Body by Erin Dickson
As part of Penny's ongoing Love Letter series, during which the Penny team writes letters of admiration addressed to their favorite non-cismen in music (in celebration of International Women's Month), Erin Dickson wrote a letter to the ever-iconic Florence Welch, the face and brain behind the alt-pop musical force Florence + The Machine. Read Erin's letter below.
Wow, where do I even begin? This is not the first time I’ve written you a letter. I’ve had many attempts thwarted by uptight security guards at your shows over the years, but it’s probably for the best. Hopefully, this one will be less cringey than any of those.
When I first heard your music as a wimpy little 12-year-old, it completely changed my world. I grew up surrounded by music but your first album, Lungs, was like something from another planet and I was hooked from the beginning. It got to the point where even my parents knew every word. When Ceremonials came out and I saw you live for the first time, I never looked back. It became like a drug. All-encompassing.
I’ve changed a lot over the past eleven years and you have, too. I’m not that 12-year-old anymore and you’re no longer the shy, stumbling 23-year-old I first became entranced by, but I like to think we’ve grown together. You taught me that there is an entire world out there that is outside of anything I could’ve come up with on my own. Your music has soundtracked the highs and the lows of the last eleven years, the unimaginable loss and the exhilarating joy. I have gained memories I will cherish forever, unbreakable and lifelong friendships, and a deep and unmoving love for music that all started because of you.
I’ve been lucky enough to see you live more times than I deserve. I’ve danced with strangers-turned-friends in venues across the country and even across the world. I’ve stayed up all night for album releases, made my mom drive me all over my hometown on the hunt for any magazine you’re in, and even have your lyrics tattooed on my body, a permanent reminder of who you shaped me into.
For the longest time, it felt like no matter how many times I saw you live or how many albums you put out, it would never be enough. Fandom is a complex thing and, like I said before, at times, it became all-encompassing. I visited London in 2019 and took an entire day out of my schedule to visit your hometown of Camberwell, a somewhat creepy but ultimately innocent adventure that my friends like to jokingly call my “pilgrimage.” I like to think of that as coming full circle. As I walked the streets you grew up on and drank shitty beer in the Joiners Arms (if you know you know), I felt a peace and a comfort that was almost tangible. You’re like the older sister I never had and it felt like we had both finally made it back home.
My music taste has changed a lot over the years. I don’t obsessively play your albums like I used to but I’ll always scream along when one of your songs comes on shuffle. I’ll always hold onto the merch I’ve bought and I will always smile to myself whenever someone refers to me as “the Florence girl” because, deep down, I’ll always be just that. So, all in all, I just want to say thank you. Thank you and goodnight.
All my love always,
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