“Sonsick” and the Suburban Nightmare

Sonsick is a song off of San Fermin’s self-titled album, released in 2013. It was the first single released. San Fermin is known for being orchestral and for its many musicians, 22 musicians being recorded for this album. This particular song is primarily sung by Holly Laessig, and written by Ellis Ludwig-Leone.

The theme of this song, or perhaps rather the point, is that our society’s obsession with typical suburban life will inevitably lead to people’s lives being unfulfilled. The first, and last, line of the song sets the tone: “I found me a hopeless case and resolved to love”. The speaker has found someone broken that cannot be fixed, and will resign herself to loving them. This is continued into the second half of the verse, with the lines:

I’ll fall for you soon enough, I resolve to love

Now I know it’s just another fuck, cause I’m old enough

These lines demonstrate how the speaker is trying to commit herself to someone she doesn’t love yet. She knows that she doesn’t care about the relationship, but is forcing meaning onto it anyway.

In the second verse, there is a jump in time.

All dressed in my Sunday best when I solve you, love

Maybe find a place where we could rest when we’re old enough

We can have a dog and all the rest, we can live it up

Now she is referring to the audience as “love”, implying that she has succeeded in her commitment. She also switches from “I” to “we”, showing more cohesion in how she views the relationship. However, the third line to me implies something somewhat sinister. She refers to starting a life with her partner as “all the rest”, showing some level of disinterest in that suburban life. The phrase “live it up” is almost sarcastic: this life she is starting is not fun.

Sonsick at the tee-ball games, I absolve you, love

Maybe find a place and think of names when we’re old enough

Make plans and we’ll buy new things, try to fix it up

Here we get another time jump and the title drop: “sonsick”. This is a word San Fermin invents here. To me, it means simultaneously yearning for sons and sick of sons. Our speaker proposes having a child; they will “make plans” and “buy new things”. She doesn’t get specific here, continuing to convey disinterest in what’s happening. They’ll plan for something, they’ll buy things, but it doesn’t matter what. It’s just what you’re supposed to do when you get to a certain age.

We haven’t touched upon the chorus yet, so let’s do that now. The chorus alternates between two different singers, both women. I’ll pull out just a few lines for examination:

And when you think you’re thinking clearly

You’re really tied up and committed

But it’s an awful lot of talk

For a fire that burns too quickly

Her thoughts don’t belong to her. She thinks she’s in control, but she’s being controlled, “tied up and committed”. This life she has ahead of her has been hyped up by society and the media. We are constantly shown examples of traditional romance and suburban family life, as though it is the only option for us. But it might not be the best life for everyone. The “fire that burns too quickly” is almost like the honeymoon phase every relationship goes through. At the start, everything seems perfect, and it seems like this feeling will never end. That’s not true, though. While I can’t find consistent numbers, this phase can last anywhere from three months to two years. In any case, it’s not permanent.

The last line of the song is the same as the first: “I found me a hopeless case and resolved to love”. As the song’s verses each jump forward in time, it is unclear if this line is supposed to be another time jump, or a jump back to the beginning.

This song is all about how the typical suburban relationship, a-house-and-2.5-kids-and-a-dog, isn’t right for everyone. However, the pressure society puts on people to live up to that standard forces people into unhealthy relationships and marriages that wouldn’t otherwise last. This raises children in unhealthy environments, which can often damage their mental health for life. The cycle continues, again and again.

Everything about this song is beautiful, including the vocals and the instrumentals, so I would highly recommend listening to it if you have the chance.

One thought on ““Sonsick” and the Suburban Nightmare

  1. Josephine D

    Wow! You did such an amazing job analyzing a song that at first seems so cryptic. I particularly liked how you talked about the use of unspecific phrases like “make plans” and “buy new things” as deliberate songwriting choices that reflect the speaker’s disinterest in suburban life. I think before doing a music poetry analysis myself and reading other people’s, I would have considered vague phrases like that lazy writing, but now I realize that maybe I should give songwriters a bit more credit.
    Also, I totally agree with you that the song is really beautiful. Thanks so much for sharing it!

    Like

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