“Everybody’s something” in the eyes of Chance the Rapper

The song I’m gonna write about is “Everybody’s something” by Chance the Rapper on his album Acid Rap. This album was Chance’s second album and the album that blew him up around the Chicago area. However, his national popularity didn’t spike until his eventually Grammy winning breakout third album Coloring book.

Everybody’s Something is a deep commentary on the world where Chance dives into many topics including god and religion, government, models, and and substance usage. Throughout the varied topics, the central message of this song is that everybody means something to somebody out there. Chance is trying to make sure everyone knows that they mean something in this world, whether they know it or not. More than ever, this year shows just how important this message is to remember for everyone. These days, the people closest to us are the only thing keeping us sane. And while this song was written in 2013 well before any of this, the message remains the same.

This song is about as poetic as it gets in the rap world in my opinion. First and foremost, the ability to say more than the words are actually saying is one of the pillars of poetry and something Chance does exceptionally in this song. The line “Why god phone die every time that I call on him. If his had a Twitter, wonder if I would follow him” is an amazing line that fully questions the validity of his religion while stating it in a modern metaphorical style. This is one of many lines that uses this metaphorical references to enhance the powerful messages throughout. The chorus of the song is the same brief 4 lines repeated, but for such a simple chorus is super impactful. A really cool paradox is used in the chorus between the lines “Everybody’s somebody’s everything” and “nobody’s nothing”. These lines are further the message that all people matter, but the artist style and paradox makes it more thoughtful and poetic. The bridge of the song features what might be favorite line: “Nice to see you, Father New Year. Middle Finger Uncle Samuel”. This is a super multidimensional use of words as he’s seemingly excited for the New Year, but calling out the country and/or government. A lot of great poetry ties into social or societal commentary and this is another example of such. I’m not sure if that’s technically a poetic criteria, but I think it’s a very common and valuable element of poetry. These are all many reasons that this song is PURE AND AWESOME poetry.

I’m gonna include a bit of a side note as long as I’m already on the subject somewhat. For everyone that believes Chance isn’t that good and hates on his music, take a look at more of his lyrics. His songs are more lyrically meaningful than pretty much any other rappers, and that’s why he’ll always be one of my favorites. Everyone go listen to some Chance.

More than just “Video Games”

Video Games” is a song by Lana Del Rey in her album “Born to Die.” In this song, Lana Del Rey writes about her experience in a relationship. She talks about what the reality of her relationship was in her verses, and in the chorus, she sings of what she wishes it was. Del Rey’s relationship with this person caused her to lose her career ambitions. It was a fun and laid back relationship, but she wanted more. Lana Del Rey explained that she was desperate for this person, even if the love was not returned. The meaning of the song is to reveal how love, even if non reciprocated, is powerful enough to make someone devoted to another. In her first verse, Lana Del Rey reflects over the reality of her laidback/fun relationship:

Whistlin’ my name
Open up a beer and you say, “Get over here”
And play a video game

The word “whistlin’” creates audible imagery and strengthens the fun aspect of her summer relationship. Additionally, the dialogue “Get over here” allows the listener to imagine their setting and their flirty relationship. Finally, “play a video game,” which is the title of the song, creates another vivid setting and ties together the meaning of the song because she allows her boyfriend to just play video games selflessly. She watches him play video games, and she loves him, though he does not think of her as seriously. Even though her love is not reciprocated, she would do anything for this person.
Additionally, Lana Del Rey uses a metaphor in the chorus of her song in the line:

Heaven is a place on Earth with you

The chorus of her song is meant to set a scene for what she desires in her relationship. With this person, “Heaven is a place on Earth.” Her “heaven” means that everything is perfect with this person in her life.
The concluding lines of the chorus are:

They say that the world was built for two
Only worth living if somebody
Is loving you
And baby, now, you do”

These lines end her chorus or her “perfect reality.” She includes the metaphor, “the world was built for two,” to reveal that her world won’t be whole without this person. She finds life meaningless if she does not have this person. The last line, “And baby, now, you do,” is what she ultimately hopes for in this relationship. She wants this person to love her back in order to make her world whole, though it will never happen.

Poetry: Always Better the First Time?

In his most recent EP our little angel, ROLE MODEL includes a song called “better the first time,” one of my favorites on the EP. The singer describes his struggle with mental illness, being antisocial, and relationships in his new EP. In “better the first time”, the singer gives his take on love, conveying the idea that love and relationships are better the first time, as the title directly states. He goes on to show that the good moments in relationships only last for a short amount of time in the beginning, and then disappear as time goes on. He begins the poem with the lyrics

I'll come clean
It's not me
We're not where we used to be
And that's alright
Love drives by
Comes too quick and then it dies
It's always better the first time

These first lines go along with Perrine’s theory that an important part of poetry is experience, whether it be to know the experience of others or to understand our own experiences better. Not only in the lines above but throughout the entire poem the singer shares his experience with relationships and how he has dealt/deals with relationships running their course. While this fits the first part of Perrine’s claim that poetry shares experience, it also fits the latter claim that poetry can be used to help us understand our own experiences better. For many people, songs say the feelings they cannot, and I think this song is a perfect example of that. This poem can help those who are in the same position as the singer understand their feelings better.

These next lyrics support another key point of any poem: imagery.

I miss scratches on my back
Those acrylics on my spine

Perrine conveys the idea that poems don’t just flatly tell us something, they use vivid details that enable us to imaginatively experience what’s being described. The lines above use imagery in order to make listening to the song an experience in which you can imagine yourself in the world the lyrics have created thanks to the appeal to our senses.

Lastly, Perrine presents an interesting idea concerning poetry, saying that poetry is sometimes ugly rather than beautiful. This can be seen in the lyrics below.

Good times we had
But we'll never get 'em back
And it hurts me too
But that's nothing really new
Everything I love turns to everything I lose

This poem focuses on a pretty depressing topic, saying that every love the singer has had he has lost and that he’ll never get the good times he had in those relationships back. Although it’s rather dark and sad, it still gets the point across gracefully through imagery and putting the listener in the shoes of the singer.

Who Wanted To Leave The Yellow Brick Road, Elton or Bernie?

Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” from his album with the same name is an allusion to The Wizard of Oz. In the novel, Dorothy is lifted away from her drab life on a farm to a fantastical land. There’s magic, a seemingly reality-defying city, and a road made of yellow bricks. Regardless, Dorothy still prefers her own home, humdrum as it may be. The speaker of this song feels similarly. They are enveloped in a life quite different from the one they had when they were growing up on a back road farm. The yellow brick road they’re on is enticing and luxurious. It induces a kind of high, a disconnect from reality. The speaker is riding that high, and has only recently realized that living on the yellow brick road is no way to live.

So goodbye yellow brick road
Where the dogs of society howl
You can’t plant me in your penthouse
I’m going back to my plough

The word “dogs” has multiple levels of meaning. First, it straight out insults the members of this golden bricked society. It implies they are inhumane and dirty. Second, dogs are widely known as being incredibly obedient creatures, who love nothing more than pleasing their owners. Similarly, these golden society members will do anything to obey the whims of the media, and go to great lengths to please it. Another meaning stems from the word “dogging”. The people who share this brick road with the speaker are incessant. They are unrelenting in their criticisms and pursuits. “Plant” is another multi-level word from this passage. The speaker is being planted against their will in a fancy home, in a yellow brick lifestyle. They didn’t choose to be there, but they were forcibly placed. This line also brings the lavish plants that are tended to in extravagant penthouse homes to mind. These plants are inanimate, unable to speak or think. They exist only for background decoration, and are easily ignored in favor of gaudier centerpieces. The speaker feels dogged and ignored, and all around tired of this yellow brick road life. They want to go home.

Although his name is on the album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Elton John didn’t write the lyrics to its title song. The words were written by Bernie Taupin, John’s lyricist and co-songwriter. John was extravagant and campy, while Taupin preferred staying out of the limelight. This arrangement along with the usage of both first and second person pronouns in the lyrics creates the question: who is the speaker of this poem? Is this a message John wanted to send, and he asked Taupin to write it out? Or, is this a letter from Taupin to John, that John has been given to deliver to himself.

“Maybe you’ll get a replacement
There’s plenty like me to be found
Mongrels who ain’t got a penny
Sniffing for tidbits like you on the ground”

If Elton John were the first person subject here, the mongrels could be the record labels, searching for young artists to exploit and make money off of. John could be upset at how he was taken advantage of at such a young age, an idea reflected in the line, “this boy’s too young to be singing/The blues” The speaker’s objection might be that the boy singing is too young to be exploited by a record company, shown through the specific choice of the word “boy”. It could also be that this boy is too young to have anything upsetting to be singing about, as “singing the blues” usually means singing about struggle and hardships. The speaker might be upset that a boy at such a young age has enough emotional fodder to sing about it.

If Taupin is interpreted to be the first person subject, this is a message to John relating how John barely needs him anyways. The speaker feels like he’s nothing special, like he would be easy to replace. His “mongrels” are all the dirt poor artists hoping for a jumpstart to their career. John is the tidbits, the songwriters are desperately searching for anyone to work for, for any chance. Sniffing has connotations of desperation. It brings to mind rodents twitching their whiskers. It also means searching something out, following the wispiest trails. No matter how secretive they’d try to keep their potential split, people would sniff around and find out, and the news would be widely spread. The speaker also resents the fact that his leaving would barely have an effect on John. Maybe John would be upset by it, “It’ll take you a couple of vodka and tonics/To set you on your feet again” but he would soon get over it. After only a couple of drinks, John would be right back in the game, still able to follow his dreams and chase his success.

What do you think you’ll do, then?
I bet they’ll shoot down the plane

This description of shooting down the plane is an interesting action to include. It could be an expression of extreme pessimism. A feeling that the speaker will finally get on the plane, finally be on their way home, and their plane gets shot down before they can make it there. Another perspective could be that the other members of the yellow bricked society could be so desperate to keep the speaker within their reality-defying world, that they’d rather the speaker die than leave. The society members could also be shooting down the plane to create more miserable content for the gossip columns, another tear jerker that could produce clickbait and therefore more profit.

No matter who the truly intended speaker was of this song, it’s a highly interesting poem. A person living the high life, the life that so many yearn for and work towards, tries hard to get away from it. The first person and second person roles are never disclosed, leaving a deep layer of mystery over the song’s meaning. If the speaker is truly Taupin, that creates a kind of crazy dynamic. He might have written this song directed at John, then given it to him, making him sing another’s criticisms of himself to crowds of thousands. Through the different lenses and levels you can view this poem from, it is full of meaning and interesting considerations.

Did You Leave Your Room Tidy?

In her song, “Last Words of a Shooting Star“, Mitski ponders her own existence and if her life was fulfilling. This is my favorite song from her third studio album Bury Me at Makeout Creek. The song provides the experience of facing death and deciding whether or not to fight it.

The song starts with the narrator on a plane that is hit with turbulence, where she is forced to come to terms with her possible death. This near death situation leads her to reflect on her own life, including how she planned to die. She admits in the song that she wanted to “die clean and pretty.” This alludes to the fact that she has thought about her own death before. If she were to die on the plane, it would be easier as she would not have to worry about planning it all out.

There are many moments in the song that use multidimensional language that expand the experience of the narrator and trap the audience in her world. The line that stands out to me the most is, “I am relieved that I’d left my room tidy.” Out of context, this line can be interpreted very literally. The narrator cleaned her room that day and that gave her a sense of relief. Cleaning is good for the soul. However, in the context of the song that deals with imminent death, the line can interpreted as a quiet submission to this fate. If she is going to die, at least she is going knowing that she left her world the way that she wanted it to be preserved. Preserved as a perfect image of who she was. This line is repeated multiple times throughout the song, emphasizing how important the image she left behind is to her sanity. Her tidy room provides a sense of comfort, because that will be the image people will remember when they think of her. “They’ll think of me kindly when they come for my things.”

The narrator evaluates her past love interests while facing death. Her evaluation seems to prove that dying on the plane would not take her away from much. Her past relationships would haunt her as unfulfilling. “And you’d say you love me and look in my eyes/But I know through mine you were looking in yours” Eyes can be interpreted in many different ways. They can be anatomically interpreted as the part of your face that gives the gift of sight. In romantic songs and movies, looking into someone’s eyes is seen as the romantic gesture that symbolizes connection and love on an intense spiritual level. Eyes are the windows to the soul, a vulnerable look into your own humanity. Mitski flips this assumption using the eyes as a way to reveal vanity and one sided relationships. The mirror-like quality of her eyes shows signs that there is a lack of connection and love that could leave her generally unsatisfied with her life.

“And did you know the liberty bell is a replica/Silently housed in its original walls.” Mitski uses a metaphor to expand on the feeling of emptiness. The narrator compares herself to the liberty bell. This metaphor expresses the feeling of not fitting in your own body. She feels as though something has changed within her. She is a replica of herself trapped in her original body. On the outside she looks the same, but on the inside there is something missing. This feeling, as expressed through the metaphor, causes her to feel out of place in her own existence and to not feel frightened by the prospect of her own death.

By the end of the song, the narrator has sufficiently evaluated her life and came to terms with the possibility of dying that day. She realizes that she would be ready to die. “So I am relieved that the turbulence wasn’t forecasted.”

“Good News” is Good Poetry

Mac Miller’s song “Good News” from his album Circles offers an unique look into the artists mind right before his accidental drug overdose in 2018. This song was the first single to be released after Miller’s death and it carefully lays out his struggles with depression and drugs. In his song, Miller reflects on his battle with depression and the day-to-day effects that it had on his mind and body. Miller reiterates throughout his song that others only want to hear that he is doing well and that those around him want him to ignore his negative feelings. The most commonly remembered part of Miller’s poem is the chorus which he begins by stating,

Good news, good news, good news

That’s all they wanna hear

Millers repetition of the words good news not only reinforces his idea that others do not want to know about his personal struggles, but offers insight into Miller’s mind as he reminds himself to put up a positive front. Also, Miller’s low tone throughout his poem hints to his audience that he is constantly battling with himself. By Miller referring to other people by the term, “they”, he broadens the number of people whom he feels he must lie to about his negative feelings. This generalization groups his audience together as people who want Miller to pretend that he doing well. Miller continues his chorus by adding on,

No, they don’t like it when I’m down

Again, as Miller refers to his audience by the general term “they”, he alludes to his idea that he feels he cannot show his true self to the public. He could also be referring to his agency or managers who want Miller to portray a positive outlook on life rather than represent his personal struggles. He reflects that celebrities must act as though their life is amazing in order for the public to deem them acceptable. Finally, Miller concludes his chorus by stating,

But when I’m flyin’, oh

It make ’em so uncomfortable

So different, what’s the difference?

By Miller beginning this line with the word “but” he makes it clear that regardless of what he does, he can never seem to make the others happy. By Miller not explicitly stating the times when he his “flyin'”, it leaves the reader to decide if he is most popular when he is his true self, or when he puts up a positive front. However, when he adds “so different”, he seems to be referring to himself as different, which ultimately will not make people happy. Miller seems to be stating that although he is not like a stereotypical celebrity, there are no true reason why he is any different than them. By concluding his chorus by questioning the true effects of his individuality it leaves the audience thinking about their place in the world and also why being viewed as different has become a negative association.

Miller was a very talented artist and his poetic song, “Good News” is only one of many memorable songs. Regardless of how many times the song has been listened to, there is always a new aspect or notable line to dissect. Miller’s melancholic tone throughout his song reminds his listeners, whether they want to recognize it or not, Miller deeply struggled with his mental health and desperately needed a break, all of which happened too soon.

Achieving the Impossible: Is “Gypsy” Art and Pop?

ARTPOP is certainly Lady Gaga’s magnum opus. She embraces her place in the music industry while also challenging her audience to delve deeper than they ever have. Unlike her previous, simple crowd-pleasers such as “Just Dance,” Gaga attempts the seemingly impossible: creating real art that also appeals to the masses. In other words, the title of the album says it all. This record is a proper fusion of the worlds that Mother Monster lives between at all times: ARP and POP (with art first).

“Gypsy,” one of the final tracks on the album, is a perfect example of her artistic expression. Beneath the synthesizers and thumping bass, there are piano melodies, poetic lyrics, and, most importantly, true meaning.

The lyrics feature a conversation between a man and a woman. At the start of the song, the man states that he must leave the woman in order to travel the world:

Sometimes I think that we could just be friends
'Cause I'm a wandering man, he said to me

He then questions their relationship asking:

Does this thing we have even make sense?
When I got the whole world in front of me

From the beginning, Gaga establishes one of her extended metaphors. She is the woman, and the man represents her career. His eagerness to leave and experience the world is similar to the pressure Gaga feels to travel on tour and perform show after show. In an effort to cope with the loneliness of traveling the world and leaving one’s family and friend’s behind, the woman exclaims:

I don't wanna be alone forever
But I can be tonight
I don't wanna be alone forever
But I love gypsy life

Likewise, Gaga tells herself these same words because she knows she loves performing all over the world despite the sacrifices she has to make such as missing her family and friends. 

Gaga continues her poetry with simile. Having embraced the journey, the woman remarks:

Like Dorothy on a yellow brick
Hope my ruby shoes get us there quick
'Cause I left everyone I love at home

Here, she is clearly referencing the Wizard of Oz. When she compares herself to Dorothy, she illustrates the beauty and terror that accompany her adventure. Although Dorothy faces evil (The Wicked Witch of the West), she also finds friends and a happy ending. Similarly, there are dark parts to Gaga’s story (loneliness), but there are also great rewards: she gets to live her dream.

At the heart of the song is Gaga’s biggest metaphor. She is a gypsy. Thus, this is the title of her song/poem. More correctly referred to as Romani, gypsies are people who more from place to place. Although there is already plenty of meaning behind this metaphor, Gaga takes it further than just an explanation of her lifestyle. She finds beauty within this comparison to make a real statement: this song is a love letter to her fans. Although she moves from city to city, she finds a new home with her fans everyday. Gaga accepts that she is a gypsy, but she concludes that gypsies don’t have to be lonely:

Thought that I would be alone forever
But I won't be tonight
I'm a man without a home
But I think with you I can spend my life

By the end, Gaga finds happiness. As a superstar, she is like a gypsy. Even though she feels lonely sometimes on tour, she remembers that she will always have her fans. She ends the song listing dozens of countries before she finally sings:

Be my home just for the day
I'm a gypsy, gypsy, gypsy hey

“this is me trying” to Get an A from Mr. Heidkamp

Taylor Swift entered a new era with her first Indie/Alternative album Folklore, released in July 2020, just eleven months after her hit pop album Lover. Up until the release of her newest album Evermore, Folklore was arguably Swift’s most lyrical album. Folklore’s 9th track “this is me trying” exemplifies this well through Swift’s masterful language and story telling abilities.

“this is me trying” utilizes a variety of literary techniques including metaphor, double entendre, hyperbole, anecdote, and repetition in order to embody a feeling of helplessness and struggle. However, it also has an underlying uplifting message: despite the struggles the speaker has undergone, he/she continues to try.

While it is unclear who the speaker of “this is me trying” is, it is clear that the song embodies the feeling of trying as hard as possible and yet still appearing to fail. The song opens with the metaphorical lines, “I’ve been having a hard time adjusting/I had the shiniest wheels now they’re rusting,” indicating that the speaker is someone who is not only going through an adjustment period, but also has fallen a long way from who they used to be. The speaker again references his/her past glory with the double entendre 2nd stanza line “So I got wasted like all my potential,” and the 2nd stanza hyperbole, “I was so ahead of the curve, the curve became a sphere.” Thus, Swift paints a picture of a speaker who, in the past, had been a successful high achiever, but after a shift in his/her life, falls from the pedestal he/she had once been on.

Then, “this is me trying” continues on, referencing an audience that the speaker refers to exclusively as “you” throughout the song. The audience is first referenced as the speaker explores the imagery of pulling his/her car off to the side of the road and contemplating following his/her “fears all the way down,” indicating that the speaker was considering suicide. However, the speaker then states, “And maybe I don’t quite know what to say/But I’m here in your doorway.” Thus, the audience is someone the speaker turns to in a dark period in his/her life. The audience is referenced again in the 3rd stanza as the speaker utilizes metaphorical language, “All I want is you/You’re a flashback in a film reel/On the one screen in my town.” This further develops the audience as someone who is no longer in the speaker’s life, though the speaker cannot stop remembering him/her. The words, “one screen” indicate that the speaker is forced to watch the audience as there is nothing else to watch on the only one screen in the town that is the speaker’s mind. The word “flashback” furthers this but also adds that the audience disrupts the speaker’s life, despite being gone, as flashbacks are sudden and disruptive to a person. Finally, the image of a film reel gives the indication that the speaker is trapped in the spherical film reel, his/her thoughts of the audience repeating over and over again. This also parallels Swift’s earlier line, “The curve became a sphere.” Therefore, the speaker may feel trapped and helpless to the audience, just as he/she did to the achievement curve of academia.

Given the extended metaphor of the audience being a flashback the speaker is forced to watch, it is also possible that the first stanza is a flashback, rather than an actual event in the song.

The 2nd stanza is primarily anecdotal, telling readers about the speaker’s past life. It tells readers more about the audience as we learn that the speaker was told the reason for his/her failures was entirely mental, that the speaker struggles with anger and feels regret for his/her anger, and that the speaker previously turned to alcohol to cope with issues in his/her life. The 2nd stanza includes 2 double entendres that further emphasize the speaker’s alcoholism. The first, “So I got wasted like all my potential” is likely a play on the phrase, “you’re wasting your potential.” Therefore indicating that the speaker turned to alcoholism after “falling behind the curve.” The second, “Pouring my heart out to a stranger/But I didn’t pour the whiskey” is a little different. This double entendre is the speaker telling the audience that though he/she is upset, he/she didn’t succumb to alcohol, talking to a stranger instead. This furthers the speaker and the audience’s relationship as the audience is clearly aware of the speaker’s alcoholism and might have attempted to help. The 2nd stanza is also the only one that doesn’t directly mention the audience, mentioning a stranger instead. It is possible that the 2nd stanza is a flashback, like the first, and the stranger is the audience before the speaker met him/her. Thus, the 3rd stanza is the only one that occurs in real time.

To summarize a bit, the 1st stanza is the speaker turning to the audience to cope with suicidal ideation, the 2nd stanza is how the speaker and the audience met, the audience helping the speaker through his/her past that influenced his/her alcoholism. The 3rd stanza is the only stanza that is not a flashback. It references the damage done to the speaker by the audience leaving.

Now, the chorus of the song is what changes tone. While all this is happening, the chorus sings,

I just wanted you to know
That this is me trying
I just wanted you to know
That this is me trying

At least I'm trying

The line, “At least I’m trying” occurs first after the speaker doesn’t pour the whiskey and then repeats again after the speaker reminisces about the audience. Not pouring the whiskey felt, to the speaker, like a small victory. Thus, the speaker begins to take pride in trying.

After overcoming suicidal ideation and alcoholism, the speaker reassures him/herself that he/she will overcome his/her longing for the audience as well. Thus, the song ends on an optimistic note, that even though trying is sometimes all one can do, trying is something anyone can do.

Therefore, Swift utilizes figurative language and story-telling to both deepen the experiences of readers as well as expand them. Readers begin to understand, on a more three-dimensional level, the feeling that trying is all someone can do. But, readers also delve into new experiences as Swift creates two characters and tells a story between them that brings readers into a new reality.

Living Loud: Childhood Social Standards in “Wait For the Moment” by Vulfpeck

“Wait For the Moment” is a short funk/soul song from Vulfpeck album, My First Car. The poem follows the thoughts of the speaker, a young boy from a suburban neighborhood, as he is called in for bed while other children continue playing outside. Overall, the poem illustrates the superficiality of social circles, how the speaker’s understanding of that superficiality conflicts with his human desire for connection and attention, and an overall message about living life more meaningfully by honing in on what matters most.

Mom said, 'Wait for the moment!'
Gone home, went to bed
While the other kids, they're still outside
I don't feel time when I sleep
So I snuggle up with my sheet
And wait, for a brighter day

These first verses of the song communicate the speaker’s situation in it’s most basic form: he is called in for bed while other kids are playing outside at dusk. The title phrase of the song,”Wait for the moment!”, is a piece of maternal wisdom: that the speaker should wait until a better opportunity to play comes along with people he truly enjoys and to not engage in superficial relationships. The hopeful tone of the speaker, conveyed by “snuggle” and “brighter day”, suggests that the speaker is perfectly okay with going inside to bed.

I'll play football tomorrow
With only my best friends
People I like, but I don't love, are not allowed

The speaker details his hope for the mentioned, “brighter day”, that he will play sports tomorrow with his closest friends. His specification that he will only play with people he loves and not just whom he likes further illustrates the speaker’s rejection of superficial friendships, and how he would rather spend time building deeper relationships instead. He must, “Wait for the moment!”, so he can prioritize those relationships.

I wonder if Sharon will see me
But I'll play cool
'Cause cool is what you have to do

In this verse, the speaker introduces us to the first paradox of his rejection of superficiality and his human desire for attention. The speaker has a crush on a girl named Sharon, likely a friend from the same neighborhood. He hopes Sharon will see him playing football, but he knows that he has to play cool around her to fit societal standards. Thus, the poem illustrates the ironic contradiction of rejecting superficial relationships but hoping to capture a romantic interest through superficial attitudes. In particular, the improper use of an adjective in the line, ” ‘Cause cool is what you have to do”, emphasizes the young age of the speaker, thereby conveying how an understanding of societal expectations and superficiality is internalized in early childhood.

It's hard to make a point
When you're living so loud
Turn it down

The speaker fully articulates his frustration with the superficiality of his interaction with Sharon. The phrase, “make a point”, evokes the idea of presenting something meaningful, or giving meaning to ones life. The phrase, “living so loud”, conveys the creating too much superfluous noise that can hide what’s really important. Therefore, the verse is implying through metaphor that it is difficult to create meaning in one’s life when you are caught up with the superficial, which reflects the speaker’s disdain for the cool facade he is expected to put on for Sharon. The last line gives a metaphorical instruction: to “turn down” the noise and make your life and relationships more meaningful by getting rid of the superficial and superfluous.

All in all, these ideas tie into the poem’s message: to try to live a more meaningful by not wasting energy on the superficial expectations and friendships and instead waiting for the moment where you can focus on and appreciate the things and the people that matter most.

In Flight: “Cranes In The Sky”

“Cranes In The Sky” is one of the incredible songs featured in A Seat At The Table, an album written by Solange Knowles. The song is about recovering from life and trying to acknowledge your inner feelings and emotions. One verse from the song is,

I tried to let go of my lover
Thought if I was alone then maybe I could recover
To write it away or cry it away
Don’t you cry baby
Away

The listener knows that this person is trying to recover and move forward from their hardships. The use of the word “away” connects to the song’s title: Cranes in The Sky. Just like birds, Solange is trying to fly away, moving to a new part of her life. Solange wants to let go of her lover, cry, and write everything away. The word choice tells the listener that she wants to be free, released from her past. In the lyric, “Don’t you cry baby” it sounds like Solange is comforting herself. By this word choice, the listener automatically feels comfort and reassurance. Listeners are put into Solange’s head; they can hear how she calms herself down with those words. Then, the verse ends with “away”, reinforcing Solange’s desire to start a new journey.

In the chorus, Solange goes back to the image of birds in flight. The chorus goes,

Well it’s like cranes in the sky
Sometimes I don’t wanna feel those metal clouds
Yeah, it’s like cranes in the sky
Sometimes I don’t wanna feel those metal clouds

In these lyrics, Solange writes about how she doesn’t want to feel metal clouds. By using “metal” to describe clouds, listeners picture the clouds as a heavy weight. The imagery transports you into Solange’s life, and you can understand how weighed-down she feels.

By using a simile to connect two seemingly unrelated things, cranes in the sky and regaining control of your life, Solange makes her listeners truly understand how she is feeling. The vivid imagery and similes in the song make the read understand how Solange is feeling. In “Cranes In Sky”, readers can imagine the feelings and emotions that Solange is experiencing. The song uses figurative language and invokes emotion, turning the music into a poem.