Once Upon a Time

John Cage is perhaps most famous in popular culture as the poster child of the avant-garde music movement, with his piece 4’33” — which consists of 4 minutes and 33 seconds of silence — reaching particular notoriety. While his style of challenging common notions of aesthetics is a fun novelty for most listeners, Cage put a lot of thought and work into building a considerable repertoire of cutting edge musical ideas. After earning his chops as a traditional composer early in his career, he shifted his focus to the avant-garde, including pioneering the concept of Aleatoric Music, or music with some sort of chance-based component. Aleatoric music has quickly grown in popularity and deployment since Cage’s time, particularly in video game and film music.

One of the pieces Cage composed pretty early in his career, Living Room Music, exemplifies his transition from more common styles of performance to avant-garde ideas. The piece consists of four movements, though the third is optional. The first, third, and fourth movements all have players selects items that might be found in a typical living room (cups, tables, papers; the particular items are at the players’ discretion) and use them to create a certain rhythmic pattern. The third movement also pairs this rhythm making with a melody to be performed on a suitable pitch inducing instrument.

The second movement, however, stands out. Unlike the other movements, this one can be performed without any auxiliary items. That’s because it consists of four individuals repeating a certain set of words with a particular rhythmic pattern and occasionally pitch bend. The words are a deconstruction, reordering, and layering of the first few lines of a lesser known Gertrude Stein children’s book called The World Is Round. The way cage deconstructs and re-arranges the words has much intrigue and meaning, and even begs the question about how lyrics that are part rhythmic and part message based and spread across multiple parts should be conveyed in non-musical writing, but alas this is after all an assignment for which I will be graded and looking at those things entails a tangent this post can not afford. So for the purposes of this post, I will analyze the base set of lines Cage uses to construct the work, as he conveniently includes them at the beginning of they score for the movement (linked above):

Once upon a time the world

was round and you could go on

it around and around.

So, what is this excerpt about? Some hint could come from the content of Stein’s book itself; through the book’s main character, Rose, it highlights the importance of asking questions and feeling a connection to the world. But it’s notable that Cage choses only to focus on this opening sentence from the book when he had ample musical “space” to include additional lyrics. What’s also telling is this particular movement’s title: “Story.” Much in the same way that the other movements of Living Room Music invert traditional conceptions of music by embracing the every day rhythms one might make with objects in their living room, “Story” takes the idea of a story at it’s very core, at it’s simplest form, and transmutes it into something that is halfway between narrative and song. Cage’s purpose, then, is to convey the non-story story — the archetypal stand in that captures infinite possibility because it embodies the very concept of a story.

A further examination of the phrasing in the excerpt Cage uses makes this point patently clear. Starting at the very beginning, the lyric opens with the phrase “Once upon a time.” On the one hand, this clause is serving a literal purpose — by placing the sentence in the past tense it set’s up a narrative trope of “retelling” that fits more naturally with the archetypal narrative of a story (as opposed to stories which are told in present tense, and therefore feel more like they are unfolding live than being retold). At the same time, “Once upon a time” holds an important place in popular culture as the classic opening to many children’s tales, so parroting this language here not only sets a tone of retelling but also places that tone specifically in the childhood story milieu. Finally, because the phrase does not specify a particular time beyond the ambiguous “once,” the sentence takes on a sense of timelessness (in the very same way the aforementioned children’s tales often seem timeless), allowing it to further invoke the archetypal concept of a story.

The next line is also notable in creating the sense of an archetypal story, but in a more innovative way. The use of the 2nd person in storytelling and especially children’s books is quite rare with perhaps If You Give a Mouse a Cookie being the only notable example. Yet here the use of the word “you” in “you could go on it” does not stand out as odd. This is because the “you” portrays a sort of “place holder” or “filler function” — it serves a similar purpose meaning-wise in the sentence as “one could go on it.” That is to say, it is not important who is going as much as that going can occur. However, the use of the word “you” does serve some sort of personalizing function as well by forcing the reader to place themselves in the sentence. Though the reader understands the generic function of the word “you” outlined above, the reader also can’t help but imagine themselves “going on [the world].” This serves to facilitate the reader’s understanding and relation to the story even though the story itself is fairly straightforward and uncomplicated.

Finally, the repetition of the word “around” in the last line secures the sentence’s meaning. In a literal way, the word points to the circular nature of storytelling: much like this particular story never ends but instead simply lands on the observation that one could go around, the archetypal story does not end in spirit even if it has a literal ending because it is perpetually repeated ad infinitum. Additionally, the vowel heavy sounds of the words “around and around” not only make this repetition literal (since the word around is repeated), but also by give this idea a more physical character as the round shape of one’s mouth when saying “around” and the lack of sharp stop constantans like t or p (except at the very end) give the word a circular feeling. By recognizing this innovative word construction, John Cage uses his work to convey broader ideas about not just the content but the form of stories.

It’s About To Be Writ Again (But My Way)

As listeners hook their headsets to the silver screen, they transport to the surreal world of Bowie’s universe marked by shocking red mullets, clown-like rouge, and comical blue eyeshadow. Perhaps the hallmark of Bowie’s signature art-rock style, “Life on Mars” embodies the enigmatic, theatrical, and quirky characteristics that embody Bowie as an artist. Despite being one of the most renowned and culturally significant songs in music history, listening to “Life on Mars” evokes a sense of obscurity comparable to stumbling upon a never released experimental vinyl. This unusually composed song paired with its accompanying music video deviates so far from mainstream music, yet perfectly belongs in Bowie’s strange, intergalactic universe.

Life on Mars” was released on Bowie’s sophomore 1971 album, Hunky Dory. It was later released as a single. Bowie’s inspiration for the song derived from one of his earliest, unreleased pieces: an English adaptation of Claude François’s “Comme d’habitude” (As Usual). In the 60s, it was common practice for English artists to write their own lyrics to the melodies of hit European songs. Bowie titled his adaptation “Even a Fool Learns to Love.” Bowie never saw the project to completion and left it to the wayside. Paul Anka then bought the rights to the original French song “Comme d’habitude,” and rewrote it as the famous classic “My Way.” Frank Sinatra’s performance of “My Way” rocketed the song to fame, and Bowie then took it upon himself to revisit his interpretation of “Comme d’habitude,” which was “Even a Fool Learns to Love.” After much deliberation, ruminating, and hours of musical genius; Bowie produced what we now know as “Life on Mars.”

The piece hodge podged together several 20th century cultural references. Further influences include the Hollywood Argyles’ doo-wop hit “Alley Oop.” Bowie took the line “Look at those cavemen go” directly from “Alley Oop.” The orchestral crescendo of Bowie’s tune can not only be recognized in its parodic inspiration, Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” – it also echos in Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water”, The Beatles’ “Somewhere,” and Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven.” (“Stairway to Heaven” came after “Life on Mars”)

Life on Mars” remains one of the most enigmatic songs of all time. Though many people enjoy parroting its catchy tune and memorable lyrics, listeners and fans alike often don’t have the slightest idea as to what the song means. With lyrics such as “Sailors fighting in the dance hall/Oh man! Look at those cavemen go” and “Rule Britannia is out of bounds/To my mother, my dog, and clowns,” “Life on Mars” is both a nonsensical word salad and a masterly allegory.

Life on Mars” is a critique of the media consumption culture, systematic oppression, and capitalistism that were prominent in the 1960s (obviously, this was not limited to the 60s, but Bowie was critiquing a very specific period in history at the time that he wrote this song). Bowie criticizes this culture through a satirical story narrated by the lyrics of the song. In this story, a girl’s parents forbid her from going out, so she lives vicariously through media consumption (particularly film and TV). She uses media as a form of escapism and way to travel past the confines of her mundane life. This escapism and vicarious exploration correlates with the title and repeated line “Is there life on Mars?” which expresses a yearning for life beyond Earth. Yet the girl quickly becomes unfazed by the very source of her escapism and excitement. She soon realizes the ridiculous, formulaic, and trite nature of escapist media. She concludes that artistic fantasies derive from experiences and phenomena present in the very world they seek to avoid. Bowie expresses this theme trough lyrical illusions to pop culture, vivid satirical imagery, and metaphors portraying mass consumers as primitive and oblivious to the cruel reality of life.

In the first verse, Bowie establishes the monotonous, desensitizing nature of video media:

As she walks through her sunken dream
To the seat with the clearest view
And she's hooked to the silver screen 
But the film is a saddening bore
For she's lived it ten times or more

The hyperbole exaggerating the number of times the girl has relived the film (or comparable films) admonishes the unoriginality of cinema culture. The girl becomes dejected by living the film “ten times or more,” realizing that everything eventually repeats itself. As she watches society continue to feed the exploitative, capitalistic movie industry, she grows detached from both the far off universes in movies and her own mortal life. This strengthens Bowie’s argument that capitalism and media culture are harmful and pervasive aspects of global life.

Bowie further denounces mass entertainment and capitalism through an allusion to the pop culture figure Mickey Mouse:

It's on America's tortured brow
That Mickey Mouse has grown up a cow

“Cash cow” is a metaphor comparing steady businesses to a dairy cow that can be milked for several years with very little care. This line asserts that Disney is a cash cow, milking the same basic stories and characters to continually reap financial benefit.

Following this metaphor, Bowie shifts his critique to music media:

Now the workers have struck for fame 
'Cause Lennon's on sale again

These lines allude to John Lennon’s song “Working Class Hero,” which artistically stretches John Lennon’s childhood narrative into a proletariat power struggle. This is ironic because Lennon grew up in a detached, comfortable upper middle class life and built his musical career upon the very capitalist system he rebukes in “Working Class Hero.” Bowie attributes musical stars like the Beatles as just as guilty of playing into this corrupt system. Lenon exploits his own story just as Disney exploits Mickey Mouse. They squeeze all they can muster out of their own form of media in an effort to make the most money with little creative exertion. It is important to note that Bowie wrote this before reaching rock star fame. As his career progressed, he too contributed to this corrupt system.

Next, Bowie compares consumers to animals with a herd mentality:

See the mice in their million hordes
From Ibiza to the Norfolk Broads

This establishes an image of people en masse, following whatever norm is set for them. This connotes that they are void of individual thought by letting systems control them. Ibiza and the Norfolk Broads were popular British tourist destinations. Comparing the tourists to mice in hordes reflects the idiocy of commercial tourism. Since people travel in hordes to the same destinations, they fail at escaping. Even though they change physical location, they do not break away from group norms which define the world they want to escape.

Finally, the chorus repeats this set of ever prevalent lines:

It's the freakiest show
Take a look at the Lawman 
Beating up the wrong guy

“Lawman” is a metonym for the corrupt police, security, and law enforcement system. Bowie both scorns the violent criminal justice system and the media’s fetishization of pain and suffering. Through this image, Bowie corroborates that mass systems are inherently oppressive. Furthermore, he articulates that this corruption is a two way process. Yes, the system enforces a dehumanizing power imbalance; however, this system maintains its legitimacy through consumer fascination with violence, pain, and suffering. This is similar to Benjamin’s assertion that dominance requires participation from both the oppressor and the oppressed.

Bowie uses these poetic devices to prove that media industries are corrupt monopolies, that consumer culture is an unhealthy and dissatisfying form of escapism, and that mass public support of these corrupt industries only strengthens their power. This illustrates the vicious cycle of capitalism.

Although “Life on Mars” never reached the household stardom of “My Way,” the song is both a musical and literary masterpiece. It reveals several layers of societal flaws whilst regaling a captivating narrative. Even if “Life on Mars” fades further out of public recognition, it will continue not influence music for decades to come.

Playlist with all songs mentioned in this post as well as notable covers of the song. Yes, “La Vie en Mars” is a French cover of an English song that parodied another English song that was derived from a French song.

Walking Through The Woods of Mac Miller’s Mind

Mac Miller’s song “Woods” is featured on his posthumous album Circles. This album was released a little over a year after the death of Mac Miller and was said to complement its preceding album Swimming, so that the two together create the concept of “Swimming in Circles.”

This song gives a great insight to the mind of Mac Miller, who died of a tragic overdose. Miller struggled with depression and addiction which he expressed through many of songs including “Woods”, in which he raps about being emotionally lost and how his relationship with a woman seems to have guided him. In the beginning of the song Miller states,

Things like this ain’t built to last

I might just fade like those before me

In these two lines, Miller refers to his relationship with a woman as being so positive to the point that he feels it’s almost too good to be true or it “ain’t built to last.” This shines a light on how intense the darkness was in Mac Miller’s life that when he finally had a relationship that was important to him he worried it wouldn’t last. He goes on to say “I might just fade like those before me.” This line carries several meanings. By using the word “fade” he refers to falling out of the music industry as preceding artists have while simultaneously referring to his life, body, and mind deteriorating due to drug abuse, also similar to many other artists. Miller continues on to say,

Too many days in a daze, better wake up

Put your face in the place where the space was

Again, Miller eludes to his two states of emotional struggle along with drug abuse. With the words, “too many days in a daze, better wake up”, Miller might be referring to several aspect of his life. As a popular rapper, his life includes the darkness that is drug abuse which he could be referencing when he states that he is in a daze. Miller could also be talking about his emotional state, expressing that he is stuck in a “daze” caused mental illness, or he could simply be expressing his lack of sleep and rest due to his fast-moving life as an artist. The following line displays how the woman he was with at the time filled an empty “space” for Miller, foreshadowing that this woman was a savior for Mac Miller. Nearing the end of the song Miller states,

So far beyond all our control

You saved a soul so close to broken

This final line is so powerful to me and what really makes this song poetic. When Mac Miller says “you saved a soul so close to broken” he sends out several different messages to his listeners. First, he provides an insight to the struggles he endured during his life that may not have been perceived by the public eye. He also seems to be referring to the same woman by saying that she “saved” him when he was “so close to broken.” I think this notion is so powerful because many people can relate to it. In our world today, people can be experiencing so many things and others on the outside might never know it but also how even the simplest acts of kindness can change someone’s whole life which is why this line is so relatable. Not only does it allow the listeners to experience Mac Miller’s personal experiences but it also connects to the listener’s lives as well. This is a quality that many of Miller’s songs hold which is only one of the many reasons why Mac Miller’s music is so significant in the music world today.

Falling

Free Fallin,” by Tom Petty in his album Full Moon Fever is a ballad about a guy who loses a girl whom he doesn’t realize he misses. Basically, the guy in the song was into a good hearted girl who he treated poorly.

She’s a good girl, loves her mama

Loves Jesus and America too

She’s a good girl, crazy ’bout Elvis

Loves horses and her boyfriend too

It’s a long day, livin’ in Reseda

There’s a freeway, runnin’ through the yard

Petty describes a few traits of the girl he is singing about, and as listeners, we can assume that these are all traits he believes are good. From the beginning of the song, Petty shows interest in the girl, despite continuing by clearly putting her off.

And I’m a bad boy, ’cause I don’t even miss her

I’m a bad boy for breakin’ her heart

He creates a difference between himself and the girl by describing himself as a “bad boy” and describing the girl as a “good girl.”

And I’m free, free fallin’

Yeah I’m free, free fallin’

The chorus describes the narrator free falling, which I think is the narrator expressing his regret for treating the girl poorly and disregarding her.

All the vampires, walkin’ through the valley

Move west down Ventura Boulevard

And all the bad boys are standing in the shadows

And the good girls are home with broken hearts

In the next verse, Petty references Ventura Boulevard, which is a road that runs through Los Angeles. The use of allusion creates an image of hungover men, or vampires, walking home on a road. This allusion contributes to the theme of regret that is emphasized throughout the song.

I wanna glide down over Mulholland

I wanna write her name in the sky

I’m gonna free fall out into nothin’

Gonna leave this world for a while

Petty makes another reference to a road in Los Angeles, but instead of Ventura Blvd, he speaks of Mulholland Drive, another street that serves as a border between LA and other parts of the county.

Petty finishes the song with a harmonized repetition of the refrain that repeats a couple times. Overall the acoustic chords combined with Petty’s smooth vocals make this song great, and the overarching theme of regret of mistakes creates a powerful message in the song.

Life in “2009”

Mac Miller’s song “2009” from his album Swimming gives off an emotional rollercoaster effect. While Mac was writing this song, he was going through addiction, heartache, and depression. The song lets you into his mind and allows you to realize a fraction of what he was going through. The immense amount of pain and suffering he was going through alone was what let him create this song. Within the lyrics spoken by Mac, he expresses the feelings he got from drugs, depression, love and affection. Here is a portion of the lyrics from the first verse expressing him moving forward through his depression each day:

Yeah, okay, you gotta jump in to swim
Well, the light was dim in this life of sin
Now every day I wake up and breathe
I don’t have it all but that’s all right with me

Mac’s lyrics all seem to have a deeper meaning compared to some other artists. You can see in the example above that he draws you into his life by expressing his feelings poetically through music. His use of rhyme and rhythm in his songs make them catchy which adds to the eye opening writing. When listening to the song, Miller’s voice sounds calm and relaxed during this part which shows how battling through depression is a struggle, but he does it everyday. You can tell that his tone is a big part of his writing. The use of volume also has affected how I interpret what he means in his songs. He communicates his feelings through music and it is almost like you are there with him while listening to his music.

I don’t need to lie no more
Nowadays all I do is shine, take a breath and ease my mind, and
She don’t cry no more
She tell me that I get her high ’cause an angel’s s’posed to fly,

Mac Miller learns to take one day at a time by relaxing and being himself. Through these lyrics above, he also mentions his ex; Ariana Grande. She was an angel to him, hence him calling her angel. One of the people in his audience is Ariana who seems to have made a major impact on his life. These lines use imagery by painting a picture/scene of when Ariana stops crying and they are getting high together while she looks like an angel. We all interpret lyrics differently, but that is how I interpreted these lines.

It ain’t 2009 no more
Yeah, I know what’s behind that door

These two lines occur four times within this song. The repetitiveness happens for a reason, especially in poetry. The line constantly reminds the listeners that Mac did know that 2009 was over and that he knew what was going to happen. He released two mixtapes in the year 2009 and was not too sure where or what he was going to write next. He ended up talking about his personal struggle with drug addiction within this period of time.

Mac, throughout all of his songs, seems to use language that can be perceived as inappropriate and outstanding at the same time. Just like in poetry, you need to entree the reader by having words that have deeper meanings then it appears. Mac Miller does that in all of his songs, especially in “2009.”

Dickens Walks The Streets of London

Perhaps the greatest ballad singer of the last century, Liam Clancy’s rendition of The Streets of London remains his most popular song. Originally written by Ralph McTell, the song has been covered by many different artists. Each are echoes of the same universal sorrows every person fears to wade through. The Streets of London, like any great poetry, brings this fundamentally human experience to life. How then does it yield a sort of transcendence? Simply spoken, it warns of the dangers and pitfalls of life in a way as powerful as any literature. It highlights our privileges, exposes our fears, and knocks us back into reality with a greater understanding of ourselves. It’s a bit like the old saying, “I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.” Mirroring this, the chorus goes as follows:

And then how can you tell me you’re lonely

Or say that for you the sun won’t shine?

Let me take you by the hand and

Lead you through the streets of London

I will show you something to make you change your mind.

The chorus welcomes the reader into the story, and figuratively taken by the hand, we are led through portraits of people embodying the many dimensions of sadness. In a way, the speaker feels like a gentler version of Dickens’ Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, guiding us through a gloomy vision, foreshadowing what we fear to eventually be.

Following this comparison, it’s fitting that each portrait tells the story of someone weathered into age. McTell’s first image poignantly portrays an old man who has lost his purpose in life; a man who has become as valued as the outdated newspaper he holds. His second is of an old woman, “Carrying her home in two carrier bags,” too long adrift to engage with the world around her. His third portrait plays like a still life image.

In the all night cafe at quarter past eleven

Same old man sitting there on his own.

Looking at the world over the rim of his teacup.

Each tea lasts an hour and he wanders home alone.

McTell’s language describes a life lived over and over again, each day the same as the last, and each ending just as lonely. His final portrait hints at the end these people will meet.

Have you seen the old man outside the seaman’s mission,

his memory fading like the ribbons that he wears?

And in this winter city the rain cries a little pity

for one more forgotten hero in a world that doesn’t care.

Tragically, this last old man forgets himself in a world that has already forgotten him.

By this point, our Dickens ghost has shown us who we may fear to become, but also who we are not yet. Like Scrooge’s grave, a grim future where we find ourselves purposeless, impoverished, forgotten and alone is possible, and like Tiny Tim’s grave, it may also happen to others. This may be frightening, but it is also comforting. We, like Scrooge, are still endowed with the time and power to make our own decisions, shape the course of our lives, and ultimately lead it somewhere better. Likewise, we must also feel pity for Tiny Tim. The broken people around us are really not much different from ourselves, and we could easily become them. Consider, is it not a triumph of literature that Dickens could reveal these truths to us? It is the same with this song. It’s The Streets of London‘s ability to convey this message in much fewer words that earns it its distinction as poetry. Yes, McTell’s lines rhyme with rhythm. His stanzas realize themselves in repetition. But it is his ability to resonate so soundly with something profoundly human, to uplift and restore fragile spirits, that makes this song a timeless masterpiece.

Life Through A Telescope

“Telescope” by Cage The Elephant from their album Melophobia is a song of self-reflection that dives into the human experience of being alone and of feeling like you are going through the motions of life. The song talks about a man who lives as a recluse, separate from the rest of society, and the listener can subsequently connect in a variety of ways. They may themselves feels like that recluse, know someone who fits that description, or fear becoming like the person the song describes. Ultimately, “Telescope” invites the listener to reflect on their own lives, and what they choose to spend their time doing or find meaning in.

The song begins setting the scene of the reclusive man:

In a far and distant galaxy
Inside my telescope I see 
A pair of eyes peer back at me 
He walks and talks and looks like me

In these beginning lines, Cage The Elephant presents a juxtaposition between how this person seems strange and separate but also very familiar. The “telescope” in the second line emphasizes the distant nature of this man, but the fourth line encourages the listener to note the similarities they have with him. The listener is instantly pushed to think about how they may relate to the rest of the song. As the song continues, the lyrics include a simile in the chorus:

Time is like a leaf in the wind
Either it's time well spent or time I've wasted
Don't waste it

This simile gets at the main purpose of the song. The artist wants the listener to reflect on how they spend their time and what they find worthwhile. The comparison of time with “a leaf in the wind” emphasizes the fleeting nature of our own lives, and how quickly it can blow by. The manner in which Cage The Elephant ends this chorus, with a direct message to the listener, persuades the listener to continue in their own self-reflection. The next verse brings the song back to the story of the reclusive man:

Desperately searching for signs
Too terrified to find a thing
He battens all the hatches down
And wonders why he hears no sound
Frantically searching his dreams
He wonders what it's all about

These lines detail things that many listeners could relate to. Some of the things the man is doing seem irrational and contrasting, searching for answers he does not want to find. The last line of this verse suggests that the man is searching for meaning, something many people do. They don’t know where to look and they are afraid that they won’t find meaning or that the meaning they do find isn’t enough. The word “dreams” in this verse can serve two meanings; many people attempt to find their purpose in their goals and aspirations in the future, but this man seems to be looking in his dreams as he sleeps for hints of the answers he searches for, because he has prevented himself from finding any in his daily life.

“Telescope” provides listeners the opportunity to reflect on their lives and their own ideas of meaning. If we spend too much time searching for meaning, we may miss out on important things; if we don’t find meaning in anything at all, we may feel as though we are going through the motions and not truly living.

Every Tear’s A Rain Parade From Hell

Ariana Grande’s 5th album, thank u, next, was released in 2019. In this album, fans could tell that the music was very personal and listening to it was like having a connection with Ariana’s soul. In one of her most melancholy tracks, “ghostin”, she writes about her turmoil after losing her ex-boyfriend Mac Miller to overdose while also trying to maintain a healthy relationship with her fiancé at the time Pete Davidson.

I know you hear me when I cry
I try to hold it in the night
While you're sleepin' next to me
But it's your arms that I need this time

In the opening verse, Ariana describes how she cries at night over the loss of her former partner. However, she puts a twist on it by speaking to Pete instead of her audience. Understanding who this song is intended for puts a deeper layer of meaning into it. We find out in an interview that Ariana almost didn’t put the track on the album, as she didn’t feel quite ready to let the world hear how vulnerable she is in this track.

Baby, you do it so well
You been so understanding, you been so good
And I'm puttin' you through more than one ever should
And I'm hating myself 'cause you don't want to
Admit that it hurts you

In this verse, Ariana is admitting how difficult it is for her to be emotional with her fiancé because it hurts him to think about her missing another man. While there is a lot of nuance to this situation, one cannot help their feelings but it takes a lot of strength and courage to admit them. While the audience is still Pete throughout the song, she tries to make him understand what exactly she’s going through and make him see the situation from her perspective.

Though I wish he were here instead
Don't want that living in your head
He just comes to visit me
When I'm dreaming every now and then
And after all that we been through
There's so much to look forward to
What was done and what was said
Leave it all here in this bed with you

The line “He just comes to visit me/ When I’m dreaming every now and then” is actually a reference to Mac Miller’s song “Cinderella” in which he sings “You in my dreams that’s why I sleep all the time”. This sheds light that there is still love between Ariana and Mac, and while the relationship didn’t work out it didn’t deserve to end the way it did. She admits this to Pete, while also admitting that she doesn’t want him feeling like he is lesser.

We'll get through this, we'll get past this, I'm a girl with
A whole lot of baggage
But I love you, we'll get past this, I'm a girl with
A whole lot of baggage, yeah

The reference to baggage in the scene helps us understand what it is like to date Ariana Grande. In addition to losing her ex-boyfriend, the Manchester terrorist attack at one of her shows left her pretty rattled. She also was thrust into the spotlight at the young age of 12 and had family issues with her parents divorcing. The imagery of baggage being lugged behind her into any relationship she goes into is really poetic and helps dive deeper into the experience of being with her.

Look at the cards that we've been dealt
If you were anybody else
Probably wouldn't last a day
Every tear's a rain parade from hell

Another imagery from the song is “Every tear’s a rain parade from hell”. This is a reference to a song from her previous album (Sweetener) titled “no tears left to cry” where she shares the fact that she cried so much in this period of her her life that “there ain’t no tears left to cry”. So, naturally, when you’ve passed the point of crying so much you have no tears left, crying over yet another tragedy in your life is fair game to compare to hell.

The overall meaning of the song is her telling Pete that she still loves Mac and misses him dearly, but she is determined to make their relationship together work. She understands that there are complex feelings, and feelings even about those feelings but she believes they will get through it. While their relationship didn’t work out in the end, it was an important step in her life to heal from all the trauma she experienced while also learning to be open in love and the people you are with.

I love Ariana Grande and I am so proud of all that she has been through. The growth she went through can be heard in her music and it is fascinating, as well as heart wrenching, to go back and listen to it.

To Be Defined by Others Experience of You

I chose the song “Bad Guy” by Billie Eilish, in her first song in her debut studio album When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?  The song earned the #1 in the Billboard Top 100 making her the first person born in the 21st century to have a #1. The song talks through experience – taunting her lover, flaunting her tough nature while the lover questions his own. Thus making fun of people’s personas of themselves, and the challenging people who think they can define you. 

Eilishes most evident use of experience through figurative language starting the song off describing her “white shirt now red, my bloody nose – sleepin’, your on your tippy toes.” She uses these simple phrases to shortly describe her lovers behavior, as he lies to her and himself. Stating her experience and letting the listeners interpret the situation, through her use of specific words connected to common tropes. Such as her description of her bloody nose falling onto her white shirt, “ white shirt now red, my bloody nose”  the powerful use of imagery through those simple phrases create an experience for the reader which is true poetry. 

Additionally she breaks down the lovers exuding ‘dominance’ confronting him by saying, “Think you’re so criminal – Bruises on both my knees for you – Don’t say thank you or please – I do what I want when I’m wanting to.” In these lines she is telling us that her lover got too confident and she told him that she was the one he should be worried about. Thus breaking down the narrative of self definition while also putting herself above him to prove the point. Throughout this section of the song we continue to be brought through experience and how her perspective changes like humans throughout time. That some changes are to put people into their place, and the change that you make defining verbally what you are is just false because you cannot define your outward characteristic. Or to state it more plainly to state you are one way means you are actually another, so to truly be confident you must show it through your actions. Overall the emotion and overall meaning of the piece is tied to its poetic use of experience. 

Finally we see another use of experience through her conversation with the lover, “You said she’s scared of me? – I mean I don’t see what see see’s – But maybe its cause I’m wearing your cologne” Eilish uses the common fight of relationships and jealousy, to further out understanding of the quick experience she details in the 1st line “But maybe its cause I’m wearing your cologne.” This part of the song changes as the quick base of the song slows down and her words are more stretched and whispery. Thus finalizing the songs meaning to represent the struggles of people and their self-defined often false charictoristics.

Throughout the song she uses metaphors and emotion to communicate experience, making Billie Eilishes song “Bad Guy” poetry according to Perrine. 

Here are the full lyrics: https://genius.com/Billie-eilish-bad-guy-lyrics

The Cardigan Under the Bed

Taylor Swift is a master story teller. Through her range of music genres, the artist has been telling stories of love, heartbreak, youthfulness and loss throughout her career. With her indie/alternative album Folklore, she not only writes songs about her own experiences, but of other characters. Specifically in the song “Cardigan,” she seems to write in the point of view of a teenager that has experienced her first heartbreak, and is very aware of the betrayal and pain it has caused her. The song indicates that in retrospect, heartbreak and pain can make a person stronger, and can have a impact at any age.

Cardigan utilizes metaphors, simile, allusion, repetition and imagery to express the lingering pain of heartbreak. As stated in the first verse:

Vintage tee, brand new phone
High heels on cobblestones
When you are young, they assume you know nothing
Sequined smile, black lipstick
Sensual politics
When you are young, they assume you know nothing

The first two lines of the song are very descriptive and convey the speaker’s youth. The line “when you are young, they assume you know nothing” is the most repeated lyric in the song. The speaker is not only reflecting on life as a teenager, but also the fact that she has become experienced with love and pain. It also indicated that she knows more now, and that everything in the past is a learning experience no matter how much pain it caused.

In the refrain of the song, Swift sings,

And when I felt like I was an old cardigan
Under someone's bed
You put me on and said I was your favorite

The old cardigan is a metaphor for the speaker’s low self and tendency to feel forgotten. She felt that her boyfriend made her feel valued and cared about. This is the speaker reflecting on how ‘seen’ she felt while in this relationship in her youth. The matureness of the speaker is showcased through her ability to pinpoint the exact factors that made that past relationship what it was.

Tried to change the ending
Peter losing Wendy, I
I knew you
Leavin' like a father

In the third chorus, the speaker says that she tried to save the relationship from ending, but it wasn’t able to be fixed. Swift alludes to the story Peter Pan with the lyrics, “Peter losing Wendy.” Peter Pan wants Wendy to stay with him in Neverland, but Wendy wants to grow up. In regards to the song, the speaker may think that that her past boyfriend wasn’t mature enough, and that is why their relationship ended. The lyrics “I knew you” are also repeated multiple times in the song, indicating that the speaker nevertheless, felt a real connection to this person in her youth. The simile, “leaving like a father” shows how her boyfriend left her, similar to a father leaving his family.

Overall, Cardigan reflects the story of a speaker reflecting on their first heartbreak. Through it’s past tense point of view, the song showcases that heartbreak and loss can be a reflecting point later in life. It also establishes that even though teenagers are young, they still are capable of knowing things. I highly recommend this song, and all of Swift’s other songs for that matter. They communicate experiences that others can relate to and gain information from. Isn’t that poetry?

03′ Adolescence

The rap artist J. Cole has been around for awhile and is personally one of my favorite artists. In his album 2014 Forest Hills Drive, the song “03′ Adolescence” is a great showing of poetry in music. In this song J. Cole talks about his life growing up and the struggles he went through in an impoverished community.

Early in his song, Cole utalizes multidimensional language quite clearly.

I wish I weren't so shy, I wish I was a bit more fly
I wish that I, could tell her how I really feel inside

Cole uses the word fly in the meaning of looking and being cool. While the literal definition of fly is to take flight in the sky, he uses the slang term. He then goes on to use the other form when he says,

Ball player, star player, I'm just watchin' from the side
On the bench, cause my lack of confidence won't let me fly

Cole uses the same word to end another line of his music in order to portray another form of the word. This time he uses the word to show the more literal meaning of the word. He purposefully uses the same word twice in order to display both meanings of the word.

Poetry is something that makes someone feel a particular experience. Without a doubt this song classifies that but the only way for you to experience this poetry is to listen to it.

Music, or LUXury poetry perhaps

Released in September of 2013, Lorde’s hit album Pure Heroine is a beautiful collection of lyricism that presents the teen experience in an almost melancholic way. Being pretty young herself when writing it, each of Lorde’s songs in this album hint at youth and the collective experience we all seem to face. Of all her songs, there is one that sticks out as the most poetic: “400 Lux.”

The song begins with a sound that almost resembles a siren. Although not overtly recognized as that, it seems to serve as some sort of drawl or a representation of leaving time. Even before Lorde even sings, it is clear that the song evokes a feeling of timelessness. The song, which has been interpreted to be about two teens watching the sunrise, expands on that theme with its poetic lyricism. 400 Lux is poetry because of the use of figures of speech, imagery, and the motif of time.

The first few lines of the song are packed with literary devices. The most prominent of them, and one that reoccurs through the song, is the use of figures of speech. The phrase “killing time” is a figure of speech that is essential to the theme. The expression serves as a poetic way to say that the speaker likes spending time with the recipient of the lyrics.

We're never done with killing time
Can I kill it with you
Till my veins run red and blue

400 Lux could also be considered poetry due to its stunning imagery. The pre-chorus of the song is especially loaded with lines that make the listener feel as if they are living inside the song. Not only is it filled with similes, personification, and repetition, but it accurately paints the sentimental picture of two teens adventuring and feeling like the world is theirs.

You pick me up and take me home again
Head out the window again
We're hollow like the bottles that we drain
You drape your wrists over the steering wheel
Pulses can drive from here
We might be hollow but we're brave

Throughout 400 Lux, the motif of passing time is used as a beautiful poetic device. As introduced in the first few lines, the theme of “killing time” is apparent all through the song. The word “time” is not only repeated many times, but the overall concept of time referenced thoroughly. Even though the song tells the story of two teens watching the sunrise, the overarching motif of time allows the lyrics to take on a more poetic feel. This can especially be seen in the chorus, where Lorde artistically conveys the feeling of missing something before it’s even over and the nostalgic experience of the teen years. Although it doesn’t directly state the word “time”, the motif is still present in the imagery and overall mood she creates.

(And I like you)
I love these roads where the houses don't change
(And I like you)
Where we can talk like there's something to say
(And I like you)
I'm glad that we stopped kissing the tar on the highway
(And I like you)
We move in the tree streets
I'd like it if you stayed

Of all of Lorde’s ingenious pieces, 400 Lux has got to be one of the most profoundly poetic. The stunning imagery, the emotions it evokes, and the incredible lyricism are all part of what make this song one of my all-time favorites. I’d highly recommend listening to this song while driving late at night with the windows down, for an overwhelming feeling of nostalgia and rightness in your world.

Budapest, but this song could be named Alaska and have the same meaning

George Ezra’s “Budapest” from his album Wanted on Voyage was released in 2014 and is part of the Folk Rock genre. The songs purpose although confusing, is not to talk about Budapest. Ezra’s purpose was to write a song about all the things he would give up for an individual and how important they are to him. It has been exposed that Ezra wrote this song after missing his train to his next stop and being stuck in Budapest another day because he overslept due to a little to much fun the night before.

My many artifacts
The list goes on
If you just say the words
I’ll up and run

Ezra’s use of the word artifacts gives the idea that he sees his past life without them as historic and old. Objects are referred to as artifacts when they are historically important as well. By using this word he puts forth the idea that although important his potential life with this person is far more important than his past.

They fear they’d lose so much
If you take my hand

In these lines Ezra refers to his family and their judgement if he were to leave his current life to be with ths person and it is poetic because he shows their importance to him by disregarding his families thoughts even potentially leaving his family with nothing. In his wording he says “if you take my hand” and that leaves the listener to wonder if he means take my hand in marriage or simply to hold him.

My house in Budapest
My hidden treasure chest
Golden grand piano
My beautiful castillo
You
You
I’d leave it all

This chorus line is the main point of the song that out of all these amazing things Ezra would sacrifice to be with them. He titles this song “Budapest” not because it is an ode to budapest but because it is an example of what he would give away. He then shows some exaggeration by mentioning a hidden treasure chest which one could only dream of finding. These things that many consider once in a lifetime, nothing compared to a life with the person he is talking about. This song is not as simple as a love song asking to run away together but one that compares amazing things to something Ezra cant even fathom anything better.

White Ferraris Turned Poetic

White Ferrari” from the 2016 album Blonde by Frank Ocean describes an experience in which two lovers go on a car ride. To me, the car ride is a metaphor for a relationship in which each person has differing views but how none of it matters to them because the journey makes it all worth it. Songs, just like poetry illustrate an experience for the reader. The way Ocean constructs his song through diction and syntax can help deepen the readers experience if they have been in love with someone who had different values and thought about life differently or broaden their experience by making them feel that they are in the relationship, understanding how Ocean feels throughout it.

The song stars by setting the scene and describing how the lovers used to be.

Sweet sixteen, how was I supposed to know anything? 
We're both so familiar. 

In just the first couple of lines, Ocean is able to convey both their innocence and their relationship towards one another. The mention of the sweet 16 indicates that he was naive, not knowing of everything yet. The line about their familiarity suggests that they fell in love at a young age, or at least were close in their teenage years. The song continues to acknowledge their growing relationship.

I care for you still and I will forever
That was my part of the deal, honest
We got so familiar
Spending each day of the year, White Ferrari
Good times

The two have blossomed together, still remaining very close and he makes it clear that he is in it for the long run. They begin to hang out every day and he wants it to last forever, and plans on being there for her. The “White Ferrari” that is implemented into this verse, as in many other parts of the song, continues the metaphor. They are driving in a White Ferrari, almost watching their relationship as they drive. The relationship is good and happy, just like a nice car ride through a scenic place. Finally, the song talks about how they view both their relationship and the world differently.

I'm sure we're taller in another dimension
You say we're small and not worth the mention

These lines hold lots of meaning, just as lines in a traditional poem do. Ocean himself believes that somewhere, not in reality, they are greater. Himself, her, and their love together is even bigger. She disagrees and thinks that their love and themselves as people are minuscule and not anything great. These lines conveys an importance greater then themselves as people and speaks to their views on their potential and the world. This creates a divide between them, another similar line being, “You dream of walls that hold us in prison.” They have different views of the world and what they can become. The song ends with Ocean’s own opinion on this difference.

Clearly this isn't all that there is 
Can't take what's been given
But we're so okay here, we're doing fine

Through these lines it is clear that Ocean craves something more in life. He is in denial that “this is it” and he wants more. He then acknowledges the relationship once more and states that they are good and that it is good enough for him. He knows she thinks differently then he does and this life is good enough for her. While it isn’t for him, she is good enough for him. Throughout the song the reader is able to see that she means a lot to him, and their relationship has evolved from a very young age. Through Ocean’s poetic syntax and diction, the reader comes to understand their relationship, the similarities, the differences, the good and the bad throughout the duration of the car ride in a White Ferrari.

“Let Her Go”

by Jasmine Wood

Released by English singer-songwriter Passenger (Mike Rossenberg) in July 2012 as part of his album All the Little Things, “Let Her Go” tells the melancholy story of a brokenhearted man who is struggling to come to terms with the end of his relationship. As a folk rock hit single, “Let Her Go” exemplifies Passenger’s simple yet effective language and emotive storytelling technique.

The song itself utilizes oppositional irony and specific scenes to spread the message that it is important to appreciate relationships and people before they are gone and it is too late. Through the speaker’s obvious pain, the audience is able to emotionally connect to his struggle.

Throughout the entire song, the speaker references general experiences that everyone listening knows. For example, the song opens with the lines, “Well you only need the light when it’s burning low/ Only miss the sun when it starts to snow.” Stating examples that are impossible to not know, Passenger creates a situation to which everyone can relate, and sets up his message in a way that is easily receivable. Furthermore, by using the word “you” repetitively in his lines, the speaker builds a connection with his listeners by speaking directly to them, even though he is really referring to his own experience.

Next, the speaker shares his specific experiences in dealing with the aftermath of the breakup. One verse states,

Staring at the ceiling in the dark 
Same old empty feeling in your heart
'Cause love comes slow and it goes so fast
Well you see her when you fall asleep
Never to touch and never to keep
'Cause you loved her too much and dive too deep

While not everyone might have lain awake at night depressed after a break up, the specificity of this instance allows the audience to picture the speaker doing so, and in turn feel empathy for him. As a result, the speaker is further characterized as a miserable person who is suffering because of his actions (or lack thereof). Thus, the audience gets a glimpse of what their future will be like if they do not take heed to his message.

Another tool Passenger utilizes is repetition. In fact, the majority of the song’s lyrics is actually just the chorus that is repeated five times. While not the most important literary technique, this repetition does serve to emphasize the message for the audience:

Well you only need the light when it's burning low
Only miss the sun when it starts to snow
Only know you love her when you let her go
Only know you've been high when you're feeling low
Only hate the road when you're missing home
Only know you love her when you let her go
And you let her go

Lastly and perhaps most importantly, Passenger’s use of oppositional irony is what makes this song so compelling. By providing specific examples of the irony of not realizing something’s importance until it is gone, he further emphasizes the importance of valuing what one has. For example, he says, “Only know you’ve been high when you’re feeling low/ Only hate the road when you’re missing home.” Not only does this add unique wit to the song, but it also strengthens the overall message as it builds up to the final example, “Only know you love her when you let her go,” which is what he is really trying to say.

Overall, Passenger masterfully weaves together relatable anecdotes and emotive language to ensure that his audience receives his message to keep loved ones close. It is in this way the “Let Her Go” is both a poem and a song.

Time Is Our Worst Enemy

The ice age was a period long ago melted and washed away with the passage in time. In their song, “Ice Age“, How To Destroy Angels references this period in comparison to the human experience. “Ice age” is apart of the Welcome Oblivion album, which creates an atmosphere of despair and a lack of purpose. The subtle, deep electronic yet complex beat strings the album together. “Ice Age’s” central message is that everything is temporary, and no matter how much you try, people or things in your life will eventually fade away. Like a once frozen solid world, slowly melting away. This is an unavoidable truth that we all must accept.

“Ice Age” is the perfect example of a “Song-Poem” despite it’s few words. The song is nearly seven minutes long yet only consists of seven short stanzas. The time to stanza ratio adds to the poems meaning by drawing the listener further into the stanzas.

The poetic nature of the stanzas can be found immediately in the opening verse:

I find it looks the same but everything has changed
I find remembering gets harder every day
Sometimes I still believe who I pretend to be
Sometimes well everything’s exactly how it seems

The first stanza establishes poetic elements through it’s structure. The four line stanza follows an “AABB” format, common among more traditional poetry. The “I, I, Sometimes, Sometimes” verse design serve primarily to illustrate to the listener the band’s uncertainty in the past and what lies ahead. The first two lines of every verse establish what the vocalist sees in the present, and “sometimes” is reflecting on what once was. The same format can be found in every verse stanza, only broken by the chorus with it’s own, “ABAB” style.

In the following stanza, the feelings of despair continue:

I see the color of your eyes has turned to grey
I feel the wind is growing colder every day
Sometimes I open up the walls and disappear
Sometimes the crashing of the waves is all I hear

In the present, “eyes has turned to grey” and “growing colder every day” connote a feeling of lost time that can not be regained. This gives the listener the impression that what has already happened can not be reversed or prevented. The second half of the stanza continues this feeling with “disappear” and “crashing of the waves” suggesting the artist is fading away and slowly beginning to accept the situation. This strong image connects back to a feeling of hopelessness against a strong tide.

Ocean
Help me find a way
Ocean
Wash us all away

It is the chorus that completes the poem’s image perfectly. Throughout the poem, How To Destroy Angels uses words like “grey,” “colder,” “ice,” “waves,” and finally: “Ocean”. These are the words that make the listener feel the past melting away. The once great iceberg melts away into the larger ocean. Until the chorus, they resist the change, or rising tide. Once the listener reaches the chorus the mood shifts from one of resistance to acceptance. The lines “Ocean Help me find a way” brings acceptance and the hope of a new beginning.

That all things come to an end is a truth of life for all people, and this poem grapples with this struggle through poetic expression. The poem puts the image of an individual resisting the changing tide, until they finally accept the inevitable.

Embarrassing Honesty

by Mckale Thompson

In J. Cole’s song “Wet Dreamz” from his album 2014 Forest Hills Drive, he dives deeper into his first sexual experience. The song flows like a narrative beginning when Cole meets the girl, all of the way to when he ends up at her house. The listener gets inside information into Cole’s emotions every step of the way, his seemingly embarrassing honesty builds trust with the listener causing them to be invested in Cole’s journey throughout the song. But, why does Cole’s narrative come off as taboo when he’s talking about an experience that the majority of people have at some point in their lives? Cole uses poetic language to cause the listener to feel like they have privileged information about his first sexual encounter and draw them into his narrative.

Let me take y'all back man
As I do so well
Wasn't nothin' like that
Man, it wasn't nothin' like that first time

At the beginning of the song, Cole utilizes flashback to transport the listener to a different time. By beginning the song with a flashback the listener is immediately curious about where they are being taken, this prepares the listener to hear an important story. By addressing the listener as “y’all” the listener feels as if they are sitting across from an old friend with gossip. The use of 2nd person also ropes the listener into Cole’s narrative.

'Cause when I seen 'em thighs on her and them hips on her and them lips on her

Cole goes on to describe the appearance of the girl that he is interested in. By using polysyndeton, the reader is able to understand the ongoing attraction that Cole has. The continued use of “and” makes the listener feel that list goes on for longer than it really does. This draws the listener further into Cole’s narrative because she is no longer just a girl, she is an extremely attractive girl according to Cole’s account.

I wrote back and said "of course I had sex before"
Knowing I was frontin'
I said I was like a pro baby
Knowing I was stuntin'
But if I told the truth I knew I'd get played out son

Cole uses dramatic irony to add suspense to his story. He first explains what he said in reality, and then in the next line reveals his real thoughts about the situation. By letting the listener know that he really had no experience while he told the girl that he did, the reader is curious if he’ll be made as a fraud. He even reveals the stakes of his lie saying, “But if I told the truth I knew I’d get played out” meaning that if he was to be exposed as inexperienced he would be ostracized by his peers. Cole uses poetic language to create an unforgettable story, that also happens to have a pretty catchy hook.

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Four words I live by and highly recommend you do too. Artist Bobby McFerrin sings one of the best songs ever in his album Simple Pleasures, the song is called: “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” The song was released in 1988 and won 2 grammys and if you haven’t heard it then I’m not sure what you’ve been doing all your life. It seems like every human is born knowing the classic whistle and hum from this song.

The overall theme of this song is a simple yet very powerful. The title sums it up by stating Don’t Worry, Be Happy but additional lyrics throughout the song highlight connecting ideas like how trouble in everyone’s life is guaranteed but by worrying it only becomes worse. He also explains multiple unfortunate situations followed by advice to stay positive and happy because having feelings of worry or negativity will only make things worse. An experience this song deepens is life itself because it provides generally applicable advice to peoples problems with a theme many people do not hear. Society frowns upon people who do not appear to care or worry about their lives problems and often deem such people as lazy, detached or foolish. But the “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” motto doesn’t mean you don’t care about your life and fail to accomplish anything, it simply means you operate with a positive attitude and don’t worry about dumb stuff. I think we all could take a page out of McFerrin’s book and worry about what truly matters, forget the rest, and be happy.

The first poetic device McFerrin uses to enhance the songs meaning is a motif. Obviously the motif is “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” which accounts for 50% of the lyrics used in this song. His repetition of this phrase enhances the poetic theme of his song by instilling this mantra in every listeners mind. You cannot listen to this song without recalling the most used phrase/the title and in doing this I think McFerrin is trying to teach us that with all problems in life, you must try to block out all possible distractions, excuses or reason to NOT be happy and instead, stop worrying and just be happy.

McFerrin states:

Ain't got no cash, ain't got no style
Ain't got no gal to make you smile
But don't worry, be happy
'Cause when you worry your face will frown
And that will bring everybody down

The imagery here of having no cash, no style, no gal and no smile is not only a catchy and amazing rhyme scheme but its great imagery. I can perfectly picture what type of man is lacking all of those things and in doing this McFerrin establishes fear and sadness in my heart because I worry that one day I may be that man. He quickly readjusts my thought process with the next lines, encouraging the listener to not worry and be happy while also teaching selflessness by stating that if you are sad, you will make everyone else sad. This furthers his theme of “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” by explaining to listeners that sadness will bring everyone down and thus, if you don’t worry and just be happy not only do you help yourself you help everyone else. He’s teaching listeners peace and love for oneself and society.

Lastly, his lines:

Listen to what I say 
In your life expect some trouble
When you worry you make it double

These lines exhibit simple allegory which alludes that worrying only makes your problems worse. Double trouble. This is a very true theme in that most would agree that worrying about things you cannot control is a waste of energy. On the flipside, worrying about things you CAN control doesn’t change anything either and only makes you feel as though you have more trouble. Execute on what you can control and don’t worry, be happy. This song is poetry because it is “the most condensed and concentrated form of literature, saying the most in the fewest number of words.” This really holds true in this song because although most of the lyrics are “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”, as a listener I interpret this simple words to mean so many thinks such as be grateful, be selfless, peace, love, happiness and more.

In other words, every little thing will be alright.