Violent Crimes – Kanye West

 https://genius.com/Kanye-west-violent-crimes-lyrics

“Violent Crimes” by Kanye West speaks upon his personal growth as a father and his shifting views on the world with his daughters growing up in it. This piece portrays the world negatively although later we see him learn through trial and error that it’s all apart of parenthood. West elaborates on potential but typical situations that parents endure with their daughters like their developing bodies, potential abusive relationships, and his past negative actions. However, we now see his views have developed after fathering daughter North West. Overall, the order of events in which his story is presented, the tone in which he raps and the message, categorize this song into a form of poetry.  

The lengthy intro to the song begins with extended and mellow piano tones as well as a female whose voice matches the instrumental effects. Later, West’s verse rapidly switches the tone as his extremely powerful word choice and stern voice include his thoughts towards fathering North as well as expressing fears of her being victimized by men. The need for West to keep his daughter protected from “pimps”, “monsters” and “playas” is mentioned by him. (15) West also combines forces using artists like Ty Dolla Sign, 070 Shake, as well as a voicemail message from rapper Nicki Minaj.  

On top of including these features West touches upon the physical aspect of growing up. The way that the world is set up, certain things are desired physically from men therefore creating set physical expectations from women. It is extremely apparent that this piece draws out the negativity in our ways as a society. As well as defining the negative values that women are associated with in present day. 

“I pray your body’s draped more like mine and not like your mommy’s”.

“Curves under your dress, I know it’s pervs all on the ‘net”


I understand that Kanye West is a controversial person in society today and that this song received an intense amount of negative feedback although I feel you cant let your views cloud your judgment with this one. It really broke down the parental role and shifted my mindset to understand what my parents endure without me even thinking twice about it. Some perceive the message detrimental although appear to be looking into the meaning more than intended. This piece proves itself as extremely transparent if you simply just listen.

Beloved and Perspective

Beloved was an amazing book, but one of the most important factors that makes it so good was the perspective that the book gave. The book gave a view that is not often written from, and it gives this book so much power. First off, the whole book is based off a true story of a slave mother killing her child. When you first hear that, it sounds twisted, which it is, but upon further analysis of it, you see what really is twisted. This mother killed her child because she didn’t want it to live through slavery. The thought of that is chilling. A mother’s love for her baby is universally seen as one of the greatest, deepest loves, and slavery caused this woman not to abandon her baby, but to kill it. That’s an interesting and scary story, but getting the whole thing from the point of view of the person who did it, that is what is so powerful. Although it is a fictional story, Morrison does an amazing job of opening the readers eyes to the true atrocities that occurred

To see everything from an enslaved person’s perspective made the book what it is. To see their lives, and hear their pain, it really makes a reader want to understand. For me, reading about the bit was very hard. I feel like as I’ve grown, I have seen slavery get progressively worse and worse. What I mean is that when I was younger, it seemed sugarcoated. I think the biggest reason it seemed that way is because of the perspective of the author. Rarely anything we read is from the perspective of a slave, and seeing their fears, hopes, and actions, makes it realer.

One last thing I want to touch on is how perspective changes in the scene where you see that Sethe has killed her baby. The perspective changes to that of the schoolteacher, and his hunting group. When he sees Sethe, with a dead baby, all we get from his POV is that this lady killed her baby. There is no reasoning as to why, or how she felt when it happened. This is just one example of why perspective is so important. We get to see through the eyes of the persecuted, and it tells us a completely different, and real story.

John Denver's Nostalgic Ode to West Virginia

John Denver’s famous hit country song “Take Me Home, Country Roads” was released on April 12th, 1971. Considered as John Denver’s signature song, it was co-written by himself and his good friend Bill Danoff and surprisingly isn’t truly about West Virginia.

To show the poetic meaning of the song, one must look into the context of the writing of the song, as is similarly seen in poems. Bill wrote the song about his home state Maryland, reminiscing about its curving, winding roads. In a state of nostalgia mixed with home sickness, Danoff wrote the piece and presented it to his friend and artist, John Denver. Adding his own twists and turns, Denver created his now most prominent piece, “Take Me Home, Country Roads”.

Almost Heaven, West Virginia

Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River

Life is old there, older than the trees

Younger than the mountains, growing like a breeze

Denver singing to a simple beat, starts his piece with a quatrain. Right away, Denver compares West Virginia to heaven. Denver is using imagery to paint a picture to his listeners. He describes oddly describes life as old followed by describing a breeze as “growing”. I find this odd use of language combined with his detailed features of West Virginia as poetic to his listeners. His singing gives the feeling of nostalgia, a bright look on the past of a country he loved.

Denver’s lines in his hit song also reach multiple dimensions such as the imaginative, sensual, and emotional. This can be seen in the following lyrics.

Misty taste of moonshine

West Virginia, mountain mama

The line “Misty taste of moonshine” gives the listener a sensual feeling. Taste is not normally described as misty, thus the listener imagines the moonshine as misty. The following line “West Virginia, mountain mama” also oddly describes the state as the mother of mountains. Upon hearing this line the listener imagines the mountainous state and can feel the nostalgia that Denver is singing about. This nostalgia is emotional for the listener themselves as they start to recall their own hometown or other matters they are nostalgic about.

Overall, John Denver and Bill Danoff created a poem of nostalgia, that shakes the bones of the listener, painting a picture within their head, and emotionally calling upon their own nostalgic experiences and past.

"I Like Me Better"

The song “I Like Me Better”, by Lauv, is a love song. And similar to most love songs, the lyrics are very poetic because the artist is trying to convey their emotions in the best way possible. “I Like Me Better” is about young love and how they make each other better.

One of the first lines in the song is “To not know who I am but still know that I’m good long as you’re here with me”. Lauv starts the song talking about how he doesn’t really know who he is. Finding yourself is something many people struggle with, and it can be daunting. Lauv then goes on to say “but I still know that I’m good long as you’re here with me”. Lauv is saying that having this other person with him is comforting and reassuring.

The chorus of the song is mainly the repetition of the words, “I like me better when I’m with you”. Lauv is saying that his partner makes him a better person, and he likes this about them. This is a big part of love, and one that will often get over looked. Your partner should make you a better person. Whether it’s in the form of you being inspired by them, or they make you try new things to help you grow. An important part of a relationship is to help each other.

Lauv’s song, “I Like Me Better” is poetic through the meaning behind the lyrics. Lauv turns an inportant part of a relationship into a love song that is very poetic.

The Poetry of Townes Van Zandt

I have a bad habit of listening closer to the melody of lyrics against the harmony of the song than the meaning behind the words, but listening to the song “Fare Thee Well, Miss Carousel” by Townes Van Zandt was one of those instances where I can remember catching lyrics and thinking “wow, I should really be paying attention to this”. While the harmony may not be especially interesting, the lyrics are beautifully put in a way that I just have to appreciate and admire.

Even before really trying to understand the words there was something really profound about them that I couldn’t really explain with literary devices. If you’re going to listen to the song, I’d recommend doing so before reading this, as anything I say will likely not do it justice. I’m glad I had the opportunity to just appreciate it before trying to assign meaning to it.

That being said, I think the song is about a woman who has different men “go for a ride around the carousel” before discarding them and moving on to the next one, but more importantly, the different men who came after the protagonist. I promise it’s less cliche than it sounds.

Van Zandt begins with the line “Well the drunken clown’s still hanging round/but it’s plain the laughter’s all died down” He’s referring to a man, possibly himself, who stayed with with this woman for longer than was good for him. He’s not aware of whats best for him as he’s under her influence and he’s acting like a fool. The image of the drunken clown is also a powerfully disturbing juxtaposition illustrating the corruption of a childlike image. The laughter, something traditionally associated with clowns, has all died down as the good times ended and it’s become clear to everyone else that there is something wrong. There’s something especially haunting about this because it’s not a game anymore; the people around him are silent and concerned as he continues to suffer obliviously.

In the next stanza: “And a blind man with his knife in hand/Has convinced himself that he understands/I wish him well, Miss Carousel/But I got to be a-goin'”, a different man is reacting differently to the end of his relationship with her. The man’s “blindness” represents how he too has not yet figured out this woman’s game. However, any attempt to get him to realize her game makes him defensive, hence the knife in his hand. He thinks he understands her and will blindly lash out at anyone who tries to tell him otherwise. This desperate image is again deeply disturbing; he’s confused and attacking those who try to help him. While the protagonist wants him to wake up and realize whats happening, it’s simply not his job to convince the man who will eventually find out he was wrong.

In all honesty, I was a bit disappointed to come to the conclusion that this was another song about a “cruel woman who uses men”, but as I analyzed the lyrics further, I came to a far greater appreciation of them. Every single line is poetry in a way that I hadn’t anticipated it to be, beyond figurative language and descriptive imagery. This song reflects experience and does so in a way that is far greater than the sum of its incredible imagery, word choice and figurative language.

Poetry in Music: Bon Iver's "29 #Strafford APTS"

Bon Iver is a indie folk band founded by singer-songwriter Justin Vernon. Vernon was launched into fame with his first project “For Emma, forever ago” which he wrote in his hometown of Eau Claire. His fame can largely be attributed to his distinctive falsetto and innovation in the folk genre. Bon Iver’s “29 #Strafford APTS” from 22, a million is one of his most poetic and beautiful songs. The song serves as a reminder of the comfort and shelter found in memories. Additionally, it addresses the tragic temptation of trying to change things back to how they were in the past.

The song begins with the narrator reminiscing about a time they smoked pot with their friends in a parking lot. Then in the second verse Vernon continues this story:

Hallucinating Claire

Nor the snow shoe light or the autumns

Threw the meaning out the door

(Now could you be a friend)

There ain’t no meaning anymore

(Come and kiss me here again)

One the first level, Justin Vernon is referring to someone named Claire hallucinating. The chorus refers to smoking pot (rolling up, holding up) so it can be inferred Claire is someone who was smoking and is now tripping on drugs. However, Vernon commonly uses Claire to Allude to his hometown of Eau Claire. He gives a place a name like a person, emphasizing the personal connection to it. Finally, on a third level, the name Claire means clear in french. So juxtaposing hallucinating with clear and then winter (snow shoe light) with autumn makes Eau Claire seem unrestricted by the limitations of time. This larger than life depiction of Eau Claire further emphasizing Vernon’s strong connection to his hometown.

In the next verse, Vernon tries to put the memories of Eau Claire he has been talking about behind him:

Fold the map and mend the gap

And I tow the word companion

And I make my self escape

Vernon uses sea ship metaphors to address how he has to move on from his past. A person folds a map when they get to their destination and are done navigating. Therefore, when Vernon folds the map he is done with his nostalgic journey. Additionally, towing the word companion is a metaphor for how Vernon is dragged down by his attachment to his former relationship.

In the last chorus of the song, Vernon comes back to the present. He describes the event that triggered him to think about the past:

I hold the note

You wrote and know

You’ve buried all your alimony butterflies

Vernon describes how the narrator is holding the note that their partner gave to them. “Alimony” is a popular legal term that refers to the money paid by an individual to a former partner, usually court ordered during divorce procedures. Therefore, Vernon looks at a note that seems to have lead to a divorce. On a metaphorical level, Narcissus ‘Alimony’ is a type of flower. One of the flower’s pollinators are butterflies. Since the other person has buried these butterflies it means they have lost there chance at getting Alimony by giving this note.