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Avril Lavigne’s new single was inspired by a close brush with death

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"Head Above Water" was inspired by a moment of prayer when the singer thought she was dying.

Avril Lavigne has been battling Lyme disease since her diagnosis in 2014, staying out of the spotlight and taking a break from her singing career for nearly five years. But with the release of her new single “Head Above Water,” Lavigne says she’s back, she’s still fighting, and she’s ready to share her music again.

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection transmitted to humans by tick bites, causing a wide range of symptoms such as headaches, arthritis, memory problems, heart problems, and wide range of other issues. The inspiration for her new song came at a moment when she felt like she was nearing death.

“One night, I thought I was dying, and I had accepted that I was going to die. My mom lay with me in bed and held me,” she says. “I felt like I was drowning. Under my breath, I prayed, ‘God, please help me to keep my head above water.’ In that moment, the song writing of this album began. It was a very spiritual experience. Lyrics flooded through me from that point on.”

The chorus of the song is a musical prayer that pleads, “God, keep my head above water. Don’t let me drown. It gets harder. I’ll meet you there at the altar. As I fall to my knees, don’t let me drown.”

Proceeds from merchandise from the new album supports her charity, the Avril Lavigne Foundation, which provides treatment for Lyme disease for those who can’t afford it.

Anyone who has experienced a moment of helpless dependence on God can appreciate the pleas of this song, as she sings to God, “I can’t seem to keep it all together. And I can’t swim the ocean like this forever. And I can’t breathe. God, keep my head above water.”

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