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The Impact of Jean Dawson – For The Kids Like Us

Freddie Fine
Zachary Bailey

The phrase “for the kids like us” is at the core of Jean Dawson’s work. There is nothing more impactful in music than being able to create something that has such a direct impact on one’s life. And while Jean has a very particular aura of not giving a fuck, his intimacy speaks to the kids like us. The kids like Jean, the kids like me, the kids like you, who don’t fit in, who get stuck in their own head, who are seeking to simultaneously appeal to others while fulfilling their deepest desires, who for whatever reason are one of the kids and that’s part of the beauty.

You could rewrite every line in “Runaway” and still not have enough space to define the kids like us. His music is a journey, one of the most meaningful paths you can go down. It may speak out to you for your own individual reason. It may not. It may relate to exactly what you’re going through. It may not. But it will always be a guiding path, one trail-blazed by Jean, to letting yourself become whoever you want to be and not give a fuck about what anyone else thinks.

“It’s cool to be you. Try stop giving a fuck. It helps a lot. But give a fuck a lot about the things you care about.” Jean Dawson’s BURNOUT documentary is one of the most touching things I have ever seen. It’s 7:33 of honest, face to face talk. While not directly to you, it’s directed to the kids like us. And you qualify for that. I watched it for the first time on Sunday, December 20th. While I was devastated I hadn’t seen it before, it spoke in ways nothing ever had. Throughout all of Jean’s music, interviews, music videos, I had essentially witnessed them all. Yet this documentary, with 69,000 views at the time of writing this, is the epitome of his message to the kids like him. 


“We build confidence in ourselves by being a little lost. And then when you find what you’re looking for, that little thing that you’re looking for, that little spark, hold onto that shit. You don’t know when it goes away. You don’t know when the light dims. I’m just a fucking kid. I’m trying to figure it out just like you. And if you’re watching, no matter where you are, just know that I care about you” (BURNOUT).

Jean is the kid, the kid that has broken through everything – from being locked out of things he enjoyed as a kid, to an important figure in his life telling him he shouldn’t make indie-rock because he’s “trying to fit in with the white kids.” He consistently faced roadblocks attempting to prevent him from achieving his aspirations, and from it emerged not only as an incredible artist, but a major influence and inspiration to so many people.

Who knows where I am or who I am today without Jean. So many experiences have been a result of his work. From finding him in Pigeons and Planes after the release of “Bull Fighter” to having streamed his latest release “MENTHOL*” almost 600 times and awaiting a new album, my journey with Jean is far from over. Your’s may be just starting. No matter what, there will always be the kids like us, and Jean Dawson can forever assist navigating your journey.

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