Facing Problems In LIFE

Saba’s 2018 album CARE FOR ME was all about his process of coping with the deaths of family members and other issues in his life. “LIFE” encapsulates all of these ideas into one song. The standout aspect of “LIFE” and CARE FOR ME is Saba’s ability to paint a vivid and personal account of his state of mind in this time so listeners can empathize with him. The biggest theme on “LIFE” is the unpredictable and transient nature of life and what the people’s lives mean to other people.

Saba opens the song with a commentary on the prison system in America and it’s unfair treatment of black people.

They want a barcode on my wrist (barcode on my wrist)
To auction off the kids
That don’t fit their description of a utopia (black)

Saba uses allusion to fit multiple meanings into these 3 lines. First, the “barcodes on my wrist” most predominantly reminded me of the treatment of Jewish people in Nazi concentration camps but the later inclusion of “to auction of the kids” made me think of slave auctions. The mini theme within these lines is about the prison system and mass incarceration of black people in the US and racial tension in general. While these don’t specifically relate to losing loved ones, it does give some backstory as to why there is so much turmoil in his life as well as others with these same experiences. Giving listeners the ability to experience what Saba goes through and how he views the treatment of black people in America is one example of how “LIFE” is poetic.

The chorus in “LIFE” repeats the names of people Saba has lost that had significant influence on his life,

They killed my cousin with a pocket knife
While my uncle on the phone
He was gone for more than half my life
He got out a year and then he died
I was honor roll, talking to my father on the phone
Left the city when I was just four

These few lines relate to the main theme of loss being unexpected and life being temporary, but in order to really experience his emotions you need to listen to the music. One of the aspects of poetry we talked about in class is how delivery of lines affects the meaning of the words. Whenever the chorus comes up, Saba’s voice becomes very deep, distorted, and sped up with a booming bass line setting the tone for the few seconds of the chorus. I believe he chose to rap the chorus this way because it adds to the impact of his losses and the dark/deep places that he ended up in because of them.

Something a lot of people struggle with is expressing their true feelings. It is common in people who feel depressed or are just struggling to be happy with their lives and Saba illustrates this feeling in these following three lines,

Tell me it’ll be okay, tell me happier days
Tell me that she my bae, that I won’t be alone
Tell ’em I’ll be okay when he ask, “How’s my day?”

Saba uses the repetition of “tell me” to show he’s asking other people for validation in what he’s doing and to give him hope for the future. The last line is the most impactful in showing how people hide their true emotions. Almost everyone can relate to saying “I’m okay” when they’re really not but either don’t want to trouble other people or don’t want to face their feelings. Saba shows how the combination of wanting the help and validation of other people while simultaneously feeling unable to seek help creates a vicious cycle of self-loathing and depression.

While this song focuses on the sad feelings of loss, other songs on CARE FOR ME address how he overcame his sadness by facing his problems head on instead of continuing to run away and stay in denial. It’s only 40 minutes long so I highly recommend listening all the way through if you feel you’re trapped and need some music to relate with and potentially learn from.

Moving On

At first glance of Ariana Grandes song “thank u, next” you would not think it had any poetic resemblance and just think it was another pop song about boys. As you take a deeper dive into the song you realize that it is much more than that. In Ariana grandes song she says thank you to all of her exes and explains all that she has learned from them and the positive take aways.

In her song Ariana repeats the lyrics

Thank U, next

The use of this repetition throughout the song shows the importance of moving on. Most pop culture songs fixate on how they didn’t love you back or how obsessed you are with a person. Ariana Grande goes against this and says thank you but it didn’t work out and I moved on and am fine.

Grande then reiterates her point of the song by saying how she now thinks of their relationships

Thought I’d end up with Sean
But he wasn’t a match
Wrote some songs about Ricky
Now I listen and laugh
Even almost got married
And for Pete, I’m so thankful
Wish I could say “thank you” to Malcolm
‘Cause he was an angel

The fact that Grande can thank these people and say something nice about them shows a lot about her character and how strong she is. When the song came out Ariana had just just lost Mac miller and whom she loved very much. When she says the like wish I could say thank you to Malcolm cuz he was an angel she is referring to Mac miller who’s lyrics where also poetic. I think that Grande purposely made the lines in this song poetic to convey her love for him and as a way to remember him through song.

After Grande says thank you and positive things about people she says all she has learned from them

One taught me love
One taught me patience
And one taught me pain
Now, I’m so amazing

In Ariana Grande’s song she appreciates all they have taught her love, patience, and pain and the gives this credit to being the person she is today. The way that Ariana Grande was able to turn something sad like heart break into an upbeat song thanking people is amazing. “Thank U, Next” is a song you can listen to when you want to be brought up and happy or when you want to feel comforted. This Song can make you feel so many different emotions and has so much depth to it.

A Song with Words

The Sun” is a relatively light electronic/dance song that provides a feeling of summer and melancholy. It’s from French musician Myd, who mainly does house music. The song is part of the EP All Inclusive, which released in 2017.

As I was selecting a song to defend as poetry from my Spotify playlists, I realized that I don’t actually listen to a ton of songs that have words. “The Sun” is one of the few songs I regularly listen to that does have words, although even it isn’t too complex in its lyrical composition. It sounds super nice and calm, as does the other two songs on the EP, but the lyrics don’t draw too much attention to themselves.

Myd was certainly going for a feeling to be received with this song, rather than any direct message to the audience. And the lyrics permit that transfer; the story being told is one of a journey, of movement, something for the audience to feel. A few things from behind the scenes support this idea of movement: the cover art for All Inclusive, and the music video for another song on the EP, also called “All Inclusive”. In the cover art, Myd is standing naked on a large boat in a beautiful, wealthy beach-villa landscape. It’s a pretty releasing image. But the music video is very strange, in kind of a disturbing way. Myd comes across as a crazy person and a rich douchebag, which he most definitely is. Through the movement found here, and despite the douchiness of the writer of the song, there’s still something about “The Sun” and its use of language that resonates with me.

Always on the run
Towards the sun
We always wonder
Why we love it, why we love

This verse is repeated multiple times in the song. A reason for this is that the journey to the sun, which is a metaphor for escaping the restraints of society, doesn’t end. The speaker isn’t just wondering about his life, he cites that he’s always wondering about why things are the way they are. In other words, the speaker won’t ever reach the sun. The whole “it’s all about the journey” thing is kind of cliché, but I think the speaker says a little more than that. He’s proclaiming the idea that there is no end to the journey, and that the journey is the only option, so it’s like the speaker is lucky that he loves it, because if he didn’t, his existence would be tragic.

The entire song feels bittersweet, and melancholic in a way. It’s also repetitive. The journey being an escape from societal restraints, anxiety, and sadness, it’s bittersweet that the escape is so formulaic, and that there’s always one way to do it. This is why the Sun is an interesting metaphor to use, because there is only one direction to it.

We can't bear it, just to know that
Like the sun, like the sun
Hey, we're in love
Baby you know
If we can't do it
We'll regret it
Honestly we spent too much time waiting

Something I haven’t mentioned yet is the “we”. There’s clearly a love interest here, someone the speaker escapes with. There is a problem: they’re not doing something they want to be doing. One would think that this would pertain to the restrains of society, and the issue would be solved during the journey to the Sun. (In Myd’s case, this would be going on a cruise and partying). However, this issue comes up during the escape. So, it is unclear what the problem actually is, whether they want to actually reach the sun (which is impossible) or if it’s impossible to even journey to the Sun, and the speaker and his love interest are just lying to themselves about ever being on a journey. Even through this problem, the speaker says that they love the journey: bittersweet.

In the end, “The Sun” is just a French dance song created by rich white guy. The lyrics do, however, present an interesting situation that goes against what is traditionally thought of as escaping society, or being yourself, in a way that benefits the rest of the song in its provoking of emotion, which only poetry could do.

Does the Sidewalk End?

“Open Road” by Roo Panes from the Weight Of Your World EP is a sweet song essentially about living life to the fullest potential while keeping home and family close. Although the meaning isn’t blatantly obvious, the listener is able to take from it what they want. When I listen, I focus on how the song is broadening my view of my own place in the world. I am reminded of the importance of living as free as possible, that our only real bounds are the ones we create for ourselves. There are a number of paths we can follow throughout our lives and all we have to do is start walking.

The song starts off with a hyperbole pertaining to an emotional state we all know too well. Sadness. 

And even from afar I hear you crying

Verse 1

This lyric is not meant to be taken literally. Panes is commenting on the strength of the emotion carrying from one person to the other without direct communication. Sadness is such a raw emotion that even when someone seems fine, anyone who knows them best can see through it. This is a powerful line as it suggests that someones sadness is so “loud” that it can be heard from far far away. 

The chorus is first accompanied by a Metaphor.

Let me out of this cage, ‘fore I swell up with rage


Panes is obviously talking about a metaphorical cage here. It is a cage of our own making that limits us to certain gratifications in life. Using diction like “cage” creates an image that is easily understood especially in the context of a fast paced song.

The chorus also consists of personification of the sky. 

Let me shout to the skies that I’m too young to die


This line can be interpreted a number of ways. Depending on how the listener interprets the lyric, the sky could be God, “the universe”, a different higher power, or the sky and world as in everything under the sun. As someone who is agnostic, I interpreted this line as simply the sky, in which case I consider this line to be personification since a sky cannot hear or receive a verbal shout. This line is also comforting in a number of ways as a seemingly much needed release of fears and emotions. 

The third verse utilizes one more lyric of personification. 

Wisdom knows the eyes through which you’re crying 

Verse 3

This line suggests that one emotion, which in this case is most likely sadness, is one dimensional on a unique multi-dimensional individual. We are so much more than one state of emotion, and as the eyes are the window to the soul, wisdom can see through the eyes into who you truly are. However, as we know, wisdom is not an actual person and that is where personification comes in as a useful device here. 

The purpose of this song is to comfort its listeners. Through the use of several poetic devices along with a steady tempo and voice, this song certainly achieves that.