Roundtable Talk: “(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano”

“No one knows me like the piano in my mother’s home
You would show me I had something some people call a soul”

Artist: Sampha
“(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano”
Album: Process
Year: 2017

Song Meaning

A man showing his adoration for his mother and the piano that evoked his passion for music.

A Musician’s Origin

Origin stories for superhero movies are exhausting, but not for musicians. We should have more of them.

This song is nothing short of beautiful. And on the surface, it’s sounds so simple – a man playing a piano and telling a short story about his mother. But, don’t look now, here come the tears.

As much as I love music, I never had the desire to pick up an instrument and create my own. There’s a tremendous power in any art form, and it’s impossible to overstate the initial motivations. Imagine the force that made one pick up a paint brush or the force that made one strike their first ivory key. As such, songs that explain an artist’s origin are capable of immense emotion.

In this case, Sampha describes his childhood home and the piano that he started playing at a young age. When his mother was diagnosed with cancer, he became the primary caregiver, as his father had already passed away. His mother eventually passed away, too. So this song is at once an homage to his musical upbringing – a piano that bore the weight of each note – and a tribute to his loving mother.

As an artist, sometimes the best sources of creativity come from looking back at the beginning once you have perspective. I regularly interview coworkers about their hobbies and passions and they like to play coy before the interview starts. That’s why I start at the beginning: Why do you love what you love? They’re forced to look inside themselves then we’re off and running.

I hear shockingly few songs like this. Tell me why you do what you do. Sometimes it’s pain, sometimes it’s boredom, sometimes it’s innocent joy. Either way, every passion has an origin worth expressing.

Random Notes

  • Sampha deserves all the success coming his way.
  • This song is not his usual sound, so don’t be surprised when you listen to this other gem and wonder where all the beats came in.
  • This will not be the last time you hear about Process on this site. Just a hunch.

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