Some days are like a walk on the beach with someone you love. “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child is a song for the days you think nobody will ever love you again.
And tough days come to us all…even international superstars.
It might be hard to remember now, but back at the turn of the century the all-conquering Beyoncé Knowles was in a girl group called Destiny’s Child.
There had been a falling out…the sort of thing PR people describe as “creative differences”…which led to Destiny’s Child going through a rapid change of personnel in the period immediately before “Survivor” came out.
At times, I’m sure, the remaining Destiny’s Child members, Beyoncé Knowles and Kelly Rowland, must have wondered if it was worth continuing through the name-calling, lawsuits and general aggravation of having to deal with their former band-mates.
There’s a time when push comes to shove for us all. Sometimes it’s easier to give up. But Beyoncé Knowles and Kelly Rowland didn’t.
In most walks of life, adversity is something we can do without. But adversity is often a great source of inspiration if you’re in the songwriting business.
Taking inspiration from both their travails with former band-mates and from a TV show called “Survivor” which was popular around same time, Beyoncé Knowles, Anthony Dent and Matthew Knowles (Beyoncé’s dad and the band’s manager) co-wrote “Survivor” for the new incarnation of Destiny’s Child, which added Michelle Williams to the Beyoncé Knowles/ Kelly Rowland pairing.
They wanted to tell the world that, whatever the band had been through, they were still around and still making music.
If you’ve ever been in one of those situations where another person takes delight in undermining you…the lyrics of “Survivor” will ring especially true…
Now that you’re out of my life, I’m so much better
You thought that I’d be weak without you, but I’m stronger
You thought that I’d be broke without you, but I’m richer
You thought that I’d be sad without you, I laugh harder
It’s at times of strife we have a choice. Do we grit our teeth and keep going, or do we accept we’ve failed and give up?
Neither answer is always right or always wrong. The choice is a deeply personal one, and not for others to judge…although they usually do…
The moment you make a choice is also when you find out just how committed you really were to a particular course of action. Anything you can give up without a second thought isn’t something you were all that committed to in the first place.
I’m guessing Destiny’s Child’s decision to keep going despite the revolving doors on the band’s membership wasn’t entirely well received by those members who’d left.
Although Beyoncé has said in interviews this section of the lyrics isn’t about her former band-mates, you could easily be forgiven for thinking it was…
Thought I wouldn’t grow without you, now I’m wiser
Thought that I’d be helpless without you, but I’m smarter
You thought that I’d be stressed without you, but I’m chillin’
You thought I wouldn’t sell without you, I sold nine million
Yes, these are the messages casually tossed over someone’s shoulder as they walk out the door for the last time…you’ll never survive without me…you won’t be able to cope without me…you’ll never making anything of your life without me…
Even if you tell yourself none of that is true, parting shots like those eat away at you. In your quietest times, the voices inside your head remind you of all the unpleasant things people have said to undermine you and make you feel unworthy.
And it’s almost impossible to switch them off. Maybe, in time, you don’t hear them quite so often, but that’s only because new things have been said by other people since which prey on your mind in those quiet times instead.
Perhaps recording a million-selling song is a better way to exorcise those demons. I don’t know as I’ve never done that. But it’s how Beyoncé and Kelly Roland moved on from the name calling and the lawsuits, emerging out the other side stronger, more determined, more resilient…
I’m a survivor
I’m not gon’ to give up
I’m not gon’ stop
I’m gon’ work harder
I’m a survivor
I’m gonna make it
I will survive
Keep on surviving
To keep going when the world’s against you is hard…doubly so when the people making you feel that way are people you’d previously considered your closest friends.
“Survivor” struck a chord with plenty of people around the world. It was a UK Number One single and reached Number Two in the Billboard Hot 100.
You don’t need to know the song’s back-story to appreciate the message of “Survivor” and its call to keep on going even when you feel the whole world is against you.
And I’m sure the video helped the song’s popularity immensely. In fact that’s the only aspect I’m not so keen about.
I kind of get the storyline about the members of Destiny’s Child being shipwrecked and crawling through the surf in shredded clothes to make it onto the beach, but at the same time, I wonder if there might have been another way to make the same point.
That doesn’t take away from “Survivor” being a great song, though. We’ve all been there. We’ve all had the choice to keep going or give up. We’ve all experienced people we thought were friends turning against us, doing their best to undermine us and shatter our self-confidence.
However hard it is, if you’re committed to your course of action, keep going. You might be surprised how often success is just around the corner from failure.
And if you need a role model for how well that can work, there’s nobody better than Beyoncé Knowles.
There was a time she could have given up too. Instead, she went on to win 23 Grammy Awards and sell 160 million records worldwide, both as a solo artist and with Destiny’s Child.
If you’re going to silence the doubters, and keep those little voices inside your head quiet in the wee small hours, that’s a pretty good way to do it.
And if you need to do the same, don’t listen to those voices inside your head. Listen to this defiant, determined, joyous celebration of finding the good times again after making it through the bad times instead…
Here’s Destiny’s Child with “Survivor”…
If you’ve read this far, thank you for spending a few moments in the company of one of my favourite songs. The video is below, but if you prefer listening to your music on Spotify, you can find today’s track here… https://open.spotify.com/track/2Mpj1Ul5OFPyyP4wB62Rvi