In 2003, Matchbox Twenty delivered the greatest Vh1 Storytellers you’ll ever see. From a songwriting standpoint, Storytellers is an amazing opportunity to understand the process and ideas that go into the writing of any song, especially straight from ‘90s rock icon Rob Thomas. MB20’s Storytellers concludes with Thomas performing an acoustic piano rendition of their hit, “3 AM”. But not before Thomas could finally address the elephant in the room: “why does she only sleep when it’s raining?”
Rob explains that many people have interpreted the song to be about a tumultuous relationship, when he originally wrote it about his mother’s experience with cancer. He’s okay with the misinterpretation. After a song is written, or a film is released, or any other example, art no longer belongs to the artist. There’s a crippling fear that accompanies that truth. “3 AM” required Thomas to dig into an honest part of himself, and it has become one of the most misinterpreted songs in contemporary music.
Something my freshman poetry professor told me is that, “you can’t write an essay with your art.” I completely agree that great art stands alone and should be up to the audience to interpret. However, in the case of Storytellers, I’m glad to have a new lens to look at “3 AM” and have since gained an even stronger connection to the song and what it means to me. It might just encourage me to release more creative work, well-prepared for it to be “misinterpreted”.