Fast Car with Emily Champagne

She wanted to run away after a very traumatic event.  Listening to Fast Car Emily dreamed of leaving it all but didn't because she was mature enough to know as one of the oldest kids in her family, she needed to stay to help with her siblings.  Unfortunately, she revisited those same feelings later in life after a boating accident. 

But she fought to recover as a wife and mom and has since turned it into a beautiful music therapy journey with her violin and other's successful recovery stories!  She has overcome the odds with the power of music!

This song means something very different for she and I!  We all hear the same music but get a different experience from it.

Emily Champagne IG: @EmilyWild1

3:25 Lindsey Stirling IG: @lindseystirling 

4:43 Emily shares her experience as a sexual abuse survivor

16:11 Emily shares her experience as a boat accident survivor

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**Full Transcript

Intro I have a question. What is your favorite song, and how do you connect with it? Is it when you fell in love, or through something really difficult? I'm your host Tiffany Mason. now join me as I interview others, and we take a walk down memory lane with them. Let's get lost in why that music matters to them. Turn up your radio and let's explore memories with a beat.

Tiffany Hello podcast land! Thank you for joining me again. Today I have with me Emily Champagne, and she is going to share a song with us. Emily, would you like to share with my audience what the song is that you chose?

Emily Sure. So it is Fast Car by Tracy Chapman.

Tiffany Okay. And I looked it up that came out in 1988, which is why... I was born in 79. So, that's why I feel like I've listened to the song forever. When you told me that this was your song. I got so excited! I listened to it three times. I sang the lyrics at the top of my lungs. And seriously I'm gonna have the best day ever just from listening to the song and having it in my head. It's just a blast from the past I haven't listened to in a really long time, but I'll tell you what every time it comes on anywhere I am, "I'm like oh my god I love this song."

Emily Yeah, that's how I feel's one of my favorite road trip songs because everyone just starts wailing and you know jamming out so I definitely have the same reaction to it.

Tiffany Absolutely. Do you want to tell me you know how you connect to this song, if there's any memories, or any stories that kind of go with this?

Emily Yeah. So I was born in '89. So this song was not something I listened to because I knew of it as a kid. It's because of my mother. I think it's so funny because as we get older, it's all the music that when we were younger, we didn't like it but now that, you know I'm an adult, I find myself listening to the same artists that my mother listened to. And, you know, enjoying all that music so as a kid it was just a song that I loved. And I played the violin competitively, and I sing, so it became a song that I decided I was going to do at a competition one year. And you know my obsession with it grew at the time, there wasn't really a meaning for me it was just I love the lyrics I love the melody but with no purpose, if that makes sense.

Tiffany That does make that makes me want to look up like a YouTube video or something of someone just doing violin of that because I bet it's really good.

Emily Yeah, it's actually something I do. I have an electric violin so something I really enjoy doing is taking either even classical songs but I do it with hip hop too and I just kind of convert the music into something that can be played on the violin.

Tiffany Do you ever record it?

Emily I don't. I never...I was always as an adult I became more bashful if that even makes sense. So, I stopped playing for a long time. And then I got pregnant with my daughter who's now four, and my whole family was like you need to start playing you know for the baby and you know music is so good for them and so, so I did. And now I'm pregnant again so I actually dusted off my violin a few weeks ago and took it to get the strings changed and a few things so I could start playing again.

Tiffany Ah, that's so awesome. I always sang to my babies. But I think that that's awesome. I think music, in general, is so amazing. I would love if you recorded it and sent it to me.

Emily Yeah, I could do that.

Tiffany I would be so impressed. Yeah. And I'll tell you what, Emily, I do not normally like music without words, but I will take a violin every day of the week.

Emily That... you know I, I myself don't really enjoy that much music without words, even though I play the violin. But I found an artist named Lindsey Stirling, a while ago. And she just plays the violin. And she just jams and it's it's incredible and she plays. She started out doing covers of, you know, different like top charts songs and stuff like that and that's kind of really where my interest piqued and doing the same thing. So I'll send you her information when we're done because she's actually really awesome and her music is just, it's like I clean to it, I relaxed to it you know, it's, it's awesome!

Tiffany Yeah Yeah, super awesome! We were at a restaurant or something and it was all instrumental and I really do...I think if I know the words to the song well enough, I do enjoy just the instrumental piece of it. So, I don't remember where we were and I was telling. It's that, I don't know if you know that new song, Savage Love, I think it's by Jason Derulo. Okay. And so we were listening and I'm like, "Oh it's Savage Love and Hanna was like "No it's not." I'm like, "Yeah, listen," and then I started putting the words to the music and she was like, "Oh my gosh." So I appreciate when it's just the instrumental piece if I know the words, well enough.

Emily Yeah, I can understand that I never was really much too classical for that reason. Again, being someone who also sings I like to be able to sing and harmonize and do stuff like that. But the song, I mean, really changed for me when I was 17. I am a sexual abuse survivor.

Tiffany Oh Gosh I'm sorry!

Emily ...or assault. At the time, it was a very typical story classic story of, you know, it happens very, very often, especially with teenage girls. But it was someone I knew a friend. I wasn't where I was supposed to be, you know, accord... you know, from what I told my parents. And so I dealt with it on my own for a really long time before I actually kind of, you know, cried out for help and needed to deal with it. So, during that time, I remember so vividly like there was just one night I was laying in my room. And I was just you know having a breakdown or laying there crying. And I had my um, well it was, it was an iPod, like mp3 player back then. But in my ears, and the song came on. And I was about to skip it because I just, you know, I just I wasn't in the mood to listen to it and I didn't. And as I listened to the lyrics on like, "Oh my god," it just hit me so differently. It resonated so differently. And you know the song, I think everybody can always kind of have their own interpretation of a song or music which is another thing I love about music. You know, so in the song there's lyrics about her father being an alcoholic and her having to kind of, she had to quit school so that she could take care of her father. And the mother, you know, ended up leaving because she couldn't, you know, deal with that situation and she thought she deserved better so she kind of left the child with the Father. And so for some people, they're going to resonate with that message because they live that life. I didn't that's not my story but the song really is about change, wanting change, but kind of being stuck because of, you know, your family or for for someone that you love. And wanting to make a decision that you've really feel strongly about that's going to benefit you. But not making and kind of going back and forth because you're like well if I make it, you know I'm gonna leave you know this person behind or this person is going to be upset. And in her song, she goes back and forth about leaving and starting over but then goes back to her father needing to be taken care of.

Tiffany Right!

Emily And that message for me was really powerful because you know we go through things in life we all deal with different traumas. And we don't know how to process them right because inherently we're not programmed to deal with trauma, especially if you don't have any outside resources or someone helping you you kind of just process the best that you can. And I had so many nights where I just laid in my bed and I just wanted to pack up my stuff and go and start over. You know I wasn't on track to go away to college. I have a lot of siblings and my family did not have a lot of money. So I knew that I had to stay and go to college, and I had to put myself through college because we were a middle class family so you know I didn't really have any extra help. And I felt very stuck and I often wanted so badly to just run, but realized I couldn't because of my situation or my circumstances. And I had to face what I was dealing with.

Tiffany Yeah, it makes me think of, you know, there's the saying, "Be nice to everyone, you never know what someone is going through."

Emily Yeah.

Tiffany And just,Yeah, you just never I mean your, your fellow classmen didn't know what you were going through, you know your family didn't know what you're going through. So sometimes even those closest to us still don't know what we're going through.

Emily Most of the time they don't. You know I feel like, especially now that I'm a mother, I understand it differently as far as wanting to protect the ones closest to you. Because you feel like you're burdening them almost, you know? So sometimes we just suffer in silence and it is true, you can put a mask on. I mean I've mastered it at this point. And, you know, looking okay and on the outside it seems like things are okay but inside you're not.

Tiffany Yeah, yeah, I know all about that. I think what I got, what I really picked up from the song was they were gonna run away and make everything better. And I think it was just so sweet how he's like, You know I love just being in your car, your arms around my shoulders, it felt so nice. We're gonna go you know take on the world.

Emily Right.

Tiffany We're gonna leave the burbs, we're going to go to the city. We're going to get jobs. And I think for them. It didn't mean that they had to be super successful.

Emily Nope.

Tiffany For them, it meant they just had to get there and be living there. And that was the dream. That was enough for them because they were kind of stuck in this other life that they didn't really want to be in. So really all they were looking for was just to go to the city and live there. And I think that's kind of nice that it's not like you know we're gonna conquer everything. But it's kind of like... I am a hopeless romantic where I think you can live on love and my husband constantly reminds me."No Tiffany you need money to live." [Laughter] So, that's why I always loved it because I always thought that they were gonna you know just run away live on love and, you know, live in some crappy little apartment but make the best of it. And, you know, have fun little dates that they were used to that they knew how to get by on the cheap or whatever.

Emily Yeah and see that's, that's the beauty of music that it can hit you in such a different way. You know, two people can be sitting right next to each other with headphones and listening to the same exact song. And then we could say all right like let's talk about it. And both have two totally different takeaways from it, or maybe for you it cues that that warm fuzzy feeling of just being kind of like young and in love and wanting to like explore and change. Whereas for me, it was more of a you have to fight. You know, you have to fight. and sometimes running away isn't the answer and although it's it's dreamy, and you know what you envision for yourself and where you want to go. It's just not always the answer. And for me it kind of snapped me out of the...I want to say, I don't want to say the sadness, but the anger part of what I was feeling. And reminded me like I had to fight because I couldn't just get in the car and go away. I had responsibilities as being, you know, my brother's the oldest but he's substantially older so he wasn't in the house anymore. And I, I felt obligated to make sure that I could be there so that I could help with my sisters and I could help my mother and...So I decided, you know, what am I going to do? I'm going to stay angry, and be resentful? "Or, I'm gonna make the best of my situation and kind of just flip it into something different. And really, like that song, really just like I listened to that song, over and over and over. And I envisioned myself in somebody's car just driving and, you know, like, top down, looking at the stars not thinking about anything and just heading somewhere to just start over.

Tiffany Yeah, I think, probably just reviewing this song was the first time I really paid attention to the ending of it. So they escape and then he ends up drinking too much, and she doesn't know if she wants to stay and be a part of it.

Emily Right, so it talks about cycles.

Tiffany Yeah.

Emily For me

Tiffany No, Yeah, for me too.

Emily Again I, you know, all of us grow up very differently. And I didn't grow up in an ideal situation. And as I was coming into my own, I appreciated the things I had but I think as adults we can always identify things that we can do better. And part of that, you know, the end of the song is she realizes that she's living the cyclic life where she's literally now reliving her childhood.

Tiffany Yep.

Emily And she sees a lot of her mother in herself in the song. You know, leaving because the man is drinking. That's another huge part of life right like human beings inherently, we are creatures of habit. And, you know, we have options in life and we can kind of re-live what we what we know to be normal. Or we can say "Hey, that's not really that ideal," or "I don't really want to, you know, start a family and raise children the same. So I'm going to take the good stuff and keep it but the bad stuff I'm going to take, you know, take and put it somewhere else." And I know me personally and many other mothers I know we've all had those moments where we're repeating a behavior that we didn't like.

Tiffany Oh Yeah.

Emily So in, you know, in that moment in the song she's having that that moment that aha moment where she's like, Oh my god, I'm literally re-living the life that I wanted to run away from.

Tiffany Do you think too, I know they're not real people, of course, they're people in a song. But do you think that she also had that realization that she understands why her mom went away now? You know cuz she was probably resentful that she had to quit school, take care of her dad, and now maybe she's thinking, "Hmm, I get it."

Emily Yeah.

Tiffany "I get why you left."

Emily Right, I mean, if it were me? Yeah, I think that those moments come to us all the time because like anything like can you ever understand why the person made a decision if you weren't in this situation?

Tiffany Right. You can try to empathize but until you've done it. Yeah.

Emily You know, I became a mother and I found myself being much more empathetic and forgiving toward my mother for things that she did that I just was not happy about or things that I just was like, "How do you do that?" And now I'm a mom and I'm like "Wow, this is really hard. This is not, at all, a cakewalk. It's the hardest but most rewarding job in the world." But now I find myself sympathizing and empathizing because my god like how do we make the right decisions? If this really happens in real life and she, she woke up and she was like, "Oh, I get it, Mom like I get it I get why you left because now I'm leaving, for the same reason."

Tiffany Yep. Yep. Completely agreed. I know that when we originally spoke you had said that you do... do you do music therapy or just kind of a song that's been therapeutic for you can you go into that a little bit then?

Emily Yeah, sure! Um, So, 2018 so I didn't do music therapy before 2018. While I was still in New York, I did volunteer with a program which sadly no longer exists. It kind of diminished in I want to say my sophomore year of college. But it was a program for women or young ladies, I should say, and it was a group of other sexual assault and abuse victims. And we would actually go into high schools. and we would have assemblies but with, you know, female population. And just talk about it and you know talk about the warning signs and talk about the feelings afterwards and talk about the importance of asking for help. And, kind of, you know, share our stories with them so that they know they're not the only ones. And that this does happen, way, way, way too often, you know. And especially when it's with a person that you know yeah so I did that for a long time. Music therapy started 2018, I was involved in a near fatal boating accident, a drunk boater ran me over I was ejected off a boat that I was on. And he ran me over and he was on a pontoon boat. So I got like sucked under the boat and caught between the pontoon.

Tiffany Nooooooo...

Emily Yeah, but I'm still alive. Um, I somehow managed to like... I curled in a ball, I kicked off the bottom, because I didn't want my... like I just saw my head going toward the propeller and this obviously all happened within split seconds.

Tiffany Oh my goodness.

Emily The propeller ended up running over my right leg. So, and they left me in the water. So...

Tiffany What? You, you said you jumped off a boat. So you had other people on kind of on your side that were watching all thing too.

Emily Yes

Tiffany Please tell me your mother was not on that boat.

Emily No, no, it was actually a work event, crazy. It was a work event. I was in corporate sales at the time and we had won a boat day because of our sales for that quarter. So it was my whole team from work on the boat that I was on. Um, but yeah they were obviously they were all there. So, the harbor master actually got to me, the Fort Myers Beach harbor master, who I still talk to regularly, because he truly is a major reason that I'm still alive. And he pulled me out of the water drove me over to the Coast Guard Station right across Fort Myers Beach. And thankfully they perform successful CPR and revived me before the ambulance got there. So I was in the hospital for a month I was in the ICU for two weeks.

Tiffany Oh my goodness.

Unknown 17:53 Yeah, it was it was it was wild. It was awful and wild. And I fell right back into that trauma victim recovery mode again. This time I just had different tools to do it because I had already started trauma therapy for what I had already been through. And found myself listening to Fast Car again, all the time. When I was, when hospital bed, I found myself feeling like I wanted to run away again because of course there was like, there was an investigation, it was you know a whole thing. So every day I had, I had, you know, investigators coming to talk to me. I had lawyers coming to talk to me. And in the first weeks of something like that you don't really want to talk to anybody...

Tiffany Right, that's what I was just thinking. Like, Oh my gosh, all you want to do is recover and heal and kind of have a pity party but then these people keep coming in. It's like right after you have the baby and they keep pushing on your stomach. You're like, "Oh my gosh. Just leave me alone I'm trying to heal." It's the same thing Yes, you don't want to keep reliving it, it's a it's a nightmare. Can we please not keep talking about the details?

Emily Yep and and but the thing is is that very common traumas, is that as time progresses, we forget details. And it's our brains way of protecting us. So, although it's trauma, it's more traumatizing, it's just it's a necessary evil I guess you can say. So, um, yeah so again I found myself listening to that same song on repeat over and over again. And I came out of the hospital. I was in a wheelchair for about six months. I needed more surgeries after that, and about six months ago, my therapist who I, she took me on as a patient while I was in the hospital. And I'm still with her now. Um, she runs a mentor program at The Memorial. Um, so in our area Lee Memorial is the closest trauma hospital. The next closest are up in Tampa, which is about two hours from us or down in Miami. So she talked to me about being a trauma mentor. And this is a program they've had for a really long time but they had nobody like me nobody. You know they had mentors for people that had strokes. They had mentors for people that got spinal injuries. Nobody like me who was young, a mother, and just like more of a general trauma. So I went through two months of training, so that I would be allowed to actually go up into the ICU and start working with patients at that level.

Tiffany Cool.

Emily And that's where the music therapy started my very first patient she got into an accident, actually a boating accident with very similar injuries. However, her injuries were higher on her body and her right arm was affected. And at the time they weren't sure about her mobility and she played the guitar.

Tiffany Oh Gosh!

Emily So, we had her mom came in brought her guitar. And we worked and we worked and, you know, she would get really frustrated. And at some point we brought up me playing the violin so she just asked me if I would bring my violin one day and play for her. And she's like, "I feel like it would just be soothing." And I was like, "Okay." So the next day that I went in, I brought it. You know, I went in and it kind of just stemmed from there. And people find solace in music you know. And I and I learned that. It was actually funny because her and I were having this conversation about CDs. So, you remember burning CDs?

Tiffany Yes

Emily And like I used to write the title to like know I used to write like the whole playlist on the CD. And we were laughing hysterical cuz I was like, you know, like three years ago during a move I found a bunch of my CD books from high school. And I'm reading the see the CDs and I'm like, "Dude, you can totally tell what I was going through when I made these CDs like, Oh, this one I had just gotten broken up with and Oh this one I just fell in love and Oh this one I was never gonna date any boy ever again in my life like." It's so funny and, you know, we find commonalities in things especially when we're suffering. And going through a trauma, and being young she was young, like I was she also had a toddler. And having those uncertainties of your mobility and, you know, that was the hardest thing for me. I was like wait hold on a second like I'm not going to walk? Like, What do you mean? I have a toddler, how am I going to run around and play with my daughter? And, you know, how am I gonna be the fun mom at the playground and you know? So thankfully I, I did beat the odds!

Tiffany WooHoo!

Emily I have a little trouble walking and I need some devices to help me but I do walk. And yeah so that's how the therapy started. And I have now worked with 10 patients... over the last like eight or nine months

Tiffany That has got to be so good for your soul.

Emily It is. it actually put a lot of purpose to what happened to me.

Tiffany Sure

Emily You know we go through really bad things and everybody's like, "Well, it happened for a reason." And in those moments that's kind of like the last thing you want to hear.

Tiffany Oh, seriously.

Emily You know like, I'm laying up in a hospital bed with like, no way to walk and getting blood transfusions and, you know, whatever, just in an ICU attach all these different cables and things and people coming in every hour and poking you and taking blood. And, you know, my mom said it to me first and I remember looking at her like "Seriously, you know like, what meaning am I gonna put to this?" Or, you know, "Let's just be grateful you're alive." And in those moments you feel selfish because I wasn't. Like in those in those first couple of days I wasn't, I was not grateful I was like, just really, like. I was just angry. And then you heal, right? And it's... healing from a trauma is very similar to the grief process. So first you're sad and you're angry, then you're kind of in acceptance mode. And you have to go through all of those motions. And it's just, it's crazy. So finally, I finally, finally, finally found purpose to what happened to me. And you know I've very been very blessed and been very... Yeah, I think Blessed is probably the best word. I've just been very blessed to have helped these people. And now I have friendships with some of them some of them get better and go their own way and that's okay too.

Tiffany Yeah.

Emily But, it allowed me to say okay well I was put on this earth for a reason. And you know what happened really sucked! But here I am now and I'm making a difference in other people's lives. and it doesn't make what happened to me as painful it removed the anger and the, the sadness almost from it, if that makes sense.

Tiffany Yep. Yep. I interviewed a lady before you about music therapy. And in my mind, I feel like it's probably similar to like pet therapy, you know what, like when they bring the dogs in for the people?

Emily Oh absolutely!

Tiffany Yeah, yeah I just probably think it's close to the same thing. But I am seriously so surprised by this conversation. I know you and I had kind of had a different relationship in the past. And so it's kind of interesting just to learn more about you and you know where you come from, and what makes Emily, Emily. So I will have all of your contact information in the show notes, as well as that Lindsey Stirling if anybody else wants to check her out. And is there anything else you wanted to add Emily?

Emily No, this, this was awesome and I definitely appreciate it and I love talking about music.

Tiffany Yeah. Awesome. Well thanks so much and I thank you for being a loyal listener as well.

Emily Yeah, absolutely. I enjoy it. I look forward to it every week.

Tiffany I'm glad that I'm making some form of a difference with my love for music to then

Emily You most definitely are.

Outro Well that was a great walk down memory lane. I hope you enjoyed my guest's memories and experiences with the song or songs they chose. To connect with my guest's, I mean I know you are just going to stalk their social media, but check out the show notes as always for details. Please leave a 5 star review. And I'd love if you left a memory of your own that was sparked. Can't wait to dive into my next guest's memories with a beat. Hit subscribe now, you don't wanna miss the next episode.