What Do You Follow: Head or Heart?

In his album, The Story of Us, Quinn XCII (92) collaborates with Chelsea Cutler to produce “Flare Guns,” a current favorite of mine. The song is about the one person who you know you shouldn’t call but can’t help but call. I think that the song addresses the struggle between the feelings in your head vs. your heart. When in your head you know you shouldn’t do it, but your heart tells you to go for it. In the end, Quinn XCII follows his heart. The first ten seconds of the song are of instrumental violins, which sets the tone for the rest of the song. In his first verse he sings: 

This love stays calm in the night, yeah, helps me heal and reopen
Why are we drifting away from everything we wanted to save?

These lyrics were very powerful because they talk about the end of his relationship but can also be used in other contexts. In his relationship, they ended because they needed to focus on themselves and be on their own, but they came back together and focused less on what they wanted to maintain. The same could be said about life. Many times people take breaks to focus on themselves or what went wrong before, but life happens and neglects what they wanted to do. This goes back to the idea head vs. heart, knowing what you need to do to better yourself, but follows another path. He follows those lyrics in his pre-chorus with: 

I told you I'd be down forever
Loving you is danger, but it don't feel wrong
It's old news, I should look for better

I love the line “Loving you is danger, but it don’t feel wrong” because of how perfectly it fits into the meaning of the song. There are times in life when we know something is wrong and that we shouldn’t do it but we become so consumed by it and fall into it. He is so invested in his relationship and how he feels, even though he knows he deserves better, and goes for it anyways. His head is telling him it is dangerous but his heart is telling him it is right. He reaches the chorus of the song. 

Flare guns go off in my head, saying not to call you this late
Still I dial those numbers every time
Why do I replay those messages that you left at the tone last May?
Slowly wishing you were never mine

A flare gun is used to create illumination to improve vision or as a distress signal. The use of flare guns was a perfect kind of symbolism to explain the warning signs that go off in your head. Bring to light all the problems that are going to happen and give clarity to the situation. But the heart is a powerful thing and more often than not, especially in his case, the heart wins. He puts himself though so much pain and second guesses by following his heart. His head is thinking logically and his heart is thinking passionately. Quinn XCII and Chelsea Cutler sing together:

See, I don't know better than to give up on loving
Why am I still holding on? I'm still holding on

These lines perfectly fit into Quinn XCII’s situation of head vs. heart. He has given up on love and has accepted that, but there is that part of him that still has hope, that is still holding on. That’s what head vs. heart is really. Knowing what is best and accepting that but still have a little sliver of hope and questioning that hope. Hope is a powerful thing and can make people do things they may not agree with. I picture the concept of head vs. heart like in cartoons when the devil is on one shoulder and the angel on the other and they usually end up following the devil.

Luv(sic)

Nujabes was a producer known for his atmospheric instrumentals with samples from hip hop and jazz. Nujabes would frequently collaborate with artist Shing02 for much of his work, including the Luv(Sic) hexalogy. The entire project is a strong example of poetry in music, but I will be focusing on part 1 of the series.

The hook of “Luv(sic)” is a typical example of how music is poetry,

Cause the beat plus the melody
Makes me speak of L.O.V.E eloquently so evidently

Here, Shing02 is directly saying that through music, he is able to convey his feelings and thoughts in a fluent (eloquent) manner. Poetry, in essence, is an expression of how one feels and thinks. Keeping this in mind, it is irrefutable evidence that poetry and music are closely related. Shing02 also mentions how music has provided him with an outlet to speak his mind,

God bless this opportunity for me to find a voice
For some words that have waited for way too long

This is clearly expressing that music is a way for people to have a voice and speak their mind which is, to all intents and purposes, what poetry is as well. Shing02 is also closely tied with poetry. When speaking about the project, he recounted,

It was a departure from my usual style, but a return to poetry I had written back in high school. In essence, rap is a form of creative writing and storytelling at its best. I was building a character that spoke in idioms and riddles, but also a narrative you can relate to by reading ‘between the rhymes.’

The entirety of the lyrics for “Luv(sic)” were derived from poetry, therefore the song cannot be anything other than poetry. Poetry comes in many forms and music is no exception.

“Dear Today” A Day in the Life for All

“Dear Today” is the eleventh song on Luke Comb’s third studio album, What You See is What You Get. This song, somber and heartbroken at first, changes its tone to encouraging and inspiring through the message Combs conveys through his lyrics. He first debuted this song before it was officially released at a benefit concert in September 2019 to connect with the audience through human mistakes he has made too in his life. Although Combs is new to the music scene is undoubtedly knows how to convey meaning and create poetry with his music.

This song is written from Combs’ point of view; he is writing a letter to his future self. In the form of this song, the letter he wrote himself is to remind himself to fix any mistakes he’s made with those he loves and to live each moment to the fullest.

The song starts with the introduction:

If I know you, hell, you’re too busy
To do damn near anything that you ought to
Guess what I’m sayin’ is, is if you don’t change
Boy, you’ll be kickin’ yourself one of these days

Luke Combs “Dear Today”

Combs is prefacing his letter with his reasoning for writing in these first couple lines from the song. He is telling himself that now that he is famous and gained popularity, he is busy all the time. He is so busy that he doesn’t have the time to do the important things involving his friends and family. Then he proceeds to give himself an ultimatum if he does not change the way he is currently acting in the long run, and in the future, he will regret the decisions he made in the past. Combs confirms this message stating in 2019, “When I started doing this, I got real busy and started putting things off that I needed to do. This song is to remind myself that I need to do the stuff that is important to me, my friends, my family and my life. It’s a letter from tomorrow to today.”

Combs follows this verse up with another important message:

And remember every second I got’s borrowed

Luke Combs “Dear Today”

This line of the song is compelling because it goes out as a reminder to himself and those listening to the music. In this line, he says that time doesn’t belong to him, and it runs out fast, so don’t waste it on the superficial things in life.

“Dear Today” can be argued as poetry because of the theme it purveys through the personification of time and the foreshadowing of his future and the listener’s future if they are in the same position he is in. It can also be argued as poetry because the lyrics in this song bring the listener a new sense and perception of life. They widen the listener’s contact with existence. Chances are many of the people listening to this song can relate in some way or another to what combs is singing about; his words can widen and change the listener’s perception of life and possibly even lead to them changing their actions. Lastly, in a similar fashion, the listener can also gain greater awareness and understanding of their world. The listener of this song was not aware of their detrimental actions before listening to the song, however after listening to the lyrics of “Dear Today,” they can gain awareness of what they are doing and change.

“My Heart is Buried in Venice…” ok Ricky, I’m on my way to get it

(contains mentions of suicide)

I believe that every single song off of Ricky Montgomery’s album Montgomery Ricky is poetic in its own way, but I am going to focus on the song “My Heart is Buried in Venice,” which is a very sad song full of deep and profound emotion. At first glance, this song seems to simply be about a broken heart that needs to be fixed. I believe this is what the song is about, but that there is a deeper and sadder specific story that becomes apparent to me when I analyze it further.

I think this song is about someone who has lost their lover to suicide. This might seem like a stretch, but let me take you through why I think this. First of all, the tone becomes increasingly more desperate as the song goes on, and it seems like he is begging his lover to come back, even though they are definitely gone. At the beginning, he makes it clear that his lover has issues/ past trauma and he wants to help them heal. He is asking them to come back so that he can fix them and stop what really happened from happening. He is in definite denial.

Come rest your bones next to me
And toss all your thoughts to the sea
I’ll pull up each of our anchors
So we can get lost you and me

The 3rd line of this stanza is my favorite in the whole song because it shows very clear imagery of what it feels like to try to pull someone out of the hole they are in while also trying to do the same for yourself. This shows that he was struggling too, and he feels like he didn’t do enough to help them, but he wants to now. It’s clear the person he is talking to has issues and he wants to escape the sadness of reality with them.

In the chorus, which is repeated multiple times, he changes from speaking to this person directly to speaking to no one in particular. He says:

My heart is buried in Venice
Waiting for someone to take it home

This is a major change from the first part of the song, which seemed rather hopeful and loving. Here, he seems alone and is saying he has no one to fix his broken heart, and he is either waiting for his lover to come back or he is just waiting for the help of anyone at all. The chorus of the song shows acceptance of the terrible event rather than denial and hope.

In the middle of the song, he says:

I never thought that I would have to say I’m sorry
For anyone but me

This line tells me that he had to apologize for his lover, and what I picture is him having to apologize to other people because he feels responsible for what they did. This is a very heartbreaking scene that I picture in my mind.

In the next verse is where the tone is very desperate and he is pleading for them to come back to him.

Don’t leave me to breathe

Don’t leave me to bleed

For someone who chose to leave me

This is what solidifies the story for me. When he says “don’t leave me to breathe” this implies that they themselves are not breathing, while he is. And when he says “don’t leave me to bleed” I believe it is his heart that is bleeding because they “chose to leave” him. There is another tone shift here where he switches the blame from himself to his lover and he changes stages of grief from denial into anger that they left him alone.

Finally, he ends with the chorus, showing acceptance for what has happened, rather than ending with a verse full of denial. The song also gets softer and slower at this point, which shows that he has no hope left and he can’t change what happened.

In conclusion, I love Ricky Montgomery very much and this song always makes me cry. Go stream his whole album, it’s not all depressing I promise!

The Broadway Show that Sold like Hot Cakes

August 16th, 2016 the world was introduced to a Broadway show that would sell out show after show. Hamilton. The brilliant, Lin-Manuel Miranda took about seven years to write a musical about Alexander Hamilton. Miranda wanted the play to be different than any other Broadway show,so he decided to make it into a hip-hop musical. People were very skeptical of this type of musical because it was so different, but low and behold tickets sold out faster then you could say Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Hurricane” is the 13th song of the second act. Hamilton is opposed by Aaron Burr, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison. These man are fired up and ready to damage Hamilton’s reputation by exposing his affair, but instead they cover it up by saying he stole government funds. Hamilton is torn between keeping his affair a secret and take the blow of ruining his political reputation, or inform the public of his scandal which would save his reputation but would forever ruin his marriage. He chooses to go public about his scandal because he realizes telling the truth has helped him in the past.

The whole song is Hamilton reflecting on his life, using a metaphor of the calm eye of a hurricane, just like the one that devastated his home as a child.

In the eye of a hurricane
There is quiet
For just a moment
A yellow sky

Hamilton repeats this metaphor a few times throughout the song. He is comparing his like to an eye of a hurricane saying that for just a moment before everything gets destroyed there is a moment of quiet. Right before he decides to make a choice to either ruin his marriage or reputation he has a moment of quiet. He thinks back to his life as a young boy, reliving his experiences. The phrase “A yellow sky” paints a picture in the listeners head of how everything looks in the calm of the storm. Personally I feel like this metaphor is very relatable in the sense that everyone has a calm before their own type of storm.

Later in the song Hamilton repeats the word,

I wrote…

In this stanza “I wrote” is repeated 5 times, resulting in repetition. By repeating those words Hamilton gave examples of how he was able to write his way to a better life and get out of the hurricane. This device allows the listener some insight as to how Hamilton was able to use his writing for good. Writing was his savoir, it gave him a second chance at life. He was able to write himself out of all the bad situations he has been through before so he thinks writing will be able to save him from his affair going public. Personally I think everyone can relate to this part of the song because everyone has their own form of a savoir to help get them out of a bad place.

Hamilton is a rap/hip-hop musical and rap is a form of poetry, so technically speaking Hamilton is one big poem. I feel like everyone always pushes Hamilton away because the thought of listening to Broadway music for fun at home isn’t ideal for most people. But I think every one of you reading this should give one of the 46 songs a chance. All the songs are so though out and have so much meaning behind them. And not only are they very catchy, but they are educational too. A double whammy! I have legit learned history from this musical. Don’t throw away your shot 😉 and give Hamilton a listen.

September Song: Listening to the Lyrics

Many times, people forget that music is rooted in poetry. Most believe poetry to be a depressing, rhyming, boring few lines. However when diving deep into the meaning of poetry, we see that it is all around us, and can be enjoyed. In “Perrine’s Sound & Sense: An Introduction to Poetry”, Arp & Johnson explain what poetry is and how good readers should read poetry. Saying that poetry exists “…to bring us a sense and a perception of life, to widen and sharpen our contacts with existence”(2-3). Poetry is not created to tell us a story, but to draw us inside the story and experience it by activating your emotions, intelligence, senses and imagination.

So… How does JP Cooper create poetry in his 2017 song: “September Song”?

“September Song” is a poem with a beat tracked in the background. The poem is about his experience as a 15 year old boy falling in love with a girl. And how he remembered the experience of losing her, giving him nostalgia and regret. Listening to the lyrics, the audience can tell that this was a summer relationship that ended once school begin in the fall.

You were my September Song summer lasted too long
Time moves so slowly when you’re only fifteen
You were my September Song, tell me where have you gone?

He still loved her through fall even though they were no longer together. The “Song” is a symbol for all of the emotions he felt for the girl when they we together, but the meaning changes as the song continues to become his longing and nostalgia for their happy relationship when they were younger. The use of repetition also creates the passionate emotional struggle for the reader to experience as the boy did in this love story. JP Cooper, through his use of symbolism, repetition, and other literary devices creates and experience for the audience to think about, feel, sense and imagine, making it a poetic song.

There’s a Lifetime Right in Front of You

Don’t Lie” is a song by the indie rock band Vampire Weekend in their third album “Modern Vampires of the City”, released in 2013. Over the years, I have heard many different interpretations of the song and arguments about its meaning. The most prevalent meaning that I hear in this song is all about life and how we use it. The song reflects upon how certain people do not appreciate their life as much as they should and that they should be more conscious of the time they have left. The chorus of this song says:

I want to know, does it bother you?
The low click of a ticking clock
There’s a lifetime right in front of you
And everyone I know

This clearly states that life is clock, ticking on and on no matter what happens, and if it bothers those that the song is for. Are they wasting their life away or taking advantage of the “lifetime right in front of them” ? This song questions and implies that people do not understand how rare life truly is and how important it is to take advantage of it. Another verse repeated throughout the song is:

God’s love die young,
are you ready to go?

The band alludes to a more religious aspect saying that life can end at anytime and if yours did right now, would you be satisfied? Would you have lived your life the way you wanted to? The repetition of this line before the chorus gives a small reminder as to the fragility of life. They want to emphasize this meaning through repetition. Also, they use the word “you” to speak directly to the listener and create a more personal connection to their audience.

Young hips shouldn’t break on the ice

The inclusion of this line seems to refer to their younger audience. It seems like they are calling out their audience saying, you are still young enough to do whatever you want, so go do it! Live life while you can because there are people who are too old or sick to do so. Hence the reference to “young/old hips”. This line gives direct reasons as to why life is precious and why it is worth living.

This song contains a strong message that any listener can relate to. Vampire Weekend provides a song full of contemplation to get people looking at how they can live their best life. Whether this is the true meaning or not, it is a lyrically advanced and poetic song.

Not Such a Friendly Friend

Famous for being the lead vocalist and guitar player in the 90s grunge band Nirvana, Kurt Cobain is a musical legend. From Nevermind to In Utero, Nirvana was without a doubt busy releasing amazing music throughout the decade. From Nirvana’s album Nevermind, however, one song, “Polly“, stands out to me specifically.

The song is written from the point of view of Gerald Friend, the rapist of a 14 year old girl from an abduction that occured in Tacoma in 1987. The girl’s name, Polly, was released along with details of the crime, including the fact that she was whipped, cut with a razor, and blowtorched. The way the song is written allows us to be inside of Freind’s head, sharing with us his thoughts about the girl and the crime. While many other of Cobain’s lyrics can be seen as extremely personal to him, this is blatantly written from the point of view of someone else.

Cobain begins with the line “Polly wants a cracker”, a common saying used when people try and get birds to talk or do something. The girl in the song, referred to as Polly, is being starved and raped by Friend so asking her if she “wants a cracker?” is an extremely eerie allusion to the starvation and coercion that she is being put through. Cobain proceeds to sing “I guess I should get off her first”, showing that she is being actively raped as Friend has these thoughts. He continues with “I think she wants some water / to put out the blow torch”, referring to the aforementioned blowtorch used in the girl’s torture.

Perrine defined poetry as the communication of experiences that we haven’t had ourselves, which is clearly what this song does for us. Putting the listener into the mind of the rapist, specifically in the chorus of the song, while Freind talks to both himself and the girl, is extremely disturbing, yet allows for the listener to create new experiences in their head based around the details that Cobain uses.

The chorus of the song is perturbing, with multidimensionality oozing from every word performed by Cobain. Starting with the lines “Isn’t me, have a seed / Let me clip, dirty wings” , they each could be considered to have double meanings. By “having a seed”, Cobain describes the small amount of food being given to the starving girl but this can also be a reference to the “seeds” that Friend is planting in her physicially (semen) by raping her. He follows by singing “let me take a ride, cut yourself / want some help, please myself” , directly reflecting Friend being on top of and torturing the girl while she cries out for help.

Cobain’s use of extremely disturbing multidimensional language to put the listener in the mind of a child rapist is not something that one may consider sterotypically “poetic”, however, in the words of Perrine, poetry is sometimes meant to be ugly. The lyrics in this song intending to bring the listener out of their comfort zone with detailed descriptions of rape, starvation, dehumanization, and torture relay new experiences to (at least I would assume) most people listening to it.

Just Listen

The Doobie Brothers was a rock band formed in 1970 in San Jose California. Their most widely known song “Listen to the Music” was released in 1972 on their beloved album Toulouse Street. It’s peak position on the billboard hot 100 was 11 and for some odd reason reaches number 3 on the Canada billboard. The song was written by Tim Johnston in 1971 and was a true hit. The song is about finding happiness and coming together through the art of music. Not only is this song a true piece of art but it is also true poetry.

Don't you feel it growing, day by day

When the song came out in 1972 the Vietnam War was in full swing and the Cold War was boiling. There was so much conflict going on in the world and the hippie band known as The Doobie Brothers had a perfect remedy to bring everyone together. The first Lyric “Don’t you feel it growing, day by day” talks about the rising tensions in the world simmering into a full boil with all that is going on. But the songs happy vibe produces a sort of utopian alternate reality where life’s problems are truly solved by music. The happy upbeat rhythm in the background creates imagery of a California like beach and people dancing through the music.

Gotta get a message, get on through.

This lyric is about the song itself getting through to the masses of people. It is said that the best way to get a message out to lots of people is through a popular song so that’s what the band is trying to do. The song has a clear message about how they want to solve all of the violence and hate in the world and in itself says what their plan is. We learn of the happy motives of the band and in itself The Doobie Brothers, you can imagine how peaceful they are.

Oh, oh, oh listen to the music
Oh, oh, oh listen to the music

That lyric is the chorus of the song and is said multiple times to get the point across. The Doobie brothers use refrain here to show the listeners their solution to the hate going around during the time. They also us repetition multiple times with this lyric to again, get the point across. The band does realize that this song us more of a utopian society as not everyone likes music that much and music won’t stop violence as that is just an outrageous thought. But in their minds and in their imagination if everyone would just stop and appreciate something together then maybe we would be more united.

Dreams of Independence

Fleetwood Mac was a band formed in the late 1960’s. The band’s hit “Dreams” was released on their 1977 album Rumours. Although that was almost 45 years ago, the song remains a classic and is making a comeback with another generation. It is the perfect song to belt, but when you really listen to the lyrics, you hear the story Stevie Nicks, Fleetwood’s lead singer, tells while singing. The song sold over a million copies and reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Was it a success? You could say so, but it is also a poetic work of art telling the story of a failed romance.

The speaker of “Dreams” is Stevie Nicks, a woman going through a breakup, but she is also speaking for other members of the band. Two members were going through a divorce and one separating from his wife at the time, so she feels their loss and pain. Nicks begins with “Now here you go again, you say you want your freedom / Well, who am I to keep you down?” By saying “you,” we know she must be talking to someone, that person being her ex-boyfriend Lindsey Buckingham, lead guitarist of Fleetwood Mac. She wrote the song very soon after their break up, and writes about it to gain perspective and release her emotions. Through poetic language, Nicks’ demonstrates that although loss is hard, realizing what’s truly best for you is what matters most.

“Dreams” has a hopeful tone, because Nicks is hopeful she’ll benefit from her breakup. In verse 2, Nicks sings “Now here I go again, I see the crystal visions / I keep my visions to myself.” The crystal visions symbolize coming to a realization, like one might when looking into a crystal ball. Nicks’ realization refers to her relationship with Buckingham, because it was not satisfying her anymore, and she realized it’s best to end it. By saying she is going to keep her visions to herself, Nicks means she doesn’t feel the need to explain herself for wanting something different. She has a positive attitude towards their ending, and is hopeful she’ll come out of it even stronger. Although the song is telling the story of a failed romance, it is upbeat and powerful, not sad.

She sings “Like a heartbeat drives you mad / In the stillness of remembering what you had / And what you lost / And what you had / And what you lost.” Nicks sings “And what you lost” twice to illustrate that although she respects his freedom, he will realize losing her isn’t going to be easy. She says the phrase once to let him know she’s not coming back and says it again to demonstrate that feeling isn’t going to go away. The repetition elaborates on her stepping into a new chapter since it shows Nicks knows her worth. Instead of asking her ex to work things out, she’s accepted moving on is the best thing for her, and if he’s going to let her go he isn’t getting her back.

The chorus of “Dreams” goes, “Thunder only happens when it’s raining / Players only love you when they’re playing.” She creates a metaphor to compare thunder to their break up and rain to their problems. She illustrates the break up, thunder, only happened because of the problems, rain, she couldn’t escape from. The comparison makes it clear they both knew the break up was coming, because it had already been “raining.” The next line is a metaphor comparing Buckingham to a player. She claims he is a player, and although she never talks about him cheating, the listener understands he wasn’t the right man for her. Talking about players broadens the meaning of the song since the listener realizes the severity in their break up. It also leaves the listener wanting to know exactly why they broke up.

Lastly, Nicks includes multidimensional language. She sings, “When the rain washes you clean, you’ll know.” The word “rain” doesn’t have it’s usual meaning of rain from the sky, but instead the “rain” is feeling resentment, because he messed up.”Rain” could also be the feeling of getting over Nicks, and he’ll know this because she has hope he’ll grow as a person. Either way, Nicks believes Buckingham will regret losing her.

Stevie Nicks’ poetic language in “Dreams” can be heard as a grieving heart, and although it’s clear she is sad her and Lindsey Buckingham broke up, the song’s upbeat melody and powerful lyrics illustrate her newfound independence and hope for the future. She knows her worth and has faith her ex-lover will soon realize his loss.

A Cruel Angel’s Thesis

Yoko Takahashi’s, “A Cruel Angel’s Thesis” is one of the most well known songs in Japan and is the theme song of the popular 1995 television series called “Neon Genesis Evangelion”. Evangelion is about a 14 year old boy named Shinji Ikari who is recruited by his father to pilot a giant robot in order to combat the violent angels that are trying to take out humanity. This whole song is about the main character, Shinji and his issues with his self-worth. The creator of this series, Hideaki Anno, commissioned the artist so that the theme song could fit the philosophical themes of Evangelion.

Young boy, like a cruel angel,
Live up to be a legend…

One of the most interesting parts of this song is the way it uses oxymorons. It describes angels as “cruel” even though they are perceived as higher beings that exercise knowledge and love in our society today. This description of the angels shows how the people in the show think about the angels, because they constantly destroy and kill. The legend part refers to the battle that Shinji is fighting against the angels, if he defeats them, he will become a legend, and throughout this show, he enjoys this praise since he has abandonment issues.

Too involved in yearning for
Something to hold on
The innocent eyes still know nothing of fate yet.

This part talks about the innocence Shinji still has, foreshadowing the misery that it is fated to come later on in the show and in his life.

A cruel angel’s thesis
Will someday fly high from the window
If memories are betrayed by
The overflowing, burning pathos (emotions).
Holding the sky in your arms,
Young boy, shine like a legend.

This is the chorus of the song, and it serves as a way to encourage Shinji that even in the darkest times of his life, he is destined for greatness. No matter how miserable your memories may be of your past, you still have a chance to prove yourself to others as worthy. The word “Legend” is also repeated again in a maternal like tone, reassuring that although Shinji feels unworthy, he is still worthy of praise and will become known as a hero.

If there is any meaning
In the fate that pulled us together,
Then I am, yes, the Bible
That teaches you of freedom.

Here fate is mentioned once again, and is mentioned with religious references. Shinji is shown to be in the lowest part of his life mentally during the time in which he is recruited to pilot and figth against the angels. However, there is something that keeps him strong when he is at his lowest, and that being his mother. Fate brought him there and his mother will always be there in his mind in order to guide him to be free of the mental challenges he faces and his issues with self worth. No matter what and no matter how terrible he feels, he is encouraged by this maternal voice that will guide him to self-love.

This show is truly great and deals with Freudianism and reminds me a lot of The Stranger and the topics we have discussed in the past weeks. I wish I could re-watch this amazing show again for the first time.

Sleep On The Floor: Remembering That Feeling

In The Lumineers’ second most recent album, Cleopatra (2016), the first song listed is one of my favorites: “Sleep On The Floor“. Most consider this the Lumineers’ the best album, and it is also the most popular through the years, according to Spotify. The Lumineers is a folk-rock band, popular among indie music listeners and pop music listeners alike. This song is also part of a short film, “The Ballad of Cleopatra”, which includes multiple music videos from the album and tells the story of a man and his lover moving in search of adventure and a new life.

The song begins with the now-famous lyrics,

Pack yourself a toothbrush dear
Pack yourself a favorite blouse

These lines introduce both the song and the album perfectly. While the album, in general, focuses on adventure in a more metaphorical sense, like the adventures of love, heartbreak, and travel, “Sleep On The Floor” is a literal representation of a young couple who decides to escape their small town and chase their dreams before it is too late. The toothbrush mentioned is a symbol of uncertainty and travel, as toothbrushes are quintessential parts of packing. The narrator of the song admits there will be hardship, that there will be the problem of money and the strings left behind from their old lives, but he uses these in his argument to his girlfriend/lover that it is even more of an experience. This song also draws on the theme many youth encounter of wanderlust, but more so the feeling that there is life outside of their town, and that they have to go find it immediately or they will end up like their parents.

The song’s narrator builds depth by including religious allegories twice within the song.

Forget what Father Brennan said
We were not born in sin

Jesus Christ can’t save me tonight

The singer/poet grapples with religious themes that he either grew up hearing about or were forced on him from childhood. The words “not born in sin” refers to the original sin committed by Adam and Eve, and “Jesus Christ can’t save me” continues this allusion. Both lines, rather than embracing religion, depict the narrator as rejecting religion in his hope to reject his whole life. Religion perhaps ties him to the town he wants to escape, and in his mind casting away the constraints of Christianity is a necessary element of his journey to freedom.

This song also includes many metaphors, the most interesting of which is inspired by big cities:

If the sun don’t shine on me today
And if the subways flood and bridges break

The narrator uses city disasters to explain the crushing hopelessness of his feeling living in his town, and he would rather face uncertainty in a world beyond his comfort zone. This song was also inspired, according to the Lumineers, by young people moving to cities in search of their dreams or the American Dream. The use of subways flooding and bridges breaking within the lyrics implies the possibility that the city will not support them, that their dreams will be broken. Despite this, he urges his lover to take that chance with him. Additionally, the lyrics state,

And when we looked outside, couldn’t even see the sky

This is a figure of speech or more accurately a reference to one. This is a changed version of the saying, “the sky’s the limit”. Since the sky was not even visible, the singer means that there are limitless possibilities for their new life. It creates a contradiction with this popular line, since he argues even the sky will not limit them, and they would be completely free.

This song is the perfect beginning to the album and story of Cleopatra, beginning with a strong opening note and a nostalgic tone, recreating for older listeners a long-forgotten feeling of youthful uncertainty, and for younger listeners a voiced explanation of their desires for escape.

Higher Ground

I have been listening to Stevie Wonder since I was three years old, and it has touched my soul in a way no other music has. This is the type of music that forces you to get up and dance, tugs at all of your emotions, and causes you to experience the full song in four dimesions. One of Wonder’s songs, “Higher Ground,” is especially poetic. In this song, he captures different points of view from around the world in under four minutes. Wonder begins his song by stating,

People keep on learnin’
Soldiers keep on warnin’
World keep on turnin’
‘Cause it won’t be too long”

Stevie Wonder places his readers in the minds of contrasting groups by broadening our experience of the literature. He condenses words to create a meaningful whole of under five words per subject to highlight the aspects of each category that add to his theme that the world is out of our control; although people try to create a sense of power, nature is stronger than women and men. Wonder continues this pattern for another stanza:

Powers keep on lyin’, yeah
While your people keep on dyin’
World keep on turnin’
‘Cause it won’t be too long

A good poem does not state word for word what the poet is explaining, rather, the poet condenses what the speaker has experienced. By doing this, the lines become stronger and richer than facts or simple literature. This is exactly what Stevie Wonder nails in this song: he shares the reality of the world with his readers through a few powerful lines.

Wonder then goes on to explain how important it is for him to be the best person he can be. He states,

I’m so darn glad He let me try it again
‘Cause my last time on earth, I lived a whole world of sin
I’m so glad that I know more than I knew then
Gonna keep on tryin’
‘Til I reach my highest ground, whoo

Wonder shifts to speak from his perspective, condensing his words to share his point of view of the importance of growing to be a good person. This allows the reader to experience Wonder’s “higher ground” message, inspiring the reader to be the best person they can be.

Later in the song, Stevie Wonder uses the literary device of repetition to state “higher” thirteen times. By doing this, he further gets his message across. This is truly poetic, as Wonder does not blatantly state his theme, he solely needs one word to do this.

At the end of the song, Wonder offers his listeners advice, so that they can fully experience his message of growth and live it in the real world:

Don’t you let nobody take you to a low level
Just keep on and keep on until you reach higher ground
Don’t you let nobody take you to some low, low level
Just keep on and keep on until you reach higher ground

Wonder uses a few, simple words to inspire the reader, thus broadening his message and engraining it into the listener’s mind. This is a true poem. Not only does Wonder create a moving experience for his fans through lyrics, but the sound of his music draws the reader in further, and you can feel it in all four-dimensions.

Heart 4 Sale

The song I am writing about is “Heart 4 Sale” by Rod Wave. This song is one of 12 on his third studio album, Hunger Games 3. This 3rd album established Rod Wave as one of the top up and coming artist from Florida. However, his national popularity didn’t come about until he performed his hit single “Heart On Ice” on a genius live youtube performance which went viral for his natural singing abilities and profound lyrical writing.

“Heart 4 Sale” is an examination of his emotions and history of emotional abuse that he has endured throughout his journey of finding the right person. This song speaks to his feelings of inadequacy and lack of control over his thoughts as he writes to the “future owner” of his heart. This song’s central theme is the human limit of heartbreak, and by putting his heart for sale in the song he explains his limit and the unbearable emotions that heartbreak brought him.

Rod Wave’s repeated use of personification, metaphors, and hyperbole to explain his feelings is genius as it allows the reader to comprehend and relate to such a complex issue that can’t be explained or felt fully otherwise. This song, through its use of literary techniques, is a piece of art. If you have been heartbroken anytime in your life, you can feel and understand what these otherwise absurd lines mean and the weight they hold. Rod Wave through lines 4-10 for example, implores personification, metaphors, and hyperbole in his effort to express his emotions in a unique way that allows the listener to connect deeply.

I have this heart, but I can't control it
It loves what it loves, it does what it wanna
Tried to lock it up, but it jumped back on my shoulder
Don't get me wrong, it's a good heart and it's golden
But it's been stolen, on top of that, it's been broken
Drug through the mud, it's driving me insane
Tryna spread love, pickin' fights with my brain

Rod Wave has a unique ability with his voice to give his lyrics meaning past what is just written on the page. While Rod may use assonance in lines 11 and 12 when he says, “Don’t want it literally, so over it mentally, So tired physically, it distracts and hinders me.” The thing that makes the lyrics meaningful is his voice, not just what is being sung. 99% of other artists can sing these same lyrics but they will just tell an ordinary story of frustration and exhaustion. When Rod Wave sings it, you feel the true meaning. You can feel the helplessness, the agony, and the desperation. Rod Wave is from St.Petersburg, Florida, and grew up in projects, so these feelings are authentic and personal. These real-life experiences are how he makes soul touching music that cannot be replicated or faked. This song is a story of heartbreak and a failed attempt to move on.

Rod Wave is a unique talent that can bring the emotions you’ve long forgotten or the feelings your battling now to light and allow you to feel understood and re-attached to reality. When listening to Rod Wave, I would be careful because his authentic writing and voice can make life seem so intense and serious, but if you listen to understand, his voice serves as a beacon of hope and preaches a message of universal acceptance. If you wish to listen to some happier and naturally uplifting songs, I would suggest Letter From Houston, Rags2Riches, and Praying Grandmothers. If you are in the mood to hear the struggle and feel understood, I would recommend Dark CloudsHeart On Ice, and Popular Loner. I think the latter is his best work, but because he is so incredibly talented, he can uniquely tell a story in either mood.