Why I Used the F-Word in a Song

Below is an email thread between me and a fan who was upset after hearing the f-word in my song “Hello, Lou”off the album Passages. He graciously said I could post our email exchange as I thought it might be helpful for others who had the same concerns.

On Sep 10, 2017, at 10:30 AM, C______wrote:

Hi Aaron, as someone who first met you years ago in D _____, have all your albums, and seriously considered flying you back up here to play at our wedding, I need to let you know how disappointed I was to hear profanity in this album. Can’t listen to you with my kids anymore. 


On Sep 11, 2017, at 1:53 PM, Aaron Espe:

Hi C_____,

Thanks for your honest reply. I realized in putting “Hello, Lou” on the album there would be risk of a response like yours. As a parent of three, I appreciate and respect your decision not to listen with your kids (or even listen to me anymore out of principle, if that’s what you meant). 

But since you’ve been a supporter of mine for so long, I feel the need to explain a little. Using profanity wasn’t premeditated. It came out while I was singing the demo and got emotional. In the studio I tried to do a clean version, but I couldn’t replicate the same authenticity — not because I wasn’t swearing; just because a song like “Hello, Lou” is really difficult to sing more than once. (Honestly, I’m not sure I’ll ever perform it again.) The version you heard is the first version, the demo, in which I unfortunately dropped an uneditable f-bomb. 

The question became whether or not to include the song on the album. Even though I knew it would disappoint some people, the decision was easy for me. “Hello, Lou” is personally one of the most important songs I’ve written. It’s a tribute to a childhood friend who died before the internet era, and the song’s very essence is about it being published to help his memory live on. 

Also, I know “Lou” wouldn’t mind, as he occasionally used the word himself. 



I Hate to Namedrop, but Taylor Swift…

…said she loves my music, so how do you expect me to keep that to myself?

Because seriously, talk about a strange day.

I wake up, check a few emails and one is from the head of my label, forwarding me this playlist Taylor Swift put together on Spotify called “Songs Taylor Loves.”

I don’t really understand. But then I keep scrolling and there I am “Aaron Espe – Making All Things New.”

At first I think, no this can’t be right. But then I think, well who knows? At the very least I will tweet her a thank-you.

A little while later all of her fans start posting and liking and retweeting my thank-you tweet.

Wow, I should tweet about Taylor Swift more often, that’s the trick to tweeting. I’ve cracked the code!

I didn’t crack the code. The trick I found out was that Taylor Swift had “liked” my tweet which meant that the tweet became viral because that’s how much power Tay’ (if I can be so bold now) exudes in one tap.

Now, I bet you’re wondering how my life has changed since that day, aren’t you?

You probably think I’m currently lying sideways on a velvet covered pillow made of European goose down, typing with one hand and sipping a cocktail in the other while people stand outside in a line waiting for my autograph.

Perhaps you think I’ve now won the attention of every music executive in Nashville and they’ve made multiple competing offers on the worst song I’ve ever written (about a dog running over my shoulder and my refrigerator—I was 6, ok?).

I bet you maybe even think that my kids don’t cry or whine any more and they brush my teeth and tuck me into bed.

Well, no.

What is true is that I impressed a few people for a few days. Even got a couple “OMG!!s” from people I haven’t heard from in years.

And honestly, as a creative person, that stuff feels so good. Taylor Swift putting me on her playlist really means a lot and I truly am thankful. I feel like I’ve been validated by one of the most successful people in my field.

But do you want to know what’s interesting to me about this whole thing?

It wasn’t enough.

The feeling went away.

And I was reminded that the only thing that doesn’t go away is the work.

I don’t know what I’d do if that wasn’t my favorite part about music. Writing, creating, collaborating, figuring out how to get something so abstract that pulls on your heart onto a piece of paper, four chords and melody.

And I’m making a sort of pact right now…

…if I ever don’t love the work anymore, that’s when I’m done. That’s when I fill out a Home Depot application.

The day it isn’t about a song anymore will be a sad day for me, but I take comfort knowing almost absolutely that day will never come.

So God bless you, Taylor Swift, but it’s time for me to get back to work.


What I’m Really Like

Sure, there’s the stuff online and an “About” section on my website, but that’s mostly for trying to impress people I don’t know.

Truth is, most days you’ll find me being a dad to three boys (Silas 6, August 4, and Lorentz 1) and a husband to an amazing, beautiful woman named Heidi. We live in a red brick house in Nashville, TN on the east side of the Cumberland River. In the summers we grow a huge garden. Every Friday we buy two 5-dollar Hot-N-Ready cheese pizzas from Little Caesar’s. I manage to overeat every single time.

I was an English Major in college, but I’m still two Spanish courses short of my degree. (Read that sentence again if you missed the irony the first time.) I dropped out to try and “make it” in music. Hard to believe now that was in 2004.

Along the way I gigged across America and Northern Ireland, playing wherever I could. At one point I learned to tune pianos to help supplement my income.

The midwesterner in me doesn’t love to admit this, but I’ve had a longstanding battle with severe anxiety and depression. I grew up thinking that you weren’t even suppose to believe in mental illness let alone get professional help for it. But in 2009 mine got really bad. I’ll forever be grateful to my first therapist and psychiatrist for breaking the mental illness myth I’d believed for so long. But I also realized I had to completely rethink my music career as a touring artist.

It wasn’t until Heidi and I moved to Nashville, Tennessee that I found my stride as singer-songwriter and producer, signing with a great publisher here in town. I also signed with a record label based out of Vancouver for my artist releases.

I call my blog/newsletter the AELY Club (Aaron Espe Loves You Club takes forever to write!) because I want it to benefit you, the people who have helped me have a career. If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes three to raise an artist who stops hitting up his parents for money! My hope is that I can serve you in some way, whether that’s by creating new music, being a music industry resource, or simply bringing a little joy to your inbox every once in a while.

All for now.