Why I Used the F-Word in a Song

Below is an email thread between me and a fan who was upset after hearing the f-word in my song “Hello, Lou”off the album Passages. He graciously said I could post our email exchange as I thought it might be helpful for others who had the same concerns.

On Sep 10, 2017, at 10:30 AM, C______wrote:

Hi Aaron, as someone who first met you years ago in D _____, have all your albums, and seriously considered flying you back up here to play at our wedding, I need to let you know how disappointed I was to hear profanity in this album. Can’t listen to you with my kids anymore.


On Sep 11, 2017, at 1:53 PM, Aaron Espe:

Hi C_____,

Thanks for your honest reply. I realized in putting “Hello, Lou” on the album there would be risk of a response like yours. As a parent of three, I appreciate and respect your decision not to listen with your kids (or even listen to me anymore out of principle, if that’s what you meant).

But since you’ve been a supporter of mine for so long, I feel the need to explain a little. Using profanity wasn’t premeditated. It came out while I was singing the demo and got emotional. In the studio I tried to do a clean version, but I couldn’t replicate the same authenticity — not because I wasn’t swearing; just because a song like “Hello, Lou” is really difficult to sing more than once. (Honestly, I’m not sure I’ll ever perform it again.) The version you heard is the first version, the demo, in which I unfortunately dropped an uneditable f-bomb.

The question became whether or not to include the song on the album. Even though I knew it would disappoint some people, the decision was easy for me. “Hello, Lou” is personally one of the most important songs I’ve written. It’s a tribute to a childhood friend who died before the internet era, and the song’s very essence is about it being published to help his memory live on.

Also, I know “Lou” wouldn’t mind, as he occasionally used the word himself.