How A Near-Death Experience Informed Mia Dyson's New Album 'Tender Heart'

23 February 2024 | 10:33 am | Mia Dyson

These are the songs that resulted from a near-death experience: powerful, loving and natural. This is Mia Dyson's story behind 'Tender Heart'.

Mia Dyson

Mia Dyson (Source: Supplied)

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My husband and I were writing the songs for this record during the pandemic, and one night, an earthquake precipitated an undiagnosed heart arrhythmia, which nearly killed me. When Karl turned the light on, he found me slumped and not responding. My breathing and heart had stopped. He managed to resuscitate me and call paramedics, who took me to the hospital. The doctors diagnosed me with Long QT syndrome and implanted a defibrillator in my chest, which will shock me if my heart does that again. 

This huge experience deeply influenced the making of the record. Dare, which was written before the event, seems almost to have been a premonition of it. Thank You, written soon after, is contemplating the loss of each other that nearly happened that night. Golden Light is a love song speaking to the deepening of our bond through this experience. 

I’m singing more naturally. And I was able to cherish the time in the studio with my band like never before; I felt the gravity of the fact that it could easily not have happened. We took time with it. We shared the experience and the load. How grateful I feel to have more time on earth and with my dear friends and collaborators, Syd Sidney on drums, Daniel Wright on bass and background vocals, Lee Pardini on keys and Scott Hirsch on the production, engineering, mixing and extra guitars. 



This song was written before my near-death experience and seemed to be a spooky kind of premonition of the earthquake and a close brush with death. Songwriting is so mysterious! I have written many songs that didn’t necessarily make sense at the time of writing, but nevertheless, they felt right. In time, they revealed themselves to be elucidating something that I hadn’t understood when writing them. 

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Ragged Friend 


This song is sung both to a friend who is struggling, maybe with depression or the perception of the weight of the world, and to myself. I need the reminder, just as much as my friend might, that there is indescribable beauty and joy in this world... when I look for it. Jack Gilbert says it achingly in A Brief For The Defence - ‘We must admit there will be music despite everything.’

Dragging Me Down


I have encountered depression throughout my life, and it’s easy to add to the distress by blaming myself for not feeling good. It’s baffling to be in a battle with one’s self. Surely, I can pull myself out of it?! But it’s not in my control, and somehow, acceptance of this fact is the path through. Expression can help give me a meta-view and alleviate the paralysis.

While I often wish I could blame outside forces for my troubles (and indeed often do), I’ve found that my peace is an inside job. That knowledge is both a relief and a challenge. 

Golden Light 


However silly it sounds to try and use words to describe what a beyond-words experience is, I will try. There was one moment when I sat across from my Karl and felt golden light pour out of him and into me. I don’t understand this. We weren’t on drugs. Perhaps it’s a wonderful symptom of the intensification of our connection that happened when I almost left this world, and we got the chance to spend more time on Earth together. 


Sunny Hills 


Hatred and cynicism are easy. Love is difficult. It is the more rebellious and radical thing to do and to practice - to love people I don’t like or don’t agree with. And while this song talks a lot about romantic love, that great kind of love can teach me about love for everyone.

Thank You 


After a near-death experience, I sought out frank conversations and writings about death. I came across some words by Ira Byock, a palliative care doctor, expressing an idea found in many cultures that there are only a few things that I might need to say if I were dying or if one of my loved ones were dying:

Thank you

I love you

Forgive me 

I forgive you

Around these ‘last words’, Karl and I wrapped a prayer to die well, whether together or separately, contemplating being the first to go or being left behind to continue living.

These Words 


I think I heard Allen Watts say that priests and priestesses from various religious traditions immediately tend to argue with each other about words and definitions, while their monks and nuns can quietly garden, meditate and sit together for years. This song asks us to sense beyond verbal language so we can enjoy each other.

Come To Me 


I want to try to take people as they are right now. I think perhaps accepting you is a shorter route to accepting myself. Please keep being you, and I’ll keep being me. 

Middle Lion 


The game of ‘Who’s right and who’s to blame?’ or ‘Where can I get mine?’ are always calling. I want to play the game of finding harmony, of loving what is, of appreciating what I already have. The game of being here, right now, of this life, I have been enough. Those other games are so easy! I can find someone or something to blame in a heartbeat. Every chance I get, I want to try my hand at turning towards harmony. 

This breath is enough. This is enough. Grace. With acceptance comes grace. I lose grace if I don’t extend it to everyone. Making exceptions loses me grace.




I am astounded whenever I contemplate that for me to be here at all, every single one of my ancestors had to fight to survive long enough to have children who had children. (Not to mention the relatives, neighbours, and strangers who might not even have had children but supported the line that got me here anyway.)

And while that might not seem very difficult in this day, for hundreds and thousands (and millions) of years, survival was extremely precarious, and so the chance that you or I would be here is incredibly slim. This astonishing knowledge gives me the juice to go on creating, to honour their sacrifice and struggle.  

Mia Dyson’s new album, Tender Heart, is out now. You can listen to/purchase the album here.