Runaway June’s ‘Blue Roses': The Bittersweet Story Behind the Title Track
On Friday (June 28), Runaway June officially released their sophomore project, Blue Roses, the follow-up to their Fall 2018 freshman EP. Most listeners already know and love the new album's first single, "Buy My Own Drinks," but the trio says that the new record's title track is among the most special songs they've ever written.
"That song has been special to us since the beginning of the band," Runaway June explain. "That is literally probably the oldest song on the album, and it's always had a special place in our hearts."
"Blue Roses" is the album's 10th and final track. During live performances, the trio goes on to say, the song is always a special moment in their set. "It's just us three, and we kick our band off[stage]. It's just a moment for us three to connect and sing together," they share. "It ends in just us, an a cappella three-part harmony. And that's how the band formed, was in the writing room, singing harmony. So it's a cool way to end the record."
The song has deep significance for all three bandmates, even beyond taking them back to the group's early days: "Blue Roses" deals with grief -- something each member has had to endure.
"All of us have lost people that we love. My brother was killed in a car accident a few years ago, and I wrote that song with him in my heart," Naomi Cooke relates, adding that while the track deals with difficult emotions, it's allowed them to connect to their audience in a whole new way.
"It makes everyone feel like we're in a living room whenever we play it. It doesn't matter where [we are]," she continues. "It was just kind of unanimous that that was the name of the album, that everyone can go straight to it."
Even years after they wrote it, "Blue Roses" continues to shape the band's evolution; in fact, the song helped pair Runaway June with Dann Huff, one of the producers they worked with to create their new album.
"We were meeting with him for the first time, and we were playing him some songs, and ... we weren't even gonna play ["Blue Roses,"]" Hannah Mulholland recalls. "But we like, 'Oh, we'll just play this song,' and we pulled out a guitar. Immediately, he was like, 'I wanna be your producer and I wanna produce that song.'"
After Huff signed on to the project, Runaway June say, the focus shifted. "It really changed the direction we were going in," Cooke says.
"He's so smart and collaborative," she continues. "Watching him work with musicians, he's the one who doesn't really need to listen to anyone, but that's how he does it. He trusts every single person he picked for that session, and when they have a suggestion, he really listens to it."
Blue Roses' title track speaks to the project's overall theme of openness and honesty -- even, and perhaps especially, about the harder parts of life. "We show moments that aren't pretty, that are ugly moments. That's just real life," says Jennifer Wayne. "[In the song] "Head Over Heels," we're talking about when you're doing the walk of shame with this guy, and you just do it over and over again until you're like, 'Okay, stop.'
"It just shows a real, honest side," she continues. "We're modern women. We're living this life. We've been through it too, and it's nice to be able to share that with people and go, 'Hey, you're not alone.'"
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