It started with a conversation between friends.
After talking through a painful situation with a close friend and refocusing on the good things that came out of it, Beth Wood came to a conclusion. She texted her friend, “‘I guess everything good comes the hard way’ and immediately knew there was a song there.”
It’s strange how we often think of artists processing their feelings alone on a guitar. But the events of this year have taught singer-songwriter Beth Wood, like so many of us, that we are so much stronger when we face hardship together—building up community, finding strength in the refuge of close friendships, and using artistic expression to renew hope and joy.
“In the past my writing has not addressed the political in a specific way,” Wood reflects. “But after this election I felt beaten down by it and hopeless and scared. Frankly, it is terrifying to have a person who brags about sexually assaulting women as the leader of our country. It is a nightmare for anyone who has been assaulted, myself included. So this hopeless situation was the spark for the song ‘The Hard Way,’ and as songs often do, they teach me and help me process things. This song helped me remember that there is still hope and that we can work hard for what matters to us.”
It makes sense that the genesis of the song “The Hard Way” stems from a desire to find hope and healing because Wood describes herself as a true “believer in the power of song.” She is a remarkable talent, and her ability to uplift in the face of adversity is undeniable.
Wood’s status as a veteran performer of 20 years shows in this Rye Room Session. Her powerful, clear voice rings out with an honest vulnerability that is both resilient and beautiful. Passion and triumph flashes across her face as she sings, “We thought this damn year was gonna kill us all. We gotta stare down the darkness just to get back to the light.” From the first guitar strum, Wood bursts with the energy of a woman on the other side of something. To say that the strength and joy she exudes during this performance is inspiring is inadequate: She is a woman ignited.
The truth that we all must grapple with at one point or another is the existence of beauty alongside the pain. For me, what is most inspiring is Wood’s insistent acknowledgement of that throughout the song. No one wants to say it, maybe, but she will.
And the message is clear: Nevertheless, persist.