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Our Music Poetry Playlist!

Enjoy, and don’t forget to present a defense of your poetic song on the blog — and leave comments on your classmates’ posts.

Jimmy Sparks

The Lumineers album III tells the story of the Sparks family. the album is broken up into three EP’s I, II, and III. I focuses on the mother/grandmother, Gloria Sparks, an alcoholic whose poor choices constantly put her and her family at risk. II is about Junior sparks, Gloria’s grand son. III depicts the life of Jimmy Sparks, Gloria’s son and Junior’s father. He struggles with many kinds of addiction and has little experience with healthy relationships. As the song Jimmy Sparks goes on it tells the story of Jimmy’s troubled life and how his strained relationship with his son as a child affects him in the future.

Jimmy believed in the American way
A prison guard, he worked hard and made the minimum wage
He found his freedom lockin’ men in a cage

This song centers around addiction and hardships. Jimmy is stuck in multiple unhealthy habits and is governed by his own addictions. Professionally he works as a prison guard and uses the power he has there to gain a sense of control. These lines explain the entirety of Jimmy’s experience. He worked as hard as he could to no avail, causing him to feel lost. Instead of addressing this directly, Jimmy looks for other outlets, such as his authority over prisoners. The irony in the last line is used to show how he feels out of control in his personal life and overcompensates through his control within prisons.

The waitress babysat the boy at the bar, oh no
After an hour, Jimmy doubled his cash
He took his kid and his winnings as the dealer just laughed

These lines display the relationship between Jimmy and his son. Junior grew up watching his dad struggle with substance abuse and a gambling addiction. While Jimmy did win, the dealers reaction shows that it won’t be the end of it. The dealer is aware of Jimmy’s problem and is amused by his temporary victory before he returns and loses the money again. The description of a simple expression says a lot about the patterns Jimmy displays that aren’t blatantly mentioned.

His old man waved his hands with tears in his eyes
But Jimmy’s son just sped up and remembered daddy’s advice
No, you don’t ever give a hitcher a ride ’cause it’s us or them
‘Cause it’s me or him

Jimmy and Junior have an obviously strained relationship but that is never explicitly stated. In this one moment, one of the final stories told in the song, the full extent of their issues are visible. Jimmy was incapable of providing his son with a typical childhood and it stuck with him. The majority of these lines are a memory of a “lesson” Jimmy gave his son. This lesson influenced Juniors decision to not help his dad. Junior is unable to move past the way his father brought him up and because of that, they no longer have a relationship.

hoax: Why Taylor Swift is a Lyrical Genius

The song “hoax” is the final track on Taylor Swift’s album, folklore. This album was a time for Swift where she fully wrote about situations that she has not experienced, and truly experimented with storytelling.

In an interview, Swift stated that this song was written about several “fractured” situations about love, family, and a “business thing” (the drama surrounding Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun). The song is centered around betrayal, and love. How even when someone has betrayed you deeply, and has traumatized you, you can still feel love for them, and want to stay with them. Love isn’t just easy, just sunshine, and rainbows. Love is hard, and painful, and tragic. And with the right person, it’s worth it.

Verse 1

The first four lines of the verse read:

My only one
My smoking gun
My eclipsed sun
This has broken me down

Right out of the gate, it is evident that something is wrong within the narrator’s relationship. The narrator opens by stating that the subject of the poem is their “only” one, meaning that they are their one true love, or the only person the narrator feels they will ever be with. The narrator describes their partner as a “smoking gun.” This is an idiom, and can mean a piece of incriminating evidence. However, in a more literal sense, it can mean that the narrator has already been “shot” by their partner, and that the narrator is now reeling in the wake of being betrayed. The “eclipsed sun” also adds to how the narrator has once had a beautiful relationship, but this relationship is now shadowed, leaving the narrator “broken.” I think it’s interesting how throughout the verses, the partner is referred to with “my,” revealing that the narrator feels a deep connection to this person.

The next four lines of the first verse read:

My twisted knife
My sleepless night
My win-less fight
This has frozen my ground

Again, Swift is pulling in imagery to depict how painful the narrator’s partner’s actions have made the narrator feel. But what I think most interesting about this section is the line, “This has frozen my ground.” When ground is frozen, nothing can grow. Essentially, the relationship is unfruitful. However, this could also be an allusion to a lyric in Swift’s song, “the lakes,” which states:

A red rose grew up out of ice frozen ground

This meaning would be the opposite. Even though a relationship may be frozen, something beautiful can grow. There is hope. So even when a relationship seems to be going downhill, there may be something salvageable in the remnants of disaster.

Chorus

The chorus reads:

Stood on the cliffside
Screaming, “Give me a reason”
Your faithless love’s the only hoax
I believe in
Don’t want no other shade of blue
But you
No other sadness in the world would do

Now, the narrator is begging their partner to do something, anything, that would allow the speaker to not feel as though they should leave the relationship. The narrator wants to stay. It also gives slight suicide imagery, with the speaker literally standing on the edge of a cliff, though we don’t know if they are actually contemplating jumping. Within the chorus, it is also revealed that the speaker knows that their partner’s actions aren’t healthy. And yet, they still believe in the “hoax” of the relationship. In an interview, Swift discussed the last three lines of the chorus. She stated that this was what she believed true love was–not just finding someone to spend joyful moments with, but finding someone that you’re willing to be miserable with. This message is revealed through Swift’s use of enjambment within the fifth and sixth lines of the chorus. This enjambment places emphasis on the words “but you,” showing that this is the only person the narrator would tolerate this behavior from.

Verse 2

The second verse reads:

My best laid plan
Your sleight of hand
My barren land
I am ash from your fire

The first line of this verse may be an allusion to a line from Robert Burns’ poem entitled “To a Mouse,” which reads,

The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men
Gang aft agley

that translates to, “The best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry.” So, the speaker had a plan (possibly the romanticized version of being in love), which their partner has ruined. The “sleight of hand” line lends to how deceiving the partner is being. But the speaker isn’t fooled by their partner’s magic trick, and upon reflection, is able to see what they are plotting. And then, there is the word “barren.” This could mean that the relationship is empty (maybe empty emotionally, especially from the partner’s end), but also, like the frozen ground line, could mean that nothing good can come of their relationship. Then comes one of my favorite lines of the song: “I am ash from your fire.” Other than being just a beautiful line, it really shows how destructive their relationship is, but also how the narrator feels that they are simply the remnants of their partner’s terrible. They are no longer a physical thing, but dust. Ash.

Swift then goes into the chorus, which is the same as above.

Bridge

The bridge is often the most poetic part of Taylor Swift’s songs.

The first four lines of the bridge read:

You know I left a part of me back in New York
You knew the hero died, so what’s the movie for?
You knew it still hurts underneath my scars
From when they pulled me apart

What I think is really interesting about the bridge is Swift’s choice of tense. She begins in the present tense, then transitions into the past tense, which plays into the cycle of this relationship. The partner will continue to betray, and the narrator will continue to fight for the relationship to continue. I also love the hero line. I feel like this line is the narrator speaking to themselves, asking themselves why they’re still in the relationship if they know the ending (getting hurt). The scars line speaks to the narrator’s past relationships, and how they keep seeming to get hurt by those they once trusted. It also describes the permanence of the narrator’s trauma. Like a scar, they will never be fully healed.

The next seven lines of the verse read:

You knew the password, so I let you in the door
You knew you won, so what’s the point of keeping score?
You knew it still hurts underneath my scars
From when they pulled me apart
But what you did was just as dark
Darling, this was just as hard
As when they pulled me apart

I absolutely love the password line, and the metaphor it brings. It’s saying how this person knew exactly what to say to the narrator to gain their trust, only to betray it. The partner knew exactly what buttons to push to rile up the speaker. Then, we get an expansion of the scars line. It is added that what the partner did to the narrator was just as terrible as being dissected by others. And yet, the narrator still calls their partner “Darling.” They are still using this term of endearment even though they have been so deeply hurt.

Outro

The outro reads:

My only one
My kingdom come undone
My broken drum
You have beaten my heart

Don’t want no other shade of blue
But you
No other sadness in the world would do

Again, the partner is the narrator’s “only one.” Who they believe to be their soulmate, the only person they would stay with while being treated horribly. The kingdom line is a biblical reference, and reveals how the narrator once had the perfect relationship (a kingdom) that is now unraveled because of one side’s actions. The next two lines show how a rhythm of life has been disturbed, and essentially how heartbroken the narrator is. And yet, despite this heartbreak, Swift ends her song with the repetition of the line that she said described true love.

Despite much of the song’s negative tone, I’m not sure if the meaning of the poem is entirely negative. Yes, it describes a seemingly terrible situation, but I think it’s also saying that if you truly love someone, you will be willing to stick by them through these situations. Love is willing to be sad, and happy, and everything in between. But I also think that there’s a difference between a loving relationship that has flaws, and valleys, and a truly toxic relationship.

River Don’t Go

Charlie Puth’s song “River” from his Nine Track Mind Album, is undeniably poetry. Just the way the song expresses feelings of love and trust makes it an incredible masterpiece. The slow texture of listening to the words and their meaning is very profound. It is one of his overall underrated yet good songs. Along with Charlie’s other songs about love, relationship, and heartbreak, this particular song has a deep metaphor for the word river. This song has a speaker in it which is Charlie and the audience which is his ex-lover and the occasion is really not important. But the what and meaning of the song is about Charlie’s ex-girlfriend blocking him out entirely and acting nonchalant about her pain, and in return makes Charlie feel more hurt as he wants to see her express her emotions more instead of forming into a river and flowing away from him. We get a sense of this in the first stanza, which says…

Look, you can play it cool
Act like you don’t care
River don’t be cruel
You’re pushing me away
Don’t want to get hurt
So you hurt me first
With the words you say

We can notice the AABB rhythmic stanza in the first verse between cool and cruel, and away and say. Also, the way the word river is used. We may ask ourselves well, how can a river be cruel. Because the only definition for a river is, a large natural stream of water flowing in different directions. I can see now, why Charlie chooses the river to be the main idea in his song. Relationships can go in different directions, like rivers. And sometimes with the pressure of the water can also push people away. But the song also doesn’t lose its sense of structure. In the next verse, it explains how Charlie is now giving up on this relationship seeing as going nowhere and now he feels that she should just fall.

Maybe you should fall
That’s what rivers do
’cause when you’re in love
You don’t mind a different view
Things are looking up

So in the song, Charlie is still wanting his ex-girlfriend’s love but again she’s not returning the feelings back to him. But he still pushed forward and wanted to accept the facts and still be with her but continuing to tell her not to run away from him. While listening to the song’s lyrics, Charlie is explaining to his ex-girlfriend how she shouldn’t give up because when the water gets rough where is she going to go his heart is her home and nothing is as cold as running on your own so River you shouldn’t rush. And we can infer that maybe river is a part of a nickname that Charlie has for his ex-girlfriend.

In conclusion ending of the song ends with Charlie continuing to say that she shouldn’t run from him and not from their love. The How of the story and the way the language has meaning is that you should never give up on the things that you love even if it feels like there’s no hope you always have to keep trying because one day you will feel that love and your River Won’t Give Up and won’t run.

Touch

Daft Punk’s Grammy winning album Random Access Memories is the duo’s seventh and final album and features the song Touch featuring Paul Williams. The song was used in a video announcing the duo’s split in 2021, and has since become associated with the end of Daft Punk. This is fitting as the song’s lyrics and themes have to do with memories and the loss of better times. Similar to their previous songs such as Human After All, Touch is a song about a robot capable of feeling human emotions. This robot, who’s experience is displayed via the lyrics sung by Paul Williams, illustrate a deep sense of longing the robot feels for these emotions. The lyrics begin with the robot saying:

Touch, I remember touch.

Pictures came with touch.

A painter in my mind,

Tell me what you see.

This opening establishes the robot’s memories of the feelings of touch that he’s felt. Lines like “a painter in my mind” establishes their disconnect from the feeling. Instead of being their own experiences, they are pictures created by another person in their mind. The song continues with the lines:

A tourist in a dream,

A visitor it seems.

A half forgotten song,

Where do I belong?

The robot has been disconnected from his own feelings so long that he feels like “a tourist” or a “visitor” as he remembers his own feelings. Because of how disconnected they are, they are disoriented, confused, and have no true understanding of who they are, asking themself, “Where do I belong?”. They further question their own identity as they say:

Tell me what you see,

I need something more.

Kiss, suddenly alive.

Happiness arrive.

Hunger like a storm,

How do I begin?

As the robot begins to question their own experiences and further explore their memories of touch, the music becomes more upbeat as the robot feels “suddenly alive” as they re-experience their past feelings. They feel an intense “hunger” for more feelings, asking themself, “How do I begin?”. As they further explore their memories, the robot says,

Touch where do you lead?

I need something more.

Tell me what you see,

I need something more.

The robot wants to find out where these feelings will lead them, and as they further explore their own memories, they repeat “I need something more”. With this, the music kicks into an upbeat composition as the robot experiences the joy of feeling these newfound emotions and memories. Then, as quickly as it sped up, the music slows down. The music builds into a bridge that slowly gets happier and happier as the following phrase is repeated by first Daft Punk’s robotic vocals and then a choir:

Hold on, if love is the answer you’re home.

Hold on, if love is the answer you’re home.

The robot, having found a greater understanding of themselves, finally feels like they are home. They now understand what it is they’ve been searching for, and the uplifting music displays this. Eventually, as the chorus reaches its highest point, the vocals and music are abruptly cut off, leaving a few seconds of silence. This silence is interrupted by the robot’s returning vocals, stating:

Touch. Sweet touch,

You’ve given me too much to feel.

Sweet touch,

You’ve almost convinced me I’m real.

For whatever reason, the robot has now been cut off from their feelings of touch. They have been left once again without their feelings of touch, but now with the memories of what once was, and the sadness as they wish to return to those times. This brief understanding of their feelings has left a hole in the robot, who says “You’ve given me too much to feel”. The robot is so apathetic now that they no longer believe themselves to be worthy of human feelings anymore, saying, “You’ve almost convinced me I’m real”. Now knowing what feelings and emotions feel like but left without any way to experience them any more, the robot only says:

I need something more,

I need something more.

Ending with a low piano note on the final “more”, the song leaves with a feeling of longing and sadness, replicating the longing the robot feels for the emotions and feelings humans go through, and their despair as they realize they are unable to. This song has recently become associated with Daft Punk’s split, which is fitting considering it’s themes. As time advances, we will be left with only memories of past experiences and feelings, and we will only be able to wish for more time, for something more.

Spiritual Connection- Leonard Cohen’s “Suzanne”

Leonard Cohen, Canadian poet and songwriter, wrote his 1960s ode “Suzanne” (listen while you read if you want :)) about his friendship with a woman of the same name, Suzanne Verdal. The slow, hypnotic mood of the song draws listeners in, the world Cohen creates is enhanced by his artful lyrics. While many different interpretations of the song can be derived from the poetic lyrics, I believe that “Suzanne” examines Cohen’s spiritual connection to Suzanne that teaches him to have love for everybody around him. Throughout the song, Cohen uses rich description, point of view, and allusion to construct a picture of this relationship, and make the listener feel as if they are experiencing it as well.

Suzanne takes you down to her place near the river
You can hear the boats go by, you can spend the night beside her
And you know that she’s half-crazy but that’s why you want to be there
And she feeds you tea and oranges that come all the way from China

Here, our narrator is describing not only the setting he and Suzanne are in together, but small details about Suzanne herself. Cohen appeals to numerous senses in this section, placing us “near the river” where we can “hear the boats go by”, we can taste the “tea and oranges”, putting listeners in the same place as the narrator. Further, the fact that Suzanne “feeds you” these specific items “that come all the way from China”, as well as the implication that she’s “half crazy” are all little idiosyncracies that imprint a unique picture in audiences’ minds. We, as listeners, are immersed in the narrator’s experience through these details. Taking the experitential aspect a bit farther, Cohen uses 2nd person perspective in this song. Most songs may adopt 2nd person perspective when their story is directed towards a lover or an ex, but the subject in this case is the listener. Cohen is telling us that we think and feel the things that the lyrics are depicting. (Another layer of this song is how he says “you”, yet we also assume that the experience he is describing is his own, merging narrator and listener into one. This oneness contributes to the sense of community among humanity that Cohen comes to describe/imply later in the song, but I won’t go too in depth about this idea).

And Jesus was a sailor when he walked upon the water
And he spent a long time watching from his lonely wooden tower
And when he knew for certain only drowning men could see him
He said all men will be sailors then until the sea shall free them
But he himself was broken, long before the sky would open

Cohen leaves the narrative of Suzanne to explore a biblical comparison. He refers to Jesus as “a sailor when he walked upon the water”, then depicts him on “his lonely wooden tower” (the cross on which he was crucified). As Jesus watched from the cross, He announced, to “drowning men”, that “all men will be sailors then”. The contrast between Jesus’s divine act of walking on water and the condition of those who are drowning seems to imply the superiority of Jesus over others; yet, Jesus still dubs ordinary men as “sailors”, a term also used to describe himself. This allusion shows how this divine, revered figure still considers his fellow humans as equal to himself. Additionally, when Cohen refers to Jesus as “broken”, it recalls Suzanne’s flawed personality (“half-crazy”). The reference to Jesus plays in directly to the second to last stanza, where “Suzanne takes your hand and she leads you to the river”:

And the sun pours down like honey on our lady of the harbor
And she shows you where to look among the garbage and the flowers
There are heroes in the seaweed, there are children in the morning

The sun pouring down “like honey on our lady of the harbor” gives audiences a sense of divinity that was brought up before by the allusion to Jesus, implying Cohen’s own spiritual connection and reverence for Suzanne. As Suzanne shows us “where to look” for the faces of others humans, “heroes” and “children”, within the river. The faces are among the most discarded aspects, “garbage” and “seaweed”, but Suzanne still sees the faces and shows us how to see them, too. Suzanne’s moral nature, superior to others’ in Cohen’s mind, yet egalitarian, is compared to Jesus’s by the similarity of their described circumstances. THis reinforces Cohen’s spiritual connection in their relationship. In both cases, Cohen, as well as audiences, are taught to see the humanity in everyone by these divine figures.

Moving on

“Come Back to Earth” is a solid opening for “Swimming” a 13-track album by Mac Miller. While I thoroughly enjoy the album, none of the remaining 12 tracks compare to the rawness and vulnerability conveyed throughout this song. The song starts out strong and provides a refreshing contrast to songs found on prior albums “GO:OD AM” and the “Divine Feminine” which articulates the lust and lavishness of life. The speaker in this piece is the writer himself, however, I do believe that it’s subjective to how you interpret the piece and how/if you relate to it.

The melancholy tone of the song remains stagnant, and when analyzing and listening to the lyrics it served as an aid in understanding the meaning of the piece as a whole. I went back and forth with myself unable to come to a conclusion until finally, I settled upon the speaker not only conveying their want to find peace of mind, but also the struggle that came with it as it caused them to have to accept and move on from the past.

The song opens and closes with statements that I assume many can relate to:

My regrets look just like texts I shouldn’t send
And I got neighbors, they’re more like strangers
We could be friends
I just need a way out
Of my head
I’ll do anything for a way out
Of my head

The syntax of the lyrics while fairly simple conveys an idea that I feel is extremely relatable. That idea being that: Regrets are all consuming they take your choices and make you question the validity of what you’ve done and open the gates for self doubt to set it. Miller comparing regrets to unsent texts articulates how when you have/haven’t done something you know you should/shouldn’t have done (much like texts you want to send but are afraid to) the unknown and the what if’s consume you and leave you unsettled making it harder to move on from the past. Furthermore, Miller’s depiction of neighbors signifies how you can be surrounded by people and still feel alone and out of place. Both constantly causing turmoil as they can lead one to overthink and produce unwanted thoughts they can’t stop.

Miller goes on to speak about the feeling of temporary relief:

And I was drownin’, but now I’m swimmin’
Through stressful waters to relief

The two lines are what I woulds say are the most powerful words sung in this piece. I think they metaphorically represent calm before the storm, the temporary moments of feeling free; like you can finally move on before spiraling and giving into temptation/unwanted thoughts. I overall felt these lines resonated with me the most.

Prior to reiterating the first verse while the tone remains melancholy Miller continues to express his anxiety and internal struggles:

Grey skies are driftin’, not livin’ forever
They told me it only gets better

I think by personifying the sky Miller’s vulnerable state is being articulated as it shows a raw view of how he’s struggling to organize and understand his thoughts. All of which I feel ultimately ties back to wanting to accept the past and use it to move on and grow and the simultaneous struggle there is to find peace with the past.

Even Sunlight Burns Sometimes

To get the full effect of the following analysis, I urge you to quickly go to your favorite music streaming platform. Search “Sunlight” by Hozier, and click play. Thank you. Now continue reading. 

“Sunlight” by Hozier is a part of his album Wasteland, Baby! The album is centered around complex paradoxes that convey the experience of both pleasure and sufferings simultaneously. Even in the title itself, “wasteland” and “baby!” are deeply contrasting words that are representative of the overall theme of the album. The various songs blend experiences of devastation and joy but the song “Sunlight” conveys the complexities of love specifically and how although it can both tournament and heal us, it is ultimately worth taking the risk to experience the joys it can entail. The speaker seems to be a person who is describing the conflicting feelings they have about loving another. Throughout the song Hozier consistently uses the pronoun “your”, suggesting that this song was intended for someone specific that he loves. Hozier mainly communicates the meaning of the song through metaphors, personification, and allusions that help to convey the experience he describes. 

In the very opening line, 

I would shun the light, share in evening’s cool and quiet

Hozier establishes the overarching metaphor in the song as light being a symbol of love. To “shun” the light is to turn away love. The evening, which Hozier describes as “cool and quiet”, is the world without sunlight, or love. The diction Hozier uses to describe the appeal of a “cool and quiet” evening represents the safety and comfort that one can depend on at night, or a life without love (and the pain that naturally comes with it).  He continues in the following lines to sing, 

But whose heart would not take flight 

Betray the moon as acolyte

Here, Hozier uses both personification and allusion to add to the idea that although the dark may be safer, humans naturally long for love, the same as sunlight, and will go to it whenever given the chance. The personified image of a heart taking flight is dramatic but serves to emphasize the strong force that is the urge to experience love. Additionally, the reference to the moon and acolyte in the same sentence alludes to the Greek myth of Artemis who was the goddess of chastity and the moon. Hozier refers to himself as an acolyte, acolytes were the hunters of Artemis and were forced to remain chaste and would be punished with death if otherwise. Here he claims he would go as far as to betray a Greek Goddess for love, emphasizing the addictive nature of love, despite its extreme costs. 

Hozier continues to use figurative language and rhetorical devices to build on this idea and sings, 

Oh, all these colors fade for you only

The Icarus to your certainty 

Again, Hozier utilizes both metaphor and allusion to better describe his experience with love. The idea of colors fading again represents sunlight and love. Colors naturally fade in the light, which is a seemingly depressing notion yet Hozier says his colors fade nonetheless for the person he loves, symbolizing a sort of sacrifice he is making to love and be loved. He continues to allude to the Greek myth of Icarus who used his wings to fly too close to the sun until they melted off.  Again, Hozier is encapsulating the paradox of love by drawing parallels to the Greek story that embodies the risks and consequences that becoming consumed with something pleasurable (such as love) can lead to.   

One line that I particularly like is, 

Death trap clad happily 

Hozier utilizes unique diction to further convey the paradox of love. Describing love as a death trap is an extreme comparison which he counters by adding the word “happily” suggesting that despite its dangers, it is not entirely bad. 

Finally, the ending line,

Sunlight, sunlight, sunlight, sunlight, sunlight 

There is clear repetition as the song fades out which suggests that the sun is setting and Hozier again is shunning love for the night. As a listener, we also forget about the love he describes as the song is ending (and naturally so, it leaves our minds) but this also supports the metaphor of how love is like sunlight, it sets and disappears as quickly as it came. Ultimately, the heart of the song is in both the lyrics and also the music. The music only becomes more sensational when you put in the context of the song’s meaning. I hope you listened.

Beds Are Burning

The song “Beds Are Burning” by Midnight Oil, an Australian rock band from the 80s, wrote this song to protest the taking of native lands from the tribe Pintupi. They wrote this song in an attempt to highlight the effects it had on the native tribe. The song starts out with a description of the land, using imagery to allow the listener to grasp that they are in the desert.

Holden wrecks and boiling diesels
Steam at forty-five degrees

The lines above are from the very end of the first stanza, they are almost like an introduction. They allow the reader to infer that it is extremely hot, it would be around 113 degrees Fahrenheit, and it paints a picture in the listener’s head using imagery. This song is written from the Australian’s POV, the second stanza and part of the chorus talks about how they need the take accountability and give the land back.

The time has come, a fact’s a fact
It belongs to them, let’s give it back

Those lines are in the second half of the stanza. The use of rhyme with “fact” and “back” empowers the song and helps it flow better onto the next part of the chorus. By using these lines as the chorus, it helps reinforce their message about giving the land back. The second part of the chorus, the third stanza, puts the song in the POV of the natives.

How can we dance when our earth is turning?
How do we sleep while our beds are burning?

These lines are repeated twice in the stanza. That, along with the use of “ing” at the end of each line signifies that this conflict is still going on. The song title is also used in the chorus to reveal the effect the stolen land had on the Natives. Their beds weren’t literally burning but when eventually forces back to their native county, the Kintore ranges, which are extremely hot. This has the double meaning that it is so hot they can’t sleep but also the meaning that they are angry with the Australians and want their land back. Finally, the use of “dance” in the first line also has a double meaning. At first, it means that they literally can’t dance because of their uprooted lives but it also means they can’t be happy since they were forced to leave their homes. In the second to last stanza, Midnight oil changes one line in the chorus.

It belongs to them, we’re gonna give it back

They change the original line “let’s give it back” to this and it also changes the tone of the song. By the end of it, they seem determined to hold Australia accountable for the things they did to the Pintupi tribe. The use of the pronoun “we” blames the whole country not just the people in power which is a part of their message. Overall I really like this song because the use of rhyme and repetition really adds to the meaning of it.

2002 by Anne-Marie

The first time I heard “2002” by Anne-Marie from the album Speak Your Mind was on tik tok. I remember it being the background to a montage of someones happier moments. Although it was only a 60 second clip, there was just something about the song that felt so familiar. After listening to the full song I realized what it was. She had taken popular songs from her (and my childhood) and combined the lyrics in a really cool stanza.

Songs with all our childhood friends
And it went like this, say

Oops, I got 99 problems singing bye, bye, bye
Hold up, if you wanna go and take a ride with me
Better hit me, baby, one more time, uh

I really liked that last stanza because it incorporates 3 iconic songs from my childhood so smoothly. I had to listen to the song a few times before I even realized they way she had woven those lyrics in. In addition she uses a simile that is quite easy to imagine and understand.

The day you kissed my lips
Light as a feather

The overall theme of the song is nostalgia to her happier days. I think her lyrics embody it perfectly for anyone who grew up in late nineties and mid 2000’s. The poem uses rhyme and imagery as well to make the song catchy. The use of these devices within the song puts you in the memories of Anne-Marie’s childhood and where she is sourcing this story from.

Dancing on the hood in the middle of the woods
On an old Mustang, where we sang

I think this song is a great example of poetry because it uses many different poetic devices so fluidly and its also just a great upbeat song. In addition the purpose of this song is to remind you of childhood and somewhat transport you back, even for 3:08 seconds to times before real life hit. She sings in past tense because this song is a reflection for her. A reflection of all the time that has elapsed between being 11 years old (which she mentions in the song) and her adult self now.

Music Poetry: A Defence of Song 33

I saw a demon on my shoulder, it's lookin' like patriarchy
Like scrubbin' blood off the ceiling and bleachin' another carpet
How my house get haunted?

Within the first lines that Noname sings in her 1-minute and 9-second single titled Song 33, released in June of 2020, it is clear that the upcoming song will be nothing short of a masterpiece. Song 33 was written and released during the peak of the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests centered around the police murder of George Floyd. The main topic covered within this song, however, is the disproportionately common and infrequently-covered murders and disappearances of women of color, more specifically black women who, while being 13 percent of the female population, accounted for 35 percent of all missing women in 2020.

Within these first 3 lines, Noname has already constructed a full image of the message she is trying to send within her art. She begins by describing the patriarchy, the system that upholds the racial and gender inequalities that cause and maintain both this lack of coverage and increased disappearance rate, as a demon on her shoulder, an evil force constantly influencing her and other people’s actions, while being impossible to get away from. Next, she references cleaning up a murder scene and acting like said murder never happened, much like how society tries to cover up and ignore these missing black women, assisting in the crime through inaction.

Why Toyin body don't embody all the life she wanted? A baby, just 19 
… 

One girl missin', another one go missin' One girl missin', another

Noname continues this theme throughout the rest of the first verse by mentioning the murder of Oluwatoyin Salau, a Black Lives Matter activist from Tallahassee, Florida, who, at the age of 19, was found dead one week after being reported missing. Just hours earlier she had Tweeted about a sexual assault she had endured. Her story got relatively little coverage and Noname is pointing out an abundance of stories like Oluwatoyin’s. Then, in the closest thing to a chorus within the song, Noname repeats, “one girl missin’, another one go missin’”. This use of anaphora, both in the line itself and in its repetition between every verse, works to both make the line stick out and stay with the reader and also creates a parallel with the way how society treats these women, not as people with lives, but as inconsequential losses.

But n****s in the back, quiet as a church mouse
…
It's time to go to work, wow, look at him go
He really 'bout to write about me when the world is in smokes?
When it's people in trees?
When George was beggin' for his mother, saying he couldn't breathe
You thought to write about me?

After the anaphoric chorus, Noname proceeds to call out the silence she has noticed from other artists, comparing them to a church mouse, a clever simile using two words strongly associated with quiet while simultaneously sending the message that if just one starts making noise about this issue, or squeaking, it will, because it is surrounded by silence, be heard by many. She then digs deeper, further examining the tendency rappers around her have of writing about each other rather than about issues within society. It could also be argued that Noname is speaking about the media, of reporters writing about celebrities and media personalities while glossing over the actual problems that people around the world are affected by.

After another chorus of repetition of “one girl missin’, another one go missin’”, Noname continues,

Yo, but little did I know, all my readin' would be a bother
It's trans women bein' murdered, and this is all he can offer?

And this the new world order
We democratizin' Amazon, we burn down borders

Here, in the last verse, Noname partially expands her focus, bringing up the murders of trans women, in this context, she is clearly focusing on black trans women, who are even more disproportionately likely to go missing or be murdered. She then transitions off of focusing on the present and shares her idea of a better future. Clearly, she believes that the only way to stop this issue- to get the demon off her shoulder- is to rebuild the system in which we live. She speaks about how we are “democratizing Amazon”, both a reference to growing support and numbers of unions within large corporations like Amazon and the idea of giving more power to the workers of a company. Proceeding this, she mentions burning down borders. This could be taken in multiple ways, either abolishing the physical borders between countries for a freer world or abolishing the metaphorical borders that separate people into groups- gender, race, class, sexuality, etc.

Song 33 is not only a great song but a deep, complicated piece of poetry. In the chapter “What is Poetry?” within the book Perrine’s Sound + Sense: An Introduction to Poetry, by Laurence Perrine, he defines poetry as “a kind of language that says more and says it more intensely than does ordinary language.” Simply, poetry is an art that translates a complicated thought and/or feeling into a shorter but no less complicated or emotionally intelligent volume of language. If Song 33 does not match this definition I do not know what does. Within only 1 minute and 9 seconds and a total of 3 distinct verses of 7-8 lines, Noname is able to distill not only powerful messages surrounding current societal issues but her own picture of a better, more equal world into a truly moving song.

A Dance with the Devil

“Its Called: Freefall,” a song by Rainbow Kitten Surprise, is apart of an album entitled: How to: Friend, Love, Freefall. While I thoroughly enjoy the rest of the album, along with numerous other songs by RKS, nothing quite compares to “Its Called: Freefall.” The speaker is at his rock bottom, facing mental health issues, presumably depression and from his encounters with the devil, possibly suicidal thoughts. The entire song is revolutionary and each line adds a greater depth to the meaning.

While I have gone back and forth about the meaning of this song, I settled on the speaker searching anywhere for comfort or acceptance in a sea of internal struggles. For starters, the song opens up with a greeting from the devil,

Called to the Devil and the Devil did come
I said to the Devil, “Devil, do you like drums?
Do you like cigarettes, dominoes, rum?”
He said, “Only sundown, Sundays, Christmas”

To me, any interaction with the devil insinuates a type of desperation. When people are known to make a “deal with the devil,” it is almost always because they feel they have no other choice. I find this to be true within “Its Called: Freefall.” Furthermore, within verse two, the speaker reveals the apparent root of the struggles. His friends are subpar, despite being a great friend to them. However, with his complaining comes the devil yelling at him. Within this fight, the devil uses a compelling metaphor,

Don’t get me ventin’ on friends who resent you
‘Cause all you’ve ever done is been a noose to hang on to

While this is not the reason for my possible suspicion of suicidal thoughts, these lyrics do help reinforce it. It is because the devil compares him to a noose that the severity of his situation is revealed. He is at his lowest and as the devil acknowledges his claims of bad friends, his reason for his feelings becomes apparent.

The pre-chorus and the chorus then solidify this idea of acceptance.

You could let it all go
You could let it all go
It’s called “freefall”
It’s called “freefall”

Originally, I was torn between the meaning of the chorus. However, the meaning I pondered was the choice of suicide. The devil is known to rule things of that nature and it would make sense for his to urge such an action. For this man to kill himself, the devil would gain another man in hell, ultimately supporting his goal. The devil tells the speaker he could get rid of his despair and “let it all go,” inevitably finding peace through suicide. Furthermore, by repeating these phrases numerous times, like a demonic chant, it adds to the convincing aura of the song. The entire song is a conversation between the devil and the speaker. Another line I think solidifies my interpretation follows,

Called to the Devil and the Devil said, “Quit
Can’t be bothered, better handle y’all shit

Keep about your wits, man, keep about your wits
Know yourself and who you came in with

This is the first place the devil dismisses the speaker. Originally, the devil kept pushing the chorus, trying to get the speaker to join him in hell. By repeating with “you could let it all go,” makes it the speaker’s only option. It is because the devil repeats this phrase almost every other verse that the desperation becomes apparent. For the speaker to go back to the devil, time after time, even though he gets the same answer consistently, shows just how lost he is. Finally follows one of the last verses in the song,

Called to the Devil and the Devil said, “Hey
Why you been callin’ this late?
It’s like 2 AM and the bars all close at 10 in Hell
That’s a rule I made

This verse, by far, is my favorite line in music history. Despite the fact that I can clearly imagine this conversation and the characters within it, it powerfully adds to the desperation of the speaker and the tone of the song. I think for a lot of people, desperation and dark feelings occur at night. And for the speaker to call on the devil at 2AM, almost like a friend, it shows how difficult of a headspace the speaker must be in. However, by the devil saying “that’s a rule I made,” I think the speaker is brought back to reality. I think he almost views the devil as a friend, presumably because his current friends taught him nothing but heartache, so the speaker is looking in all the wrong places. However, when the devil concretely displays his power, like his ability to create things, the speaker resurfaces and the song ends.

Overall, I think despite the devil’s numerous chants, the speaker does not want to kill himself. If he wanted to, he would have chosen that option the first time the devil offered it. However, I do not think the speaker has a better of a person to turn to, hence his multiple conversations with the devil. Yet, he did not give into the temptations of the devil and realizes his wrong turn at the end of the song.

In my opinion, this song is the definition of a poem. By each line having multiple interpretations and meanings, it follows the same structure of poems we have read in class. This song is my favorite and I think the depth it alludes to really cements its standing as my #1.

Baby Keem: 16

In 2021, rap artist Baby Keem released his world renowned album The Melodic Blue. The song 16 was featured on the album and quickly became a hot track within the hip-hop community. 16 generated tons of buzz because of its unique way of portraying Keem’s ideals about life and his perspective on mentorship. He offers parental-like advice in a creative and nonjudgmental way – something most of his supports presumably demand.

16 offers an opportunity for one to forgive and forget, while leaving the past behind. The song depicts an individual who has broken the trust of his friends and family, but comes to realize that he can regain their trust by apologizing for his wrongdoing. As the song transitions, we gain a new perspective of the speaker, one that is harnesses the ability to realize that the mistrust experienced by both parties is not very serious from the gecko. This song demonstrates a clear theme that: a person must apologize to regain the trust of their loved one, but in hindsight, our struggles and difficulties are never really that crucial, and life continues to move on. The multidimensional lyrics reiterate this notion.

Drown yourself in expensive fabrics

This quote serves as the first time that Keem offers context into his coping mechanisms for his struggles. He sheds light on the broken friendship with his mother and girlfriend. These coping mechanisms provide the audience with reasoning for as to why Keem first struggle to apologize for his wrongdoings. Instead of apologizing, Keem indulges in luxury goods and material objects. This insight further enhances the meaning of the song and reemphasizes the importance of apologizing. This line correlates to the struggles of initiating an apology to someone you may have hurt, and how at times, our minds can be consumed with distractors.

What’s love? I guess I’ll never understand

In the quoted line, the listener, for the first time, hears Keems acknowledgement of his wrongdoings. This point in the song marks the transition from the denial period to acceptance, in this cast, wrongdoing and moving towards apology. Keem is able to take a look in the mirror and realize that his struggles with his girlfriend are beyond himself. In order to gain her trust, he must acknowledge what he has done wrong. Additionally, this quote builds on the theme of coming to realize that things are truly never that serious and life continues to flow.

Every time I say sorry, I do that shit again

Keem chooses to end the song with this necessary and powerful line. This quote incapsulates the multiple messages of the song, from the importance of apologizing to the significance of messing up again. Furthermore, this end line magnifies the meaning of the song by reinforcing the importance of apologizing, but also realizing that trust might be broken again. Realizing that life continues to move on even with our struggles, goes hand in hand with understanding that wrongdoing *might* occur again.

I Gave You Power

Life isn’t fair. We hear this phrase from time to time whether it be from our parents or friends to justify instances of improper treatment. Unfortunately, many people live this reality every day, persecuted by prejudiced laws and generations of inequality.

In his second studio album “It Was Written”, which was released in 1996, Nas reflects on his experiences growing up in NYC’s Queensbridge housing projects during the height of the crack epidemic in the 80s and 90s. Nas’s life embodies the “Life isn’t fair” phrase that low-income Black Americans were too acquainted with at the time. His unique ability to poetically share his experience saved him from a life of drugs, gangs, and violence, and gave us a taste of his life story through songs like “I Gave You Power”. Lyrics can be found here.

“I Gave you Power” is truly a one-of-a-kind song. Its central meaning reflects the paradox of gun violence in the impoverished neighborhood Nas grew up in. On one hand, Nas talks about needing to bear arms for protection in the violent streets. On the other hand, he acknowledges the destruction guns have on his neighborhood and future generations. The short-term need to carry a gun for safety perpetuates the long-term danger of gun violence in his neighborhood. Economical pressures to make money force him to live unsafely. Throughout the song, there are hints of the conflicts between Nas vs. the police and the thought process needed to survive in a constant high-pressure environment.

Damn! Look how muh-fuckers use a n****
Just use me for whatever the fuck they want
I don’t get to say shit
Just grab me, just do what the fuck they want
Sell me, throw me away
N***** just don’t give a fuck about a n**** like me right?
Like I’m a f… I’m a gun, shit

In the opening verse, Nas compares the way he gets treated from his friends to a gun. This personification of a gun continues as an extended metaphor throughout the song. This line is important because it sets up the context for the rest of the song. This metaphor is powerful because it shines a light on the dehumanization and objectification that people like Nas experienced growing up.

How you like me now? I go blaow
It’s that shit that moves crowds makin every ghetto foul
I might have took your first child
Scarred your life, crippled your style
I gave you power
I made you buck wild

This interlude shines a light on the destruction cause by gun violence around the housing projects that Nas grew up in. In these few lines, Nas talks about the pain that mothers feel to see their kids succumb to gun violence, the communal PTSD associated with death, and the repurcussions of living paralyzed. The last two lines talk about the effects of carrying guns from the carriers perspective. They note that it makes them powerful and more likely to act crazily or “buck wild.”

He squeezed harder, I didn’t budge, sick of the blood
Sick of the thugs, sick of wrath of the, next man’s grudge
What the other kid did was pull out, no doubt
A newer me in better shape, before he lit out, he lead the chase
My owner fell to the floor, his wig split so fast
I didn’t know he was hit, it’s over with
Heard mad n***** screamin, n***** runnin, cops is comin
Now I’m happy, until I felt somebody else grab me
Damn!

The ending lines of the song, this excerpt shines a light on the cycle of violence experienced in the Queensbridge housing projects. The story follows a gun that jams, which causes the victim to turn into a murderer. The gun, which is temporarily given feelings, laments that someone else picks up the gun and continues the cycle. Much like the gun, Nas awaits an end to the violence, and is constantly let down through the environment he lives in.

Letting someone go and what you lose

Often times someone does not realize what they have until its gone. Sometimes you don’t realize the true value of someone and all they bring until they are gone. This is what happened to singer songwriter Passenger and he wrote about it in hit Let her go in his album all the little lights. He wrote this song after a breakup and the lyrics are about him realizing how important this person was in his life and all the factors they brought to his life. He uses long metaphors and strong language to convey what he feels and tells it as a cautionary tale of beware of what you can lose. He starts out the song with the multidimensional lyrics

Well, you only need the light when it’s burning low
Only miss the sun when it starts to snow
Only know you love her when you let her go

The quote talks about how you don’t realize you need the light or the sun until its gone and one realizes all it did for you. The word burning is strong as it can show his love is still burning for the person, the candle light is low, and he feels like he is burning now that he feels empty. The multiple uses of the word conveys all the different emotions he feels as he is writing this and trying to convey them all in the song. He also uses metaphors to show what his love was like when he says

Only hate the road when you’re missing home
Only know you love her when you let her go

He comparing the feeling of being homesick when you miss your home to how he misses the person he loved. This also shows the anaphora in the song. The melody that is repeated multiple times starts with only. This repetitions shows all these different things come together to show how much he loves her and misses her.

Finally he uses imagery to convey his emotions to fully help the listener understand what it is like.

Staring at the ceiling in the dark
Same old empty feeling in your heart

The imagery of someone heartbroken in the dark after the light before mentioned went out feeling empty is well conveyed here. He is able to convey his strong emotions into the words and that is why this song is a form or poetry. Many different ways Passengers is able to convey the feeling he has and what he has realized after the person he loved is gone.

Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve

In 2009, 32 year old singer John Mayer was rumored to be romantically involved with then, 19 year old Taylor Swift after the two collaborated on Mayer’s, “Half of My Heart” together. A few months later, it became clear a split had taken place, especially after Swift’s 2010 album Speak Now included a biting break-up track, titled “Dear, John.” Seemingly confirming both the relationship and the break up, Swift vividly depicted the volatility of their short-lived romance and the regret she had looking back on all of the warnings she ignored about Mayer and their relationship in her spin on a “Dear, John letter.” In the decade-plus following the release of the album, Mayer made it incredibly clear there was no love lost between him and Swift, even remarking that the track was “cheap songwriting” in a Rolling Stone interview.

With Swift now 32 herself, it was unsurprising to many fans when she revisited this previous relationship, ripe with power imbalances, in her newest album Midnights. “Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve” is a scathing sequel to “Dear John” made even more poignant with the powerful insight Swift now has on just how inappropriate their relationship truly was. It is a relationship that keeps her up at night, to this day, 12 years later; desperately longing for the girl she used to be, before she was corrupted by Mayer.

Swift writes in the first stanza:

If I was some paint, did it splatter

On a promising grown man?

And if I was a child did it matter

If you got to wash your hands?

This lyric is the perfect opening to the song, establishing the reality of just how many eyes were on their relationship at the time. Swift had notoriously been a target for the media’s slut-shaming, and her relationship with Mayer was no exception. Despite the fact that she was the younger, less successful, less powerful and less wealthy of the two, she was still criticized for her role in their relationship. She was seen as the one tainting his “promising” reputation, or splattering paint on him as it were, when in reality he was the one crossing lines as the true adult in the relationship. She establishes the imbalance further, stating outright that she was nothing more than a “child” during their romance, while he was a “grown man.” Furthermore, she references the saying “washing your hands of someone” to show just how much Mayer wanted to forget about their relationship after it ended. He wanted to wash the paint she splattered on him away, and he can. He erases her from his life just as easily as he could get paint of his skin. For Taylor, it’s not that easy, though. What was just a few months for him, is something she can never escape. What he did to her haunts her everyday:

I regret you all the time

I can’t let this go

I fight with you in my sleep

The wound won’t close

I keep on waiting for a sign

I regret you all the time

There is a clear sense of desperation to these lyrics. The lingering emotions and damage from their relationship spill out into every aspect of Swift’s life. Even in her unconscious mind she is thinking about him, longing for closure. Like a wound that keeps getting opened up again and again. She can’t escape the effects of the cut, no matter how long ago it happened, it is too deep and permanently changes and disfigures her. She regrets him in her conscious moments as well, so deeply, in fact, that shes looking to a higher power with her pleas for closure.The sign she’s looking for is a reference to a sort of bargaining with god to restore her to the innocent child she once was before she was touched by Mayer. The song is filled with religious illusions depicted in the lines above and below in order to portray the innocence that Swift was robbed of as a result of their relationship:

I would’ve stayed on my knees

And I damn sure never would’ve danced with the devil

At nineteen

This relationship was Swift’s fall from grace. She depicts her self, devoted in prayer, or staying on her knees, as a way to represent the purity of her life before Mayer. She states that “all I used to do was pray” and without the influence of Mayer, or the devil as she not so subtly portrays him, she would’ve “gone along with the righteous.” She was on the path of virtue and innocence, before she was lured in to the hands of the devil. He was the one who took her away from “god” and “innocence” and changed her. She wishes she could go back to them simplicity of before she was taken advantage of.

Mayer was incredibly alluring, and in many interviews Swift remarks how excited she was to be working with Mayer because she was such a big fan of his. She writes:

If you never saved me from boredom

I could’ve gone on as I was

But, lord, you made me feel important

And then you tried to erase us

Oh, you’re a crisis of my faith

Mayer was able to slip into her life offering excitement, praying on her naivete at just 19 years old. Her “crisis” was her youth and her belief in Mayer and his words: making her feel loved and important in ways she had never felt because of her youth. He groomed her, much like the saying “idle hands make the devil’s work,” Mayer took her into his world and corrupted her, irrevocably changing her. Then a few months later he decides he doesn’t want anything to do with her anymore so he erases her from his life, easily, like he washed the paint of his hands earlier.

The most heartbreaking line of the song is when Swift finally ends the bridge the song had been building to:

Living for the thrill of hitting you where it hurts

Give me back my girlhood, it was mine first

This is just the nail in the coffin for Mayer. It is a true highlight of just how young Swift was when she experienced this trauma. The lines are incredibly childish, the first one reading like an eye for an eye almost: he hurt her so she wants to hurt him back. Now, she finally sees just how wrong what happened was, and in a childlike way she wants to get back at him even though in her current perspective as an adult she knows she can’t. The following line clinches the absolute heartbreak of the song. The “it was mine first” plays a duel role in again highlighting the childlike nature of her 19 year old self, perfectly encapsulating the gap of maturity in the relationship but also revealing just how much Mayer stole from her. Their relationship ripped her out of her childhood and she can’t forget it that so easily like Mayer can.

Taylor Swift’s “Dear John”

On October 25th, 2010 Taylor Swift released her third studio album, Speak Now. The 5th track on the album was entitled “Dear John” as an ode to Swift’s short-lived and controversial relationship with singer-songwriter John Mayer. Swift has called the song a “last email” that you send to an ex, unloading everything that was left unsaid. Some also interpret the song to be representative of a Dear John Letter, an old expression used that refers to a wife or girlfriend writing to inform a man their relationship is over. The lyrics emulate the hurt and frustration Swift felt over how she was treated by Mayer, and how she ignored the warnings she received.

And I lived in your chess game, – But you changed the rules every day

Lines 7-8

This lyric uses the comparison of their relationship to a game, with Swift claiming Mayer changed the rules to suit whatever his needs were at the time. When she didn’t please him or follow his “rules” he would lash out at her creating an extremely toxic relationship. This use of comparison is powerful because it shows the manipulation and gaslighting occurring throughout the course of an entire relationship in just two lines. These lines invest listeners right away in their relationship, and give them a clear idea of the exact conflicts taking place.

All the girls that you’ve run dry – Have tired, lifeless eyes – ‘Cause you burned them out – But I took your matches before fire could catch me, – So don’t look now, I’m shining like fireworks over your sad, empty town

Lines 29-32

The use of fire and light imagery is used to show Swift’s feelings after breaking free from Mayer. Throughout the whole song she is recalling what she escaped and how she denied him the satisfaction of ruining her like he did in his previous relationships. Fire is often associated with knowledge and the entire song is about her knowing better now, repeatedly saying “I should’ve known” at the end of each chorus. Swift, unlike the other women, was able to escape Mayer before she completely lost herself. The last line is a sort of emphasis on the overall theme of the song, that she’s better off than he is, now knowing the extent of his corruption.

Don’t you think I was too young to be messed with? – The girl in the dress wrote you a song – You should’ve known, you should’ve known – Don’t you think I was too young? You should’ve known

Lines 37-40

The repetition of the line “you should’ve known” in this final stanza solidifies Swift’s overall message of reflection and regret, while also leaving the intended listener, Mayer, with a message: that he should have known better. This line diverges slightly from the previous iterations of the chorus which end with “I should’ve known” instead. She was 19 years old at the time of their relationship and he, twelve years her senior, certainly knew better. It is only at the very end, after Swift recalls everything Mayer did to her and the lessons she learned, that she flips the message on him. The repetition reinforces the idea that Mayer is in the wrong and now that Swift understands what she went through, she places responsibility on him, not just on herself. Over and over again she emphasizes the realization, she should have listened to the warnings and seen the signs, but ultimately the blame lies with him. It is at the end of the song that Swift emphasizes the growth she achieved after their relationship, no matter how painful it was to get to that point.

After the Love Has Gone

After the Love Has Gone” appears in Earth, Wind, and Fire’s album I Am, which came out in 1979. The band is wildly experimental, venturing into jazz, funk, disco, gospel, R&B, and pop. The general style of “After the Love Has Gone” is R&B, with slow progressions and a variety of instruments including trumpet, electric piano, and trombone.

“After the Love Has Gone” conveys the speaker’s troubled relationship and how it started from the beginning to the present. It also shows the confusion of love, desire, and logic in relationships. The speaker doesn’t know what happened to make the relationship feel so blue or lose its spark.

Somethin’ happened along the way
And yesterday was all we had

He uses the word ‘somethin’ instead of explaining what that something is, which alludes to his confusion about what actually happened to lead him and this relationship to the way it is now. It seems as though their past together was happier and more stable, as the word yesterday is in the past, but metaphorically it means the entirety of the past, not just yesterday in particular.

For a while, to love was all we could do
We were young and we knew, and our eyes were alive

He explains that relationships need much more than love; they need maintenance, logic, perseverance, and other traits to be fully functional. It insinuates that at that time there were stark stressors and all they could do was love, and instead of really gaining something from the relationship they only stuck with it because they felt it was the only option.

Oh, after the love has gone
What used to be right is wrong
Can love that’s lost be found?

It also turns upside-down the thought process of people found when the base of their relationship, love, is lost. He specifically shows the disruption using the phrase “what used to be right is wrong” showing that the idea of love and his relationship played such a big role in his life that it seems as though he’s lost everything. He also asks a rhetorical question that seems like a last-ditch effort to restore what they once had, or could even be denial of the idea that they have no future together.

Red, Blue, and Dark Gray

Love has many aspects that are nearly impossible to fully explain or even understand. Many artists of all varieties even attempt to capture the idea of love in many different mediums, however, singer and songwriter, Taylor Swift is best at capturing all aspects of love. Specifically in her song Red, from her 4th album, Red. Taylor swift writes this song to explain all the complex side effects of being in love. She begins each stanza with a comparison of an aspect of love to a color or specific familiar moment. She opens up her song by comparing love to a feeling many listeners know all too well. 

“Loving him is like driving a new Maserati down a dead-end street”

She immediately catches the listener’s attention by writing about a feeling most people have experienced before, driving. In many of Swift’s songs she alludes to the feeling of driving, however, in this opening sentence, she intentionally compares that feeling to love. 

In the Chorus of Red, she begins to repeatedly compare complex aspects of love to different colors. Her chorus is repeated three times over in the song. Taylor Swift is sharing her personal experience of love and being in love in this song. Red is released right after she breaks up with her boyfriend, Jake Gyllenhaal. Jake Gyllenhaal was about 9 years older than Taylor Swift which created many problems as Swift was 21 and Gyllenhaal was 30. Swift uses simile after simile to describe the feelings she felt while being in love with an older man. 

“Losing him was blue like I’d never known

Missing him was dark gray, all alone

Forgetting him was like tryin’ know somebody you never met

But loving him was red”

Lastly, the diction that Swift uses creates a poetic tone in order to address the complexity of love. For example, this complexity is represented through her frequent change in tone from stanza to stanza. The first stanza of her song makes listeners think fondly of love and long to be in love. However, as the song progresses, Swift describes the negative aspects of the love that left her feeling broken and sad. 

“Memorizing him was as easy as knowing all the words

To your old favorite song

Fighting with him was like trying to solve a crossword

And realizing there’s no right answer”

The big shift in tone here is portrayed through Swift’s lyrics as well as the instruments used in the section of the song. 

Count Me Out as Poetry

While life is full of joyful experiences, there are also many moments of isolation. In his expository two-part concept album, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers, Kendrick Lamar reflects on his self, insecurities, and psyche. He specifically references how he handles depression and pressure when it feels like the world is against him in his song Count Me Out. In reflecting on his own experience he centralizes his idea and turns criticism into motivation. His self-reflection provides listeners relief with the opportunity to relate their experiences to his own feelings of depression and isolation.

He is successful in utilizing multidimensional language to depict his struggling.

“I ain’t there too much, I’m a complex soul
They layered me up, then broke me down
And moralities dust, I lack in trust”

Kendrick Lamar

The word “layered” contributes multiple meanings to this phrase and song as a whole:

  1. Figurative imagery of feeling suffocated
  2. Reference to the media’s depiction of Kendrick Lamar
  3. Provides contrast to when he was “broke[n] down”

Additionally, He attributes his self-reliance to his ability to overcome his feelings of depression and isolation.

“I fought like a pit bull terrier, blood I shed could fill up aquariums
Tell my angels, “Carry ’em
Even my strong points couldn’t survive
If I didn’t learn to love myself, forgive myself a hundred times, dawg”

Kendrick Lamar

In using both a simile and a metaphor in the same line he is able to effectively demonstrate his ability to overcome his pain.

In comparing himself to a “pitbull” and the description of the figurative blood he shed being enough to fill up an aquarium it is evident that he had to endure pain in order to overcome his pain. It is also a unique way to express this as he represents his emotional turmoil by equating himself to a dominant animal and alluding to the physical amount of work he did.

He ends his song with the final lyric “Anybody fightin’ through the stress?” This rhetorical question ties together his song by relating it to the listeners. He is able to universalize his experiences to those of his audience.

21

In her hit single, “21”, Gracie Abrams sings about the pain and heartache of lost love. She mourns a recent breakup, feeling a mix of regret and thinking of what could’ve been. Although it is unknown what caused the two to separate, Abrams utilizes strong poetic language to express just how much of a toll it had taken on her, physically and mentally. She later commented that this song allowed her to say everything she had to say that she was unable to do before, allowing her to release her bottled up feelings, much like poetry itself.

21: Link to song’s full lyrics

I’m sorry if you blame me, if I were you I would
Thought you’d see it coming, but you never could
I still haven’t heard from your family
But you said your mom always loved me

Abram’s use of AABB rhyming scheme helps pull the reader in to the story she is telling. Her song is directed towards the person she is missing, while also being able to resonate with a general audience of listeners who may have gone through a similar experience. This makes the song more real, diving more into the aftermath of a breakup that involves not only the severed bond between those dating, but to the other’s family as well.

Just because you’re hurting doesn’t mean I’m not
If it doesn’t go away by the time I turn thirty
I made a mistake and I’ll tell you I’m sorry
“Sorry”

Her use of “Hurting” here goes both ways, both for the other person and herself. She shoulders the blame and regret, which people may use as a way to justify the pain she is feeling. But it goes beyond that, showing the weight of a breakup and how it affects both parties, no matter how big or small.

When the night is over
Don’t call me up I’m already under

Abram’s multidimensional language used here is the many interpretations of “under”. She’s at her lowest underneath, out of reach of those around her. She feels crushed under self-loathing and past mistakes. Someone going under is another way to say that they are feeling defeated and overwhelmed. It all ties back to her central theme that inspects all layers of her pain, from the surface level to the furthest depths. Along with this, she utilizes contrast with two opposites by following “up” with “under”. She feels submerged in her misery, unable to reach the surface or free herself of drowning guilt that would plague her for years.