Noah Gundersen’s ode to Robin Williams is my 2019 in a nutshell

2019 was tough. I think we all felt that, to one extent or another. On a personal level, it was mental health struggles that did a number on me. What you put out into the world doesn’t always resemble what you hide inside; this is made tougher when people constantly comment on how outgoing and sociable you are. In actuality, that somewhat fraudulent sense of self-assuredness is more like resisting an internal vice that’s squeezing tighter and tighter on your brain, waiting for you to shut down.

Robin Williams is a perfect example of this. Very few comedians have made me laugh harder. His kind and goofy demeanor was put on display for the world to see, and everyone—myself included—assumed this translated into his private, everyday life. It’s difficult to remember, but celebrities are people too. They just have more eyes on them. For those of us that aren’t overly fond of attention, that can feel like you’re trying to scale a mountain in nothing but your socks.

There were a lot of incredible songs, lyrics and records this year, but one that got me was Noah Gundersen’s ‘Robin Williams’. Before I’d even heard a note, I knew the song would hit home. Naming a song after a beloved and talented comedian who tragically took his own life to the shock of millions? You sort of know what that song’s going to be about and what it’s going to do to you. For me, it was a stark reminder that the struggle is universal: men and women, old and young, rich and poor—it can hit any of us. For Gundersen, it was the disillusionment that can come with being an artist of any kind.

As ever, there were a lot of songs this year that I turned to when I needed a kick up the arse or a comforting hand. But ‘Robin Williams’—thanks in large part to the invocation of one of my favourite actors of all time—was the one that always seemed to be ready and waiting for me when I needed it most. We all need a brutal reminder every once in a while that life is temporary, which Gundersen—as he always does—sums up perfectly:

When I think of Robin Williams at the end of his rope,
It makes no difference what you’re making:
The reaper makes the final joke…

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