Time Alone With You, Jacob Collier

Jacob Collier’s, “Time Alone with You”, featuring Daniel Caesar, off of the album Djessie vol. 3, is a fun song that is really just about wanting to spend time with a girl.

The song opens with

If you wanna get sunshine (All night)
Walkin’ on the rooftop (Moonlight)
I’ma go get some
Time alone with you (Ah-ooh)

In this stanza, as well as most of the stanzas in this song, the main lyrics are Daniel Caesar’s lines, and when he sings them, he doesn’t change his voice inflection very much. This gives off the impression of being chill or relaxed, which is the side of himself that he shows to the girl that he’s talking about in this song.

The lines that follow Daniel’s lines, however, have a slightly different meaning.

All you wanna get’s sunshine (All night)
Walkin’ on the rooftop (Moonlight)
We could cut the chit chat (All night)
I dig it when I get that (Moonlight)

These kinds of lines are see all throughout the song, especially in the first and last stanzas. These extra couple of words that follow Daniels are sung by Jacob Collier, in a much higher pitched tone, which sounds very unnatural and crazy. The side that Daniel shows is chill, but inside his head all he wants is this girl.

Finally, near the middle of the song we see these lines:

The most beautiful girl in the whole wide world
And she’s mine, all mine
And I want her to know that my feelings show
I need time
(Gimme time alone with you)

These are sung by both Jacob and Daniel, and this is when Daniel starts to give in to his feelings, and starts to show a less relaxed side of himself, because of how much he wants this girl. This eventually fades, and Daniel goes back to his chill self to end the song.

Another Ed Sheeran Song

Ed Sheeran’s song “Eraser” from his Divide album, conveys the experience of a struggling musician. The story explains the difficulties that can come with this career choice like family jealousy, financial problems, and the standard that musicians should be happy because they are following their dreams and it was their choice to be ‘impractical.’ This musician has gone on a journey to get to where he is now and in order to cope with all of the stress that comes with it, he used alcohol and drugs to numb and erase all of the pain away.

In the first verse Sheeran sings,

"And when the world's against me is when I really come alive." 

Sheeran uses hyperbole to explain how the speaker feels under all of the pressure he is feeling. Obviously the whole world is not against him, it is an exaggeration, but this shows how stressful the industry can be. I think that the emotions that occur when life is just not going the way you want it to and bad things keep happening is a relatable experience to many. This hyperbole also shows the strength of alcoholism. Stress can spark a desire to drink drink more which explains why the speaker uses it as a coping mechanism. I think that this can also be a use of personification because the eraser becomes alive when there is more stress. When the speaker becomes overwhelmed those are the best times to use the pain eraser.

Sheeran uses a lot of metaphors to describe his journey,

'To be caught up in the trappings of the industry
Show me the locked doors, I'll find another use for the key
And you'll see" 

Sheeran compares locked doors to the journey he had to overcome to get to where he is now. When he says “I’ll find another use for the key,” he explains all of the different situations in which he had to find a different way to accomplish his end goal. He could not just unlock the door with a key he would have to kick it down or something in order to take steps positively impacting his career.

In the final chorus Sheeran sings,

"And I'll find comfort in my pain eraser
And I'll find comfort in my pain eraser
And I'll find comfort in my pain eraser
And I'll find comfort in my pain eraser"

Sheeran uses repetition to demonstrate how difficult it was to live with this situation and how much alcohol helped him through it. Since he repeats the line four times, I think it represents how he needed to reassure himself that his life was going to get better and that he would eventually be a successful musician. However for the time being, this was going to be how he got through daily life. Repeating it convinced himself that it was an acceptable action to take part in. The repetition helps tell the story because it shows how he struggled through the experience and how he could only rely on himself and alcohol.

Sheehan uses hyperbole, metaphors, and repetition to convey his story of a drunk and struggling musician who ends up being successful but with the help of no one but himself.

Will God be there?

“Will You Be There” is a song by Michael Jackson which was released as a in 1993, it is part of the album Dangerous and also appeared on the soundtrack to Free Willy. The speaker is clearly Michael Jackson himself, or anyone placed in the difficult situations he was in when composing this song. However, the audience of the song is a strange one indeed, nothing of this world makes sense to be the true audience – except for God. When looked at in this fashion, this song turns into a plea for divine help from someone in the darkest times of his life. The song begins:

Hold me
Like the River Jordan

After doing some digging, we find that the River Jordan is a sacred river, whose waters have a spiritual significance that make it distinct from other rivers. It is also supposedly the place where Jesus was baptized, so we can conclude that Michael Jackson is personally asking God for him to be held metaphorically like he was on the first day he entered into his religion. Towards the end of the song, Jackson asks for forgiveness claiming:

But I’m only human

These few words can be taken to mean many different things. The simplest meaning or the most literal is that Jackson is complaining about the strict standards for men in today’s society mentioned earlier in the song. However, it can also be seen that in this line, the speaker is letting go, completely giving up, recognizing that the problem is out of his hands and placing the burden on God’s shoulders. After all this drama buildup, the last two lines bring in a hopeful and much needed twist:

You’ll be there for me
And care enough to bear me

These lines can serve as a volta, similar to a sonnet, where the problem and the emotional intensity and dissatisfaction become resolved at a divine epiphany at the end, very often immortalizing or idealizing some kind of love or person, which is exactly what happens with these lines, in which Jackson gives an affirmative answer to the question “Will you be there?”

Big Yellow Taxi

“Big Yellow Taxi”, which appears on Joni Mitchell’s Ladies of the Canyon, invokes a sense of urgency about preventing environmental degradation. This song was written in the 1960s, around the time that environmental and preservation movements first gained momentum. Mitchell wrote “Big Yellow Taxi” on a trip to Hawaii. In an interview, she described the parking lot below her hotel window that inspired this song as a “blight on paradise”. This song is said to be the inspiration behind many cities curbing their urban development in favor of greenspace.

In the first verse, Mitchell sings:

They paved paradise and put up a parking lot

With a pink hotel, a boutique, and a swingin’ hot spot

Mitchell critiques society’s tendency to replace undeveloped land with the asphalt and buildings. The paving of “paradise” represents the degradation of nature for commercialization. Describing the land as paradise stresses its natural beauty, whereas the mention of the pink hotel and the “swingin’ hot spot” communicate artificiality.

Mitchell continues to express her environmental concerns when she sings:

They took all the trees, put ’em in a tree museum

And they charged the people a dollar and a half just to see ’em

She argues not only for the protection of the environment, but also against capitalism. Mitchell’s jab at a “tree museum” is in reference to Foster Botanical Garden in Honolulu, which is a living museum of tropical plants. She uses the irony of this situation to illustrate a very real and imminent problem.

Through both the chorus and the final verse, Mitchell strays from her environmental call to action and political stances with a personal connection, leaving the song up for more than one interpretation:

Don’t it always seem to go

That you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone?

Late last night, I heard the screen door slam

And a big yellow taxi took away my old man

By describing the loss of either a lover or a father, she relates environmental issues to other genuine concerns of human beings. She illustrates that the loss of a loved one and the loss of a natural environment are actually very similar. She makes the issue more identifiable and relatable to those who do not believe they are directly impacted by loss of nature. Through her admiration of nature, criticism of capitalistic society, and personal loss, Joni Mitchell communicates to listeners that everyone should be concerned about the environment because everyone has something at stake. This song is nothing less than a poem because of because of how her convincing diction romanticizes environmentalism and her personal connections and experiences leave for open-endedness.

Reptilia

“Reptilia” by the Strokes uses both quips of dialogue and creative imagery to portray a scene in which the speaker becomes increasingly frustrated with a woman’s advances towards him. The title “Reptilia” refers to a speakers reptilian brain in this instance. A reptilian brain in this instance would be one that is less mature, and only focuses on passion and anger.

“You sound so sleepy, just take this, now leave me”

This is the first line of dialogue presented by the speaker. The speaker is most likely at some sort of party or social gathering that is boring him. A woman who is trying to talk to him notices his boredom, and offers him some sort of drug to perk him up. He most likely refuses.

The wait is over, I’m now taking over

You’re no longer laughing, I’m not driving fast enough

The chorus is set later on in the night, the speaker becomes fed up with the situation. He is taking control of the conversation. He lets the woman know that neither of them are enjoying their interaction.

The room is on fire and she’s fixing her hair
“You sound so angry, just calm down, you found me”

We are now presented with the image of the party set ablaze by their arguing. While the speaker becomes enraged the woman decides to back off and wait out his yelling while she fixes her hair. She eventually reveals her motives to talking to him, which he new all along.

The song ends with the chorus again. This asserts that the speaker was able to reveal the woman’s true motives and take control of the situation.

You should try to get some sun

Rylan by The National comes off of their 2019 album I Am Easy To Find. The song is about an introverted teenage man named Rylan. His struggles to fulfill his parents’ hopes that he comes out of his shell “Rylan, did you break your mother’s heart?/Every time you tried to play your part” Rylan’s feeling of isolation becomes so dark that the singer makes an allusion to suicide, “Rylan, we can take the quick way out/You can turn blank-white in a blank-white house.” The narrator uses an ABAB rhyming scheme in the first stanza “Rylan, you should try to get some sun/You remind me of everyone/Rylan, did you break your mother’s heart?/Every time you tried to play your part,” and illustrates the low esteem that Rylan is developing.

“Change your mind and nothing changes.” In the choruses, the narrator advises Rylan to change his pessimestic attitude and to start approaching people. He must develop his social skills and learn to cope with rejection, just like everybody else. With the repetition of the first line, it creates a sense of urgency as if Rylan is running out of time to try to adjust his introvert habits, “Rylan, you should try to get some sun. / You remind me of everyone. / Rylan, you should try to get some sun. /A little bit of heaven in everyone”. It is amazing how Matt Berninger can see through certain characters and explain them in these very poetic and sympathetic ways. Through quick lines and often rhyming The National is able to tell the story and explain the feelings of a hypothetical but realistic teenager.

Afire Love

Afire Love“, from Ed Sheeran’s x (multiply) album, is a very powerful song. I have connected with many of his songs over the years, but this one hits different. The reason this song is so powerful is because it tells a story within a story. It starts out with a boy talking about his grandpa dying of Alzheimer’s. The chorus shifts to the perspective of the grandpa’s wife telling the story of how they fell in love. By doing this, Sheeran is showing that you can think back to the good times rather than get defeated by the problems you may be facing now. Listening to this song can help give perspective to people who may be in a similar situation.

The most obvious technique he uses to deepen the meaning of this song is the constant switch in perspective. He starts the song through his own eyes singing, “I heard the doctors put your chest in pain, but then that could have been the medicine”. He then switches to his dad’s point of view in the pre-chorus. He says, “And my father told me son. It’s not his fault he doesn’t know your face. And you’re not the only one”. He is showing how the father is trying to make his child understand how sad the situation is. He wraps it up by writing the chorus through the eyes of his grandma. He says, “Darling hold me in your arms the way you did last night and we’ll lie inside a little while here, oh”. When he does this he is showing that a death has different effects on different people. Some may have a more innocent outlook (like him) and some may have a more positive outlook, like the grandmother.

Besides the constant switch in perspective, Sheeran also uses a metaphor that compares sickness and death to the devil. “Things were all good yesterday. And then the devil took your memory” and “Things were all good yesterday. And the the devil took your breath away”. While comparing the devil to death is relatively basic, he does it in a way that makes everyone think his grandpa was taken too soon. Saying that the devil took his life is a very intense way of saying that he died. It shows how horrible the death was for everyone because someone “passing away” sends a very different message from someone who’s breath is being taken by the devil. The final way Sheeran conveys the message of love and loss is the repetition in the end of the song. He sings, “And my father, and all of my family rise from the seats to sing hallelujah” . He then repeats this line but replacing “father” with “mother”, “sisters”, and “brothers”. By including every person in this ending, he is showing how the death has brought the family together. The message he wants to leave you with is that grieving can bring more love than ever before.