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"Ronan": A tragic new song by Taylor Swift

By Amber Case
On September 20, 2012

  • A photo of Ronan, the young boy who inspired Taylor Swift's new song.

      Founded four years ago, Stand Up 2 Cancer is an organization that has been raising awareness about the terrible disease that claims the lives of more than 1,500 Americans each day. The foundation has earned more than 180 million dollars since 2008, and has put that money towards various cancer research facilities in addition to funding approximately 350 scientists in the process. Every two years, Stand Up 2 Cancer holds a telethon broadcast on all major television networks and the basic cable networks owned by them. The event provides the public an opportunity to hear the harrowing details of how cancer has affected the lives of millions and welcomes any donations that can be made in the struggle to find a cure. Many famous individuals make appearances to either share personal stories or to present the stories of others who have grappled with cancer. This year, lyrical performances were given by Alicia Keys, Tim McGraw, Coldplay and Taylor Swift. Swift gave a particularly unique performance on the night of Friday, September 7th, when she debuted a song penned especially for a little boy named Ronan Thompson who lost his battle with cancer at the age of just three years old.

   In the hauntingly beautiful performance, the lights dimmed and the spotlight shined down on a somber Taylor Swift. The outstandingly successful country singer, most known for her bubblegum pop tunes about teen romance, showed the world a different side of herself as a performer during the Stand Up 2 Cancer show. Swift fought back tears as she sang her new tear-jerking song titled "Ronan" at the biennial cancer benefit concert. The tune was unlike anything Swift has ever released and it proved that pop music can be raw and true. The performance portrayed her as more than an idol to teens around the world, but as a compassionate adult with a purpose to inspire individuals of all ages. The heartbreaking song was inspired by a blog that Swift discovered online which told of the short life of Thompson, in the words of his mother Maya. She started the blog to chronicle the events leading up to and following her son's death from a malignant cancer of the nervous system known as neuroblastoma just before his fourth birthday in 2011. After meeting Thompson one year ago, Swift called the grieving mother just a week before the Stand Up 2 Cancer broadcast and asked if she could sing a song at the telathon that she wrote for Ronan. Overcome with emotion, Thompson agreed to allow Swift to perform the ballad which was inspired by the words in Thompson's blog.  The live performance of the tribute song was not only touching for Maya Thompson, who Swift credited as a co-writer, but to everyone watching the telethon. There was no way to resist the flow of sorrowful tears as Taylor crooned, "come on baby we're gonna fly away from here." The song entailed all of the intimate moments that Thompson shared with her little boy before his untimely death, and the memories of playing with her son that will live on forever. It sparked a desire in every American watching to donate what they could to the foundation.

   "It's nice to see a celebrity use their star power in really positive ways. You hope that influences a world of change," said Thompson on Swift. "Ronan" is currently available on iTunes and all of the proceeds from the purchases of the song will go to cancer-related charities. To watch Taylor Swift's touching performance and learn more information about the organization, visit If interested, below is a list of other heartbreaking tunes about the loss of loved ones that truly express how precious life is.

  1. "Tears in Heaven" by Eric Clapton. This tune was written for Clapton's four-year-old son who died after tragically falling from a window.
  2. "The Last Song" by Foo Fighters. This is one of several songs Dave Grohl dedicated to his late friend, former Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain.
  3. "One Tree Hill" by U2. This song was written for the band's friend Greg Carroll who was killed by a drunk driver.
  4. "Go On" by Jack Johnson. Similar to Taylor Swift's "Ronan" this song was written for Johnson's wife's cousin who died of a brain tumor at 19.
  5. "Maureen" by Sade. This track was written for Sade's childhood friend who died.
  6. "All of My Love" by Led Zeppelin. Robert Plant wrote this song for his son who died in 1977 from a virus at the age of five.

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