Inked by Sade


I still can’t believe I got a tattoo! It’s not something I ever really thought about but in the past few years I felt like I wanted one & I knew that it would be music related & it was gonna be Sade related because if music is my religion, then Sade is my God.

“By Your Side” is the name of one of her songs. It might surprise you to know that it’s not necessarily my favorite song of hers but it DOES represent my connection to her music in a powerful way.

(Before we start, can we just acknowledge how weird a wrist looks out of context? SO weird!)

It was the fall of 2000. I had just come home after a bumpy day of running errands & just living life. I even remember what I was wearing (green cargo pants, a pink tank top, jeans jacket, green striped tote bag). Normally when I come home I immediately kick off my shoes, drop my keys & sunglasses in their proper little spot (because I am uber Type-A & organized that way), put down my purse & turn on the TV (terrible habit, I know).

But this day, for some reason, I went into the kitchen & turned on the radio. I NEVER do that. I still had my sunglasses on, purse still on my shoulder. The station was set to KBLX, The Quiet Storm. The DJ was saying, “Sade’s first release in 8 years” & then a song started to play.

I literally dropped to my knees in the middle of my kitchen & started to cry. The instrumental intro to the song started to play. I started to cry because I knew that soon, when this album was released, I would have 12-13 new songs from an artist whose art affects me so deeply; songs that would give me everything I need when I need it. I don’t really know how to explain it. There are actually singers whose voices I would rather have if I could sing, than hers. But her music moves me like no other.

I actually said out loud to the empty room, “Sade, WHY do you make us wait so long for your music? We need you by our side”

And then she started to sing the song:

“You think I’d leave your side baby
You know me better than that
You think I’d leave you down when you’re down on your knees
I wouldn’t do that”

I sobbed. As usual it was as if she knew my heart; knew exactly what I was going through. There I was, on my knees, questioning her, begging for her.

She continued to sing. The last line was “I’ll be there by your side baby”

The DJ came on the radio & said, “There it is. “By Your Side” by Sade.

Well, I just about passed out. I mean, she was LITERALLY reading my mind, my heart, my emotions. She was reading my heart & as always, knew exactly what I needed to hear, when I needed to hear it. There she was, being my favorite artist in all the ways that move me.

When the cd was released, I had preordered it & picked it up at the record store (remember those??). I had a whole ritual planned: I was going to start listening the CD on my Discman (lol) the minute I walked out of the store & walk home & just enjoy the music with the backdrop of San Francisco all round me. The walk home was not a short one (From the Embarcadero to Cow Hollow for your SF peeps). It was not a walk that one takes just on a whim. It was a long walk, but walking up & down the hills of my hometown on a brisk clear night, with Sade serenading, is pretty much my idea of heaven.

So I walked & I listened. I few times I stopped to take in the view. And because I am super Type A & like clarity & order & finite beginnings and ends, I started to wonder if the CD would play all the way till I got home or if it would stop sooner. Btu I didn’t really think too much about it. I just walked & listened. And as I put the key in my front door, at that very moment as I opened the front door, the very last note of the very last song faded away. I don’t know what you call that, but I call it a sign…yet again…that Sade knows. She just knows.

“By Your Side” has become a little mantra I say to myself when I need encouragement or a reminder that everything is going to be ok.

Cause here is the thing:

The thing is, there is ALWAYS something or someone by your side…to get you through, to give you encouragement or tough love or a pat on the back. It might be your faith, or your bestie, or your lover. It might be your favorite spot in nature or your much loved piece of prose or a warm cuddle from a fur baby. And it might even be a song…or the title of a song. And it might even be YOU, by your side. In most cases, it’s a combination of all of the above.

So when I started to think about getting a tattoo, something inspired by Sade was the only option & this was the obvious choice. On the inside of my wrist (where is can be easily covered by my watch for those times when a tattoo might not be appropriate) where I can see it, glance at it, stare at it, enjoy it. And I HAVE! I have really looked at it & focused on it & allowed it to do what I hoped it would do: give me strength & courage & faith. Sometimes I wake up in the morning & my arm is up on the pillow & the tattoo is the first thing I see & it comforts me.

It’s been almost two months now. And I have no regrets…which is a good thing…cause it’s gonna be by my side forever! xo lulu

22 thoughts on “Inked by Sade

  1. I love sade and i love all her music..and by your side is one of my favourite! thank you for bringing back the memory

  2. Yes I love how music, random words and sometimes even smells can bring old memories as if they happened yesterday. I too always loved Sade. Infact she never gets old. So I am listening to her right now, “By your side” 😉

  3. I love your article, I had few tattoos myself and every single one means something too. I also adore your sensitivity towards music. As well as your last paragraphs. Sorry for this a bit chaotic comment 😀

  4. I enjoyed reading this very much. Thank you for sharing it. One of my best friends and I have been debating over taking the plunge of getting a tattoo in honor of her “all-clear” from breast cancer. Heck–I even designed it; over three months ago! Well, after reading this, we are taking the plunge–thank you!

  5. I can relate to this post on so many levels – but just to pick out a couple:
    1. I also recently got my first tattoo and similarly, it’s something I’d never really wanted before, but I wanted something to pick me up when I’m feeling down. (I chose the Buddhist “This too shall pass” phrase to remind me that tomorrow is ALWAYS a new day).
    2. Sade is indeed a goddess. I have always known her music but only in the past few years have started listening to her when I dance. When I dance, I use a pole – something I don’t do by trade, but I do enjoy as exercise and art in the comfort of my own home. Her beautiful songs inspire a different style of dance than the stripper-esque gyrating that most people associate with pole dancing and it just becomes something beautiful and powerful, as all art forms should be.
    LOVE this post, FOLLOW is definitely in order.

  6. It was overplayed when it came out but No Ordinary Love would probably be my next tattoo. Sade know doesn’t she. Funny and enjoyable read.

  7. I have never heard of Sade but now I have to listen to it. There are always songs like that, one that connects to the inner tune and the resultant resonance is beyond mundane.

    I love your writing

  8. Wow your story really spoke to my soul about my trials and tribulations this year so far. I’m so happy to hear another person talking about how music is keeping you uplifted as well as other types of support. Well done, truly, well done!! May your heart forever be uplifted!!

  9. Sounds like you got a sign. I’ve never thought I could commit to a tattoo, thinking I would change and the tattoo wouldn’t. But truthfully, in many ways, I am the same as I have always been, and interested in many of the same things I have always been interested in. We, perhaps, do not change as much as we think we might.

  10. I do not like tattoos. Except maybe the very very very smalls like yours … A few month ago my sister called me to help her to convince her daughter about the tattoos contradictions.
    I was wondered what can I do, how to explain it to my 16-year-old niece to wait with that tattoos. She want a horse drawn-tattoos.
    First I argued with the size of tattoos, after with the fact that she is not 18. She argued with parental permission.
    Now, when I read your write, I realized that actually I had to convince myself about the whys. 🙂
    Thank you, Lulu.

  11. I love Sade. It always speaks to my soul. The song” by your side I made a black and white video of my kids when they were little. How fitting. Thank you for this blog. I quite enjoyed it.

  12. Good thing you found your own tune! I can relate to what you are saying over here.. Cause it happens to me a lot too. That one feeling, that one moment and that one song! They make you feel liberated, they make you feel light! You connect with it instantly and that feeling stays with you for long…

    I loved reading your post 🙂

  13. Very well written … I also love Sade and I really sense your connections to her music in your writing. Indeed we all have that someone or something to comfort us or someone something that knows when we needed one without asking. ❤

  14. First time to your site , first story read,…I decided to play Sade ‘by your side’ while reading….followed you along in your story,….and yes I ended up in tears,…feeling Sade and the words.

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