You can dislike Taylor Swift, but you can’t dismiss the brilliance that goes into some of her pieces.
As a part of her eighth studio album, Folklore, Swift’s Mirrorball takes on multiple different meanings but ultimately speaks to the societal pressure people face to always have to be perfect.
A mirrorball as a physical object is a shining sphere that is held high on the ceiling for people to look at. Its purpose is to reflect light, glisten, and entertain those surrounding it.
In her extended metaphor, Swift says,
“I’m a mirrorball. I’ll show you every version of myself tonight.”
Society holds people to such a high standard that they feel pressure to always have to be on top of their game, whether that’s through a job or a relationship. In the spotlight, everyone knows everything about someone and judges them. A mirrorball is broken into a million pieces, but that’s what makes them shine. It has all eyes watching it. When the light comes off it, it is still on the ceiling doing its job, even when no one is watching.
“Hush, when no one is around, my dear. You’ll find me on my highest heels love, shining just for you,”
This is also representative of a celebrity feeling the pressure of the public’s eye and their expectations. When they break down, all eyes will be watching them. But when no one is watching, they’re still expected to be perfect.
A mirrorball is fragile, much like a person. Through her extended metaphor, I think Swift is shining light on how much the spotlight/pressure can break someone down. Even if they’re doing everything they can, it’s never good enough.
“spinnin in my highest heels.”
“I can change everything about me to fit in.”
This song resonates with me because I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself to do well. I don’t know if it’s because of playing competitive soccer for most of my life, but I am able to connect with the way Swift talks about pressure , internally and externally.
On December 10, 2020, Taylor Swift announced her 9th studio album, evermore; released at midnight as a “sister album” to folklore. Swift’s last few albums have departed from her own experiences and delved into those she’s crafted stories about and imagined. The song “champagne problems” is the second track on evermore, composed by Taylor Swift and William Bowery, who fans have pleasantly learned was the pseudonym for her adored boyfriend, Joe Alwyn. The knowledge of these lyrics having both a female, Swift, and male, Alwyn, perspective helps listeners better understand both parties in the song.
The story is set in a pristine estate, filled with family and friends who are anticipating a marriage proposal. Little do they know that the fiance-to-be will turn down her long-time lover. The song takes us through unrequited, lost love, the damage it causes and the hope that one day it can be mended. Mental illness is also touched on in this song which Swift has spoken out on, including her own battles with it.
You booked the night train for a reason
So you could sit there in this hurt
Bustling crowds or silent sleepers
You’re not sure which is worse
It’s clear in this first verse that someone is running away from something that has caused them tremendous hurt. Listeners learn that this is the person who was rejected. The first two lines suggest that they’re deeply ashamed, embarrassed and disheartened which is why they’re on the night train, fewer people, yet possibly knew all along that this would be the outcome. He was easily able to escape from the pitiful eyes of his loved ones by having this ticket. The last two lines, however, make it seem that he’s questioning whether being on a quiet train was the right decision because it allows him to wallow in his sorrows and contemplate everything.
Your mom’s ring in your pocket
My picture in your wallet
Your heart was glass, I dropped it
The narrator now takes us back to before her partner proposes to her and when he has the world or his future in his pockets. It’s certain that he’s intending to propose and not just that, but with his mother’s ring which illustrates how important she is to him. Additionally, he has a picture of her with him wherever he goes, driving the point of his love for her even further. The tone shifts in the third line because this is the moment when she denies the engagement. The narrator held his heart in her hands but ultimately shattered it, leaving him in despair and everyone else in utter shock. The last line and title of this song make reference to the problems and issues of the upper-class, nothing in comparison to what others face on a daily basis. Swift reiterates the line throughout the song, suggesting the ability to overcome the ordeal, yet not discounting the man’s feelings because this is probably the largest problem he’s faced so far.
One for the money, two for the show
I never was ready, so I watch you go
Sometimes you just don’t know the answer
‘Til someone’s on their knees and asks you
The first line dates back to a children’s rhyme and signifies a countdown. In this context, it might be the narrator counting down the time left with her ‘lover.’ In the second line, the narrator seems to allude to a battle that she’s had with herself for a long time, being mentally checked out and yearning to leave, but not physically being able to commit and take that step forward without him. She seems to get that clarity and strength when he finally proposes and she’s left with no other choice but to stay in a one-sided relationship or take that leap of faith despite all odds and voices surrounding her. In this story, the narrator makes a heartbreaking decision for all parties, but one that she believes is best for everyone in the long run.
But you’ll find the real thing instead
She’ll patch up your tapestry that I shred
The narrator essentially closes their relationship by ensuring her past lover that he will find someone who’s right for him and will say “yes” when he proposes. This new person will fix all of the cracks and fill all of the holes in his heart that the narrator left. She understands the situation she left him in and the sadness she caused and hopes this small piece of assurance will be enough.
This song, despite not having a happily ever after, leaves listeners wondering what could have been and what will be for these two characters. There are so many possibilities for both of them which is what happens when you close a chapter in your life.
“You’re On Your Own, Kid” is the fifth track on Taylor Swift’s newest studio album, Midnights. The song offers a vivid, though somewhat intangible, tale of growing up, which is interspersed with specific anecdotes that ground the song in a truly poetic way.
Opening the song, Swift sets the scene by singing “Summer went away/Still, the yearning stays.” This is an example of a technique Swift uses often, where she uses seasons and seasonal imagery to convey the passage of time. The idea of summer fading into fall signifies the passing of a phase in one’s life, and could be argued to allude to a summer romance mentioned in several of her other songs. In the second half of that stanza she continues: “I wait patiently/ He’s gonna notice me/ It’s okay, we’re the best of friends/ Anyway.” These lines sharpen the image of a young girl waiting for an anticipated dose of male attention, and even sacrificing her own emotional wellbeing in the interest of waiting for him to “notice her.” The tone is bittersweet as she longs for affection while simultaneously trying to grow up and realize herself.
Later, in the second stanza, Swift continues to narrate the disproportionate emotional labor done by a teenager with a crush: “I hear it in your voice/You’re smoking with your boys/I touch my phone as if it’s your face.” This scene conjures up an image of the narrator pining over this guy, while he is unaware of her pain simply living his life without her. The simile of her touching her phone “as if it’s your face” is an especially vivid image for gen-z teenagers: when your phone is your connection to someone you care about, it can sometimes feel like it takes on a greater significance as your link to them. Taylor goes on: “I didn’t choose this town/I dream of getting out/ There’s just one you could make me stay.” This part gives the listener more detail in their mental image of the pining teenager. She has big dreams far beyond her hometown, but her feelings for this boy who doesn’t value her are still holding her back.
Taylor continues the motif of seasons and images of growing up in the pre-chorus with the line “From sprinkler splashes to fireplace ashes.” These images show another transition from summer to winter, whereby sprinklers represent playing outside in summer and fireplaces represent winter. But at the same time, sprinkler splashes imply a certain youthfulness and fireplace ashes conjure a more mature image. Going a layer deeper, it could also be argued that a sprinkler splashing gives life and beginning while fireplace ash represents the end of something and what remains after a struggle. The repetition of this line adds a powerful meaning to the song about growing up and about the story of this girl letting go of the guy she pines for and finding her own identity.
She begins that process of letting him go in the next verse with, “I see the great escape/So long, Daisy May/I picked the petals, he loves me not/Something different bloomed/Writing in my room/I play my songs in the parking lot/I’ll run away.” Here Swift alludes to “Daisy May,” an innocent young girl who she feels she is leaving behind in order to realize her dreams. She then references an old childhood game little girls play, where you pick leaves off a flower and with each petal say “he loves me” then, “he loves me not” for the next petal. The phrase that lands on the last petal of the flower is supposed to tell the fortune of if a crush likes you back. Swift uses this allusion here to conjure up childlike innocence
while showing that the narrator, presumably Swift herself, has learned that she can’t make this man reciprocate her feelings. She then talks about writing and performing songs, showing that she has moved on to chasing her dream of being a singer-songwriter and realizing her own goals.
She then presumably throws herself into her career to a stressful extend, because by the next verse, after another “From sprinkler splashes to fireplace ashes” she narrates “I gave my blood, sweat, and tears for this/I hosted parties and starved my body/Like I’d be saved by a perfect kiss.” She has now poured everything she has into performing, only for it to destroy her in the process. She also comments on how she still craves male attention, to the extent of body image issues that cause her to starve herself. This sentiment is shared by many women trying to survive in an industry where their success is so often reliant on sexualization and male approval. She continues this idea in the next stanza with “The jokes weren’t funny, I took the money/My friends from home don’t know what to say” to show that she has given into some of the shadier parts of the music industry and feels like she’s lost herself in the process.
In the bridge, however, the song has a sort of volta where Swift transitions to talking about finding joy in life that both comes from within and focuses on what is happening in the moment. She sings: “‘‘Cause there were pages turned with the bridges burned/Everything you lose is a step you take/So make the friendship bracelets/Take the moment and taste it/You’ve got no reason to be afraid.” These lines mean that everything we lose and hurt ourselves with in the process of growing up is a learning experience that shapes our future. So the only real way to get through it is to focus on each day—to “take the moment and taste it.”
Swift closes the song with a last repetition of the chorus line and a closing statement: “You’re on your own, kid/Yeah, you can face this” This manta highlights that the maturity and self-realization she’s been narrating can only come from within, and no one else can do it for you.
For these reasons, the emotional journey this song takes the listener through is visceral in a way only poetry can be. To classify this work as anything else would be borderline disrespectful to its beautiful lyrical message.
Recording artist Brent Faiyaz’s debut album Sonder Son shows the harsh reality of the inevitable loss of innocence that everyone goes through in life. The word “Sonder” is a neologism and it translates to the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own. The whole album is based on this neologism, and how we respond to it throughout times in our life. The seventh song “L.A.” speaks about a specific part of people’s lives when they move to a new big city or place and try to make it into the career they’re chasing. And what often comes with moving to a big city is learning the new environment you’re now stuck in and how to survive on your own. “L.A.” speaks in the first person from Faiyaz’s experiences of being an up-and-coming R&B singer in Los Angeles and the struggles he’s going through while also expressing how he wouldn’t give it up for anything else.
The song begins with an introduction, “City of Angles, Land of God. The City of Demons, Looking for Us(2x).” Faiyaz begins by setting the tone for the rest of the song by saying how the “City of Demons” is looking for the “City of Angels” showing how Los Angeles is composed of good and bad people. The song immediately separates people into categories already showing how different people are compared to each other. Next, he sings, “L.A., L.A., The Place of All Places. Drug use and dark faces can make or break you.” Faiyaz is explaining how even though Los Angeles is the most popular city in the world and people make it big here, you can still be brought into dark times by bad people trying to use you for your new fame. But even still, knowing the risks he chose to achieve his goal of making it big in music.
When Faiyaz later sings, “Yeah, I’m proud that I’m chasing something. ‘Cause I don’t know better than being broke, bored, and back at home.” He wants people to understand that he chose this life of nothing but drugs, violence, and money willingly all for the intoxicating feeling of chasing his music dreams. This status that Faiyaz is chasing can only be attained through hard work and dealing with the good and bad people in your life. He then sings “But oh, what a feeling (How it feels). Oh, what a thrill (You will kill). To look down from these hills. Put the life I knew behind.” Faiyaz is expressing that the life he’s chasing consists of so much excitement and thrill that people would “kill” for his position. This balance between danger and fame is exactly what Faiyaz was chasing from early on in his career. The lyrical phrase, “to look down from these hills,” is to refer how Faiyaz has made it to the top and is looking down on all the people who haven’t made it to fame yet. However, fame means a lot of people are going to come into your life and some of them will be bad. Towards the end when Faiyaz sings, “And everybody wanna know me, Just to say you own me,” he means people want to be friendly with him just to get some of his fame. Fake people in Los Angeles are coming for him to take some of his fame like leeches sucking him dry. Overall, the song expresses Faiyaz’s emotions and events going on while he pursues his career. While doing so he is learning that everyone around him lives a vastly different life with very different goals and he has to cope with this feeling of being alone because he is so different but also there is a feeling of being together because we are all so different together.
Paper Bag by Fiona Apple is an aching song about struggle and subsequent disappointment, inspired by an actual moment in which Apple thought she saw a dove in the sky but it ended up being a plastic bag. The song quickly became a hit, resonating particularly with young women struggling with their mental health and earning Apple a Grammy nomination, and for good reason.
I was having a sweet fix of a daydream of a boy Whose reality I knew, was a-hopeless to be had But then the dove of hope began its downward slope And I believed for a moment that my chances Were approaching to be grabbed But as it came down near, so did a weary tear I thought it was a bird, but it was just a paper bag
We start out by being thrust into the image that inspired Apple to write this wong in this in the first place. The bird represents a lot of things here but namely hope. Historically, in literature, birds have represented hope and love for those who see them, and at the moment before realization of what it really is, Apple finds comfort and hope in this image, only to have that crushed when reality hits. Her unnamed lover is also represented by the perceived bird; it seems like he’s great at first but when they get closer, it’s clear that everything that seemed great about him was just a misguided daydream. Apple even admits before this that she knows he is hopeless but still clings to that chance. The use of “sweet fix” is also particularly powerful as it conveys the weight of her almost obsessive feelings–these daydreams are like a drug to her even if she knows they are hopeless.
Hunger hurts and I want him so bad, oh, it kills ‘Cause I know I’m a mess he don’t wanna clean up I got to fold cause these hands are too shaky to hold Hunger hurts, but starving works When it costs too much to love
In the past, around the release date of this song, Apple publicly spoke about her issues with eating disorders, another prevalent aspect of this song. Starving oneself is an act of trying to exert control over your life even though it ends up killing. In Paper Bag, Apple is resigned to the fact that she will feel pain in her current situation no matter what she does or who she brings into her life, so she may as well have a semblance of control. It’s almost as if she’s more drawn to this situation’s struggle with control than this unnamed interest. The use of the word “starving” in this song could be a more literal reference to food, which would definitely explain the shaking hands, or it could be something more abstract like being starved of comfort and love.
I said, “Honey, I don’t feel so good, don’t feel justified Come on put a little love here in my void,” He said “It’s all in your head,” And I said, “So’s everything” but he didn’t get it I thought he was a man but he was just a little boy
The last line of this verse is also the literal version of what Apple means when she previously spoke about the bird and the paper bag; she thought this man could be hope but he’s really just another disappointment. This verse is also about trying to fill the metaphorical void by surrounding yourself with people who you think will soothe your pain but ultimately end up disappointing you. Apple is searching for a balm for an ever-aching wound, specifically in a man who will do nothing more than disappoint her and not understand her jokes. Despite this, she still finds herself hungry for love, starved for it even when it’s hopeless from the start.
TW: Depression and suicide. Bright Eyes songs are quite recognizable for one reason: their deep lyrics that seem to transport the listener into a unique moment and allow them to fully experience it. Like any poet, Conor Oberst allows his audience to feel as if they are one with the song they listen to. “Cleanse Song” is no exception to this, but a rather recognizable and powerful example of Oberst’s poetic nature.
“Cleanse Song”, as implied by it’s title, discusses a cleanse and rebirth of the narrator, specifically on the narrator’s journey of sobriety. The song begins quite chaotically,
See the new Pyramids down in old Manhattan
From the roof of a friend I watched an empire ending
Head it loud and long, the river’s song
Time marching on, to a mad man’s drum
Immediately, the listener is thrown into the chaos of New York City. One can feel the city moving quickly around them, and feel as the speaker feels stuck and left behind from the development while struggling with addiction. Quickly, the speaker begins to acknowledge that they need to make a change,
And if life seems absurd
What you need is some laughter
And a season to sleep
And a place to get clean
Maybe Los Angeles
These lines feel very honest and raw. The listener has finally accepted that their current life is holding them back from reaching sobriety. For many struggling with addiction, a change of location and even leaving behind an entire community that might remind you of your addiction can be a completely. The tone is also completely different from the first set of lyrics, which feel chaotic. Now, the tone is calmer as the speaker is coming up with a plan to get sober. The following two stanzas are perhaps the most powerful in the song:
On a detox walk
Over Glendale Park
Over sidewalk chalk
Some rope read “start over”
So I muffle my scream
On an Oxnard beach
Full of fever dreams that scare me sober
First off, the lines provide a physical location for the audience, both Glendale Park and an Oxnard beach, both locations in California showing that the speaker made the move and is also progressing on his journey to sobriety. The rope the speaker sees on his walk is very multi-dimensional. It physically tells him to start over, which to a struggling and recovering addict could be taken as a sign to continue going sober and push through the difficulties or to relapse, showing the constant battle that anyone who has had to quit something addictive has faced. Furthermore, the rope could also be taken as a symbol of the speakers depression and suicidal feelings. A rope is commonly used to represent someone ending their own life, so it’s appearance on the speaker’s walk could also reveal his struggle to stay alive. The themes of depression are further developed in the following stanza, where the speaker is screaming on a beach while facing ‘fever dreams’. When going through withdrawals, flashbacks and painful memories can be common. This is often why many people attempting sobriety quit. By saying that these ‘fever dreams’ scare the speaker sober, the speaker reveals that his past addiction was such a dark time that even the troubles he is facing while going sober are not going to scare him into relapse.
At first glance, the calming melody and title of “Cleanse Song” make the song appear to be a soothing song about beginning again. However, when the poetic lyrics are examined closer, a darker story of a man struggling with depression and addiction is revealed, with lyrics alluding to suicide and the cycle of substance abuse. The poetic songwriting allows for the multi dimensions of the song to shine through and heavy themes to be explored.
Throughout his career, Donald Glover’s various works serve as significant critiques of societies long-lasting, or profound effects on humanity. Under the musical persona of ChildishGambino, specifically on his second major studio album Because the Internet, Glover is able to unpack the animalistic behavior stemming from the dehumanizing nature of social media and the internet. Despite sounding on the surface like a traditional 21st century hip-hop track, his song “II. Worldstar” follows the albums central character, “the boy,” losing his sense of humanity, being consumed by his obsession of the idea of temporary internet stardom, using the popular mid 2010’s social media app Worldstar to do so, hence the name of the song. Through Gambino’s metaphorical lyricism, along with interludes from his brother, Glover gives the listener a sense of the consuming nature one experiences by attempting to achieve online fame.
I’m more or less a moral-less individual Making movies with criminals, tryin’ to get them residuals
Within the first verse, Gambino is able to establish the boy’s fall to the captivating force of the internet, detailing how his time spent trolling internet goers on previous tracks of the album has led him to being less more or less a “moral-less” person than what he once was. Furthermore, within these two lines, Glover is able to display the crude motives of the boy, emphasizing his desperation to make money by filming fights with criminals through Worldstar.
When I hear that action, I’ma be Scorsese My nigga, hold it horizontal, man, be a professional Damn, my nigga, be a professional, what you doing, man?
Later in the first verse, Donald inserts a metaphor between the boy and Martin Scorsese in order to emphasize the boy’s enjoyment and excitement on recording fights on Worldstar that he deems to be on par with action movies directed by Martin Scorsese. He then couples this metaphor with the interjection of his brother Steve G. Lover demanding the boy to hold the phone horizontally as to seem more professional and to capture the maximum footage of the fight possible, upping their chances at a viral video.
Let me flash on ’em, we all big brother now
Towards the end of the second verse, Gambino further emphasizes how upon exposing those in physical confrontation to a flashlight from a phone or a device, it makes the person recording a sort of omnipresent force, giving them full control of the privacy of those in the altercation, essentially making them “Big Brother.”
[Interlude: Steve G. Lover] Yo, bro, man, check out that video I just sent you, man This shit is hilarious, man, it’s like this kid, man, he got like sh– He got like hit on the side of the head, man, he’s like freakin’ out Like, heh, it’s like he think he completely lost blood and shit Hahaha, it’s hilarious, man…
Finally, proceeding the outro of the song, Glover introduces a second interlude from his brother, detailing the comedy in a Worldstar video he saw online. This final stanza is used to emphasize the overall theme of the corruption the internet brings in regards to overall humility in reacting to the violence portrayed on social media.
Time after time again, Brent Faiyaz has created music that truly feels like a dream. So Far Gone, from his album Sonder Son, stands out most though. Faiyaz writes the story of how during his teenage years, he disregarded his family and school and the effect that, that had on his family. The beginning of his song starts with the perspective of his mother:
You say you trust us But don’t pick the phone up Act like we mean something to you I know you doing you I called your brother on the land-line He said you ain’t never got no down time You always working so late Hope that you safe Your family been missing you, you come ‘gon back this way?
Faiyaz then uses a switch to his perspective to show how he understands his mother’s concerns but that he feels lost in his life. The perspective changes really help show this experience because the listeners get to hear how his teenage years truly were, not just from the mind of a high school kid.
But out here baby boy’s so far gone Lord knows I ain’t been home in so long Game so deep and the drinks so strong And I don’t trust no one at all
This stanza shows Faiyaz almost responding to what his mother had said previously. The first line shows him recognizing his mother’s concerns as he is her “baby boy”. In the second and third lines, he acknowledges how he hasn’t been home in a while but that the life he has now won’t allow it. Then in the last line, he refers to her saying that he’d said he trusted them (his family) and he admits that he doesn’t trust anyone at all.
Faiyaz’s mother’s perspective is shown once again in part two of the song. This time, it’s her speaking to him, almost warning him that they don’t have much time left and that it’s up to him to reconnect with his family.
It won’t be too long Till I’m not here to say how much you mean to me One day I won’t be too long I want you to stay strong Cause it won’t be too long
Faiyaz repeats “it won’t be too long” to reiterate his mother’s warning to him. For me, it also provided a lot of imagery because you can really picture his mom in a kind of calm desperation of just wanting to see her son while also wanting the best for him.
This one’s for my child, my child
I’ll see you in your dreams tonight
This one here for my child, my child
I’ll see you in your dreams tonight…
At the end of the song, Faiyaz leaves listeners questioning what happened next. The aspect of his mother seeing him in his dreams could be alluding to death or that Faiyaz was simply too far gone…
Brent Faiyaz always manages to create poetic music. It’s undeniable that “So Far Gone/Fast Life Bluez” could be compared to any poem if not be considered a poem itself. He used imagery, repetition, and change in perspective, similar to techniques that “normal” poets use to convey their writing. In addition, his writing style and flow throughout the song make an extreme impression. “So Far Gone” is definitely my favorite poem!
Cool It Now is a hit song from the 1980’s by the band New Edition. When I first listened to this I instantly knew why it was a hit song. From the catchy beat and the amazing usage of words telling a story of the lead singer Ralph and his obsession with a girl. With his friends trying to keep him in check the song creates a poetic feature of how Ralph wants to live his life.
My friends say I'm love sick 'cause I
All I keep thinking about is her in my arms
(Got to see what love is all about)
And I won't be the same until she is mine
And my friends keep telling me to
This is the speaker or Ralph speaking about how his friends think that he is in love and he doesn’t know what he is doing. But in reality he does and he is just really attracted to a girl. With the fact that he is telling himself that he wants to get with this girl really bad and that he won’t be the same without her. Which is a multidimensional aspect of the story because his physical relationship would start with a woman. While achieving the mental aspect of winning the girl he has been desiring and really wanted to get with.
Cool it now
You got to cool it now
Oh watch out
You're gonna lose control
Cool it now
You better slow it down
Slow it down
You're gonna lose control
This section is right after the first stanza of the song which is the one above. This section is the chorus of all Ralphs friends and telling him to cool it and be cool. But also at the same time trying to get him to not fall in love because he is so young. As well as what he says later in the song as trying to control his life and what he does. It could be some type of jealousy but it is defensibly his friends just looking out for him because he is so obsessed with the girl.
Why you all coming down on me
Tryin' to tell me how my life is supposed to be
I know you're only trying to help me out
Tryin' to show me what life is really about
But this time I'm gonna make it on my own
So why dontcha fellaz just leave me alone
Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky and Mike
If I like the girl who cares who you like
This is towards the end of the song and it cuts back to Ralph and him explaining that he can make his own decisions. By telling his friends that he has it under control and that he wants to try to get with this girl. And he tells them that he knows they are trying to help but he has it on his own. Also naming all of them showing that he cares about this girl and doesn’t care what his friends have to say or what they like in general when it comes to the girl he wants.
Altogether, the band New Edition makes an amazing song that is definitely a poem through the powerful messages and the way it was created with the diction together and really gives us an understanding of a young life and being able to cool it.
Harry Styles’ first ever released album, Harry Styles, includes his poetically genius song “Sign of the Times” as the second track. His debut album explores his mix of angst, frustration, and wonder about the future after his band separated and he became a solo artist. This album was released in 2017, but he released “Sign of the Times” earlier as a debut solo, and to this day, he sings it at every concert even after releasing two other albums.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, he revealed that the song was about the fundamentals of life, such as struggles of equality, race, and rights in our world, and is written from the point of view as if a mother was giving birth, and although the child would be fine, she was not going to make it. Through the song, Styles touches on his belief that it is not the first time the world has been through a hard time, and it is not going to be the last. In his lyrics, he uses the story of the mother being told she will die, but her child will survive to show that the mother is aware and saddened that her child is being born into a troubled world, but that they will meet again. This song is about the mother using her last breaths to tell her child to go forth and conquer, in her last five minutes of living.
“Just stop your crying, it’s a sign of the times”
In this opening line, we can assume that the baby comes out crying, therefore symbolizing the message that the child knows he or she was born into a troubled world, and the mother is affirming this to the child. The “sign of the times” are the troubling events that are occurring in the world, which shows Harry’s frustration with the state of the world and that it is a sinister place. The mother telling the baby to stop crying is a symbol of reassurance, that bad things happen in the world, but it will all be fine.
“Why are we always stuck and running from/The bullets?/The bullets”
These lines seem to show the mother talking to herself, questioning why the world is the way it is. Styles also is getting at the idea that we have overcome hard times before, and that we just have to push through them, like the child needs to push past this moment with the mother, and how we cannot be afraid of the world nor try to escape what is happening. The significance of the repetition of the bullets throughout the song shows that there is always something wrong occurring in the world, and it can metaphorically be seen as the things that come into our lives that we cannot stop from happening, like the mother finding out she will die after the birth. The bullets themselves can also be interpreted to represent the hardships of the world, so Styles uses that to convey the mother’s concern for the world she birthed her child into.
“Remember everything will be alright/We can meet again somehwere/Somewhere far away from here”
These lines are introduced in the middle of the song, and the mother is telling the baby that it is only the end for now and that they will meet again. It can also be inferred that Styles is making a reference to his ex-band here (what most of his fans like to think), meaning that they will meet again sometime in the future. However, his clever use of anadiplosis in these lines causes the listener to focus on where the mother and baby will meet and be able to be happy together.
All in all, the Harry Styles fandom seems to have many different interpretations of this song, such as his love for an old band member of his, but the song has much more meaning. Styles himself said it was the song with the most personal lyrics to him and his feelings about the inequality in our world.
The namesake of Pink Floyd’s ninth studio album, “Wish You Were Here” is one of five songs on the English rock band’s concept album released in September, 1975. Wish You Were Here was the first album released by Pink Floyd following lead guitarist Syd Barrett’s departure as a result of mental health and drug abuse problems. In response to Barrett’s leave, band-members and songwriters Roger Waters and David Gilmour dedicated their next album to him, with heartfelt slow-burns such as “Shine on You Crazy Diamond” reminiscing over the camaraderie that was lost amidst Barrett’s absence. While the song “Wish You Were Here” may have been written an ode to Syd Barrett, over the years the lyrics have merited a more universal interpretation of it as a documentation of the loss of innocence and the changing outlook on the world as one ages.
So, so you think you can tell Heaven from hell? Blue skies from pain? Can you tell a green field From a cold steel rail? A smile from a veil? Do you think you can tell?
In the first stanza of the song, the speaker ponders on one’s ability to distinguish between juxtaposing ideas, such as heaven and hell or blue skies and pain. The juxtaposing words have positive and and negative connotations; heaven, blue skies, green fields, and smiles are all associated with happiness and hopefulness, whereas hell, pain, cold steel rails, and veils are more representative of uncertainty, punishment, and disappointment. The speaker employs these juxtaposing ideas in order to show that to some people, these ideas are not so back and white. Especially as children, many have naive outlooks on the world, blurring the lines between things that are considered good and bad. Even into adulthood some people choose to remain ignorant in difficult situations, rather than have their hopeful outlook on the world shattered. It would seem that the speaker is addressing their past self through reflection and reconsideration of what they had once falsely thought to be “heaven” or “blue skies”.
Did they get you to trade Your heroes for ghosts? Hot ashes for trees? Hot air for a cool breeze? Cold comfort for change? Did you exchange A walk-on part in the war For a leading role in a cage?
In the second stanza, the speaker shifts from asking questions about distinguishing between emotions to pondering over the loss of innocence over time. Continuing the theme of juxtaposing ideas, the speaker compares soothing, warm thoughts with cold, uncomfortable ones. The loss of innocence is often associated with a changing, increasingly negative outlook on the world. The line “Your heroes for ghosts” is an example of the loss of innocence through the idealization of things as children which transitions to pragmatism and acceptance of reality when one gets older. Heroes, in this case, are symbolic of the glorified and magnificent world seen by children, whereas the ghosts are symbolic of these dreams crushed by reality. Change is also an effect of the loss of innocence. To have to trade “cold comfort for change” is often a result of growing older, since as age increases the weight of responsibility does as well. To continue the theme of loss of innocence, the line “A walk-on part in the war/ For a leading role in a cage” represents the shift from the glamorized idea of hardship as a young person to the suffocating reality of it as an older person. Through this stanza, the speaker expresses the loss of innocence as a result of trading realism for romanticism.
How I wish, how I wish you were here We’re just two lost souls Swimming in a fish bowl Year after year Running over the same old ground What have we found? The same old fears Wish you were here
In the final stanza of the song, the speaker reveals their gradual understanding of the ways of the world. While the speaker used to view the word as gloriously full of opportunity, they have reached a point in which they’ve found that life is merely tedious, confining, and repetitive. By using metaphors comparing the speaker and the audience to lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, the speaker connotes the idea that human beings are trapped by the degrading nature of life. Despite changing and aging, the speaker finds them-self confined to the same situation as they had before. In the final line, “Wish you were here” the speaker expresses their desire for their past self to return so that they can regain a little bit of the innocence that they have lost.
In effect, “Wish You Were Here” takes the listener not only on a journey into the speaker’s loss of innocence, but also forces the listener to reflect over their own outlook on life. This song dispels any romantic idea of life, causing the listener to reconsider their own heroes, blue skies, and cold comfort.
Mac Miller is a rap artist who died in 2018 due to drug overdose. I could argue all of his songs are poetic, but “2009”, from his album “Swimming”, has the most poetic features in my opinion.
The song “2009” connects to his death and drug use through the lyrics and rhymes used. The song is slow and features a lot of instrumentals like violin and piano which gives it a heartfelt feel.
First, the rhyming is really emphasized in this song as shown in this verse.
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
In addition to the rhyming, the repetition of the line “it ain’t 2009 no more” adds to the poetic feel of the song and makes the listener think about the significance of that year to his life and what happened to make that year stand out. The significance of that year isn’t pinpointed at anything specific, but the listener can make some guesses based on his life. I think writing about a year or a specific time in one’s life is poetic and seen in many poems.
He then uses more rhyming to reference some of his personal issues with drugs.
Yeah, they ask me what I'm smilin' for
Well, because I've never been this high before
It's like I never felt alive before
Mhmm, I'd rather have me peace of mind than war
He also references the struggles of fame.
And sometimes, sometimes I wish I took a simpler route
Instead of havin' demons that's as big as my house, mhmm
Have a ball with a dribble and bounce
'Cause the party ain't over 'til they're kickin' me out, yeah
Isn't it funny? We can make a lot of money
Buy a lot of things just to feel a lot of ugly
Using more rhyme here, he addresses the beauty that having a simple life can bring and the struggles that come with fame. 2009 was right before his release of one of his most popular albums, “Kids”. During this time he was definitely famous.
Althogether, Mac Miller takes us through his life in the year 2009 through powerful verses and intense instrumental, making his song a poem.
The song “Dylan Thomas” by Better Oblivion Community Center, a band comprised of singer-songwriters Pheobe Bridgers and Conor Oberst appears in the band’s self-titled and only album. Bridgers and Oberst are known to have been long-time friends and partners in the music industry and although both contributed to lyrics for this song and others on the album, this particular song was written by mainly Oberst. This song encapsulates the feeling of knowing catastrophe is coming but not being able to do anything about it. Oberst and Bridgers use the combined circumstances of existing during the Trump administration and being overcome with addiction to portray this feeling. Bridgers herself is known to reference current events and popular media in her writing and this song follows that form. The song itself has many references to the poet Dylan Thomas with the first line being,
It was quite early one morning
This is a reference to Thomas’s collection of prose titled “Quite Early One Morning”. Bridgers and Oberst use Thomas, infamously an alcoholic, to portray the idea of addiction. They write,
So sick of being honest
I’ll die like Dylan Thomas
A seizure on the barroom floor
Im strapped into a corset
Climbed into your corvette
Im thristy for another drink
These lines explain to the listener how the speaker is tired of trying to get better and would prefer to die in a similar manner to Thomas, who famously drank himself to death at 39. This furthers the feeling of doom the speaker is trying to portray in the way that they know there is no hope for the future and going out with a bang seems easier. The second section also portrays this idea, the speaker feels they are living a life that simply repeats itself over and over in a mundane way, despite knowing that disaster is coming. Similarly, Oberst and Bridgers write,
If it’s advertised we’ll try it
And buy some peace and quiet
And shut up at the silent retreat
As well as,
I’m getting used to these dizzy spells
I’m taking a shower at the Bates motel
The first section is referencing rehab, which is constantly advertised through media and the speaker seems to be going along with the idea of getting help, but in the second section, it is clear that the speaker does not wish to get help because it feels hopeless in a world in which you know the disaster is coming anyway. This is portrayed by the last line, which is another reference to popular media, in which a character from the movie “Psycho” is stabbed in the shower at the Bates motel. This is referencing the idea that the speaker is willingly going to “shower at the Bates motel” or doing something they know is going to bring on disaster because nothing seems to matter anymore. It is also clear that the speaker simply wishes to continue on with the life they live as they are “getting used to these dizzy spells” alluding to the fact that they are comfortable with their addiction and would rather continue to live with it than get help.
Along with the idea of addiction Bridgers and Oberst also use this song to make commentary on the Trump administration and the feeling of hopelessness it brought many Americans. They write,
Starved for entertainment
Four seasons, a revolving door
This is a reference to the Four Seasons landscaping company where the Trump administration held a press conference, instead of the Four Seasons resort. This along with the first line explain how the speaker is so baffled that an administration such as Trumps could be running the country, and how they feel the world is simply “starved for entertainment” as in it doesn’t seem that anyone else is as concerned with the state of the government as the speaker is. Bridgers and Oberst continue this by writing,
These talking heads keep saying
The king is only playing
A game of four dimensional chess
This section is a reference to news reporters or “talking heads” speaking about the Trump administration. The speaker is emphasizing the feeling of being controlled, knowing that there is nothing they can do about the state of the government or their addicition but they have to continue, feeling like a pawn in a chess game. The feeling of despair and fear that the speaker feels is encompassed by Oberst and Bridgers in the line,
They say you gotta fake it
At least until you make it
That ghost is just a kid in a sheet
The speaker is emphasizing how their addiction and feelings of despair play out in such a way that they feel as if they must put on a happy face. The speaker also understands that while they are suffering they know that the world is in crisis and thier fears and problems are not as important or “that ghost is just a kid in a sheet” which is also a refrence to Bridgers solo work which fetures imagry of children weaing ghost costumes.
While not the original version of this song, Fugees (featuring Lauryn Hill) does a solid version of “Killing Me Softly With His Song”. While featured on their album, The Score, this song not only conveys musicality but lyricism as well through its poetic lines.
The song presents the story of a woman who has heard a lot about a musician so she goes and sees him. The musician sings a song which she feels very deeply connected to. The lines “strumming my pain with his fingers/ Singing my life with his words” use the guitar as a metaphor for her pain as she watched this boy sing. The boy’s song “tugs on her heart strings” as some like to say. This metaphor establishes a spiritual connection between the woman and the boy’s playing. It exemplifies how music can deeply affect people and songs can resonate with people differently. The lines “Killing me softly with his song/ Telling my whole life with his words” also connects to this theme. She is being “killed” by his song because she resonates with it so much that it is bringing up feelings from the past that she doesn’t want to experience again and are causing her pain. The line “I felt he found my letters and read each one out loud” enforces how even though she had never met the musician and vice versa they had experienced something similar and he had sung about it and so she feels exposed and as though he knows her internal thoughts and feelings. All of this contributes to a deeper meaning of being so touched by something that it physically hurts. Additionally, it conveys the message that art can be used to communicate things that are difficult to speak about and share stories.
Because “Killing Me Softly With His Song” has a deeper meaning, striking lyrics, and uses literary devices, I would argue that it is poetry. However, ultimately I think that art is up for interpretation.
“Immortal” is written by J Cole, also known as Jermaine Lamarr Cole, for his 2016 album “4 Your Eyez Only”. The song follows a 17 year old struggling to resist selling drugs. For most of the album J Cole raps from the point of view of his friend, James, who was a drug dealer. The song expresses the weight that death has from both J Cole’s friends perspective as a dealer and from his own view as an artist. The opening four lines of the song touch on the initial attractiveness of dealing drugs.
Now I was barely seventeen with a pocket full of hope Screamin’ “dollar and a dream” with my closet lookin’ broke And my nigga’s lookin’ clean, gettin’ caught up with that dope Have you ever served a fiend with a pocket full of soap?
J Cole opens the song with this in order to introduce the conflict that dealing drugs creates. It can get people out of poverty, however it can also get people killed or thrown in jail. That’s why in the first line he says “pocket full of hope” referring to his pockets being full of drugs and those drugs are his hope to make it out. He continues on to say, “Screamin’ ‘dollar and a dream’ with my closet looking broke” furthering the fact that he is broke and with the drugs are going to help him fulfill his dreams because in the next line he says that his friends who are dealers are “lookin’ clean” while his closet is “looking broke”. These three line show how and why he got into dealing and the influence that his environment had on him. The song then transitions into a much darker tone and begins to talk about the trauma and death that followed him down his path with the line “have you ever served a fiend with a pocket full of soap”. This pain and trauma is illustrated in the lines
Numb the pain ’cause it’s hard for a felon In my mind I been cryin’, know it’s wrong but I’m sellin’ Eyes wellin’ up with tears Thinkin’ ’bout my niggas dead in the dirt Immortalized on this shirt
He has to ignore the pain that has built up inside of him after he chose to walk the path of a dealer because he has no other option as “it’s hard for a felon” to get a job, buy a house or do much of anything. The line also refers to the police being hard on felons as earlier he says “keep watch for the cops/God they love to serve a nigga three hots and a cot” showing that he is constantly on the lookout for cops that “love” to give them time. In the end he can’t control the pain as his eyes are “wellin’ up with tears” while he’s “thinkin’ ’bout my niggas dead in the dirt”. The gravity of death is something no one is prepared to hold. He tries to keep in the tears as he says “in my mind I been cryin'” however in the next line his eyes are filled with tears as the weight of death comes crashing down on him. later in the song J Cole himself shares his attitude towards death saying
‘Cause they only feel you after you gone, or I’ve been told And now I’m caught between bein’ heard and gettin’ old Damn, death creepin’ in my thoughts lately My one wish in this bitch, “Make it quick if the Lord take me” I know nobody meant to live forever anyway
J Cole references Jay-Z many times through this son however the first line of this stanza “‘Cause they only feel you after you gone, or I’ve been told” is pulled from when Jay-Z said “They say ‘They never really miss you ‘til you dead or you gone.’”. J Cole feels that he won’t be heard and his words won’t be understood until he is dead and that is reflected in the next line when he says “And now I’m caught between bein’ heard and gettin’ old” with being heard meaning that if he dies now he will be heard and understood but if he grows old his message will be forgotten and he won’t have the impact that he desired. He then talks about how death has been on his mind recently showing the weight that it has put on him. He then wishes that if death were to come for him, that it would be quick and painless as he has seen the impact that it has on people including himself.
In the Sun, by Joseph Arthur is a song created for hurricane Katrina relief efforts. I believe the song has many interpretations and means something different to everyone. Some believe the song is about depression, faith, suicide, or a breakup. Personally, I think the song combines many elements to convey the difficulty of understanding one’s own purpose in life.
The song begins:
I picture you in the sun wondering what went wrong
And falling down on your knees asking for sympathy
And being caught in between all you wish for and all you seen
And trying to find anything you can feel that you can believe in
The narrator has just broken up a relationship with someone he feels deeply about. He pictures her ‘in the sun,’ symbolizing knowledge of the world- She opened his eyes to his own self on his journey to discover himself:
Cause when you showed me myself, you know, I became someone else
It was the girl’s knowledge that allowed him to see himself and ‘become someone else’. It was at this point he understood he must accept who he truly is or become someone who he is not. To avoid the guilt of the effect his dilemma would have on the girl, he decides to continue on his own. Speaking to God, he says,
Maybe you’re not even sure
What it’s for
Anymore than me
May God’s love be with you
The narrator finds that not even God can explain the complexity of life. The line ‘May God’s love be with you’ speaks to a saying that provided him with no substance or answers.
If I find my own way
How much will I find?
The narrator began his story with the line ‘And trying to find anything you can feel that you can believe in.’ He wishes for someone or something to tell him what to feel and believe. However, in the last two lines, he ultimately questions if he will ever discover who he is. To end, he repeats the line ‘May God’s love be with you’ to suggest that he will never know.
Kim Taeyeon, known mononymously as Taeyeon, is the leader and main vocalist of the K-Pop group Girls’ Generation. Since their debut in 2007, Girls’ Generation/SNSD (abbreviation of their Korean name, Sonyeo Sidae) has become one of South Korea’s most iconic and influential music groups and has garnered the title of “The Nation’s Girl Group” in their home country. Taeyeon has also made a career as a solo artist. Having her own voice without the other members has helped fans recognize her talent more, and she has a signature sound outside of the group setting. With numerous awards for being the best female artist and solo performer in the country, Taeyeon has become one of the most successful singers in all of K-Pop.
On October 7, 2015, Taeyeon made her official solo debut with the EP I. At a duration of just over 22 minutes, the EP features 5 songs and an instrumental. The EP’s single is called “I” and carries a vibrant, pop-rock sound. The first verse is a feature from South Korean rapper Verbal Jint, and Taeyeon’s vocals power the remainder of the song.
“I” is a song about Taeyeon freeing herself from the hardships and struggles in life by dreaming and connecting herself to music. The lyrics are very powerful, and along with the strong instrumental, “I” is a complete package that combines all aspects of poetry and music to create something beautiful.
Sky that pours light I stand under it As if I’m dreaming, fly My life is a beauty
The chorus is short but makes an impact. The lyrics are translated from Korean, but you can still see the meaning behind it. Taeyeon is saying that the feeling of dreams makes darkness go away and frees your soul. It’s spiritual liberation through dreaming. She feels a sense of relief in her dreams like she can do anything and be anyone. This chorus is used 3 times during the song and is like a recurring message throughout the song’s story.
Yeah, a story I’ve heard often somewhere Ugly duckling and swan, a butterfly before it flies People don’t know, they don’t see your wings A new world you’ve met could be cruel But strong girl, you know you were born to fly The tears you’ve cried, all of the pain you’ve felt It’s to prepare you for the day you’ll fly even higher, butterfly Everybody’s gonna see it soon
Verbal Jint’s verse takes place after the powerful opening chorus. He is referring to Taeyeon during his verse and talks almost motivationally. The metaphor of opening your wings and flying fits very well with the song and its theme. The line, “The tears you’ve cried, all of the pain you’ve felt. It’s to prepare you for the day you’ll fly even higher, butterfly” adds that motivational tone that Verbal Jint is displaying here. Overall, the rap feature in the first verse is great and helps drive the song’s theme and tone.
Forgottеn dream, I draw it again in my heart Collect all of the times I withdrew and swallow it, eh Small memories wake me up one by one It opens me up, as if it’ll fill the whole world Past the long, long night Want to embark on the road for a trip again Why not? In this world, one word awakens my heart
Taeyeon sings the second verse and does so in a very storytelling way. This verse is about the dream and how much Taeyeon wants it. She always longs for the journey in her head, and it sort of helps her reach nirvana. In the line, “It opens me up, as if it’ll fill the whole world” is very strong in the context. The memories of the dream are the only thing making her life and she tries to live in that dream. The “one word” in the final line is dream.
Yesterday, I was alone, countless gazes Falling tears, I withstood another day again Yesterday, that was a close call, all of the words that poured out It embraced me, who was shaking, again, it embraced me
The pre-chorus briefly speaks about the day-to-day struggles in her life and how the darkness can sometimes overwhelm and oppress her. Throughout the song, she is finding nirvana, but the pre-chorus contradicts that point, visualizing her falling back into the darkness. The storytelling in “I” has a great amount of quality for a three-and-a-half minute song.
Flower petals wilt I had difficult times, but followed a small light (But followed a small light) Distant day, let it go far, far away I fly splendidly
The bridge represents Taeyeon coming to acceptance in her life. Through her struggles, she fought through and let herself fly again. For a song/poem, “I” does a lot and has a whole structure of finding an obstacle, losing the fight, and finally overcoming it.
Sky that pours light Renewed eyes Fly far away Beauty that belongs only to me The moment I close my eyes Time stops I rise again
The final chorus and outro go along together. It’s about Taeyeon finally reaching her destination/goal. She freed herself from her unhappiness and struggles in life and metaphorically took a leap of faith and flew her wings. “I” is a very poetic song. Poetry doesn’t always need to rhyme, it just needs to tell a story. Taeyeon’s first solo was her best in my opinion, but she has a very great portfolio of stories about life, love, and all in between. In a music industry where a lot of music is written by big music agencies rather than the artists themselves, it is refreshing to see artists have their own stories about something close to them. Taeyeon has struggled with depression in the past, and music is her way of being free. Overall, Taeyeon is one of the most talented singers/songwriters out there and is super underrated because she lives an ocean away. “I” is one of the best and most poetic songs out there, and Taeyeon deserves more attention.
The song “Silhouette” comes from Aquilo’s album Silhouettes, it’s the namesake song of the album piecing together the story of the artists’ beginnings being told. Though Aquilo put out different EPs prior reflecting the same style, Silhouettes was the debut album of the band released in 2017. Silhouette is the opening track of the album portraying life as different memories and old identities compiling into one experience. When listening to the song the confusion and loss of being unable to really know what their life has been or will become is evident while still hoping everything will turn out alright.
I can remember being nothin' but fearless and young
We've become echoes, but echoes, they fade away
These opening lyrics to the song show the reflection on past relationships and memories, the “echos” mentioned representing the wanting to hold onto who they were and what they had while the “fading” represents the knowing of not being able to hold onto everything once possessed as the artists grow in their careers.
(I heard you say)
The devil's on your shoulder, strangers in your head
As if you don't remember, as if you can forget
It's only been a moment
It's only been a lifetime
But tonight you're a stranger
The chorus explains the change others have seen in the pair and also the things they knew becoming distant. The feeling of becoming unrecognizable to people they once knew and unrecognizable to even themselves is heavy, leaving behind things familiar. These “silhouettes” they mention represent the haunting of these memories and the people they once were remaining to be seen, not being completely gone, while still being unsure of who they are now. They explain how different lived experiences shouldn’t be that easy to forget because in the moment they felt like lifetimes. However, the notion of something having the ability to be a moment and a lifetime in one reveals that the things you know will always fade even when wanting to keep those moments.
Just hold me
Just hold me
The repetition of these lines four times in the bridge encompass the desperation of wanting the ability to have specific moments last forever before going back into the reality, that is the chorus, mentioned before.
Let's go out in flames so everyone knows who we are
'Cause these city walls never knew that we'd make it this far --
So let's dance like two shadows, burning out a glory day
This part hints to the doubts they unquestionably faced and their decisions to leave and prove to others and themselves that they could make it. Though this highlights the real feeling of loss of self and the lives they’d known, they know the journey they’re on will prove to be something great. Throughout the song the battle with letting go and accepting is seen but in the end we see the beginning of them knowing what they had have in fact become things that at one point they’d known, becoming silhouettes.
Taylor Swift is one of this generation’s most widely recognized musical artists. She has had many hit singles, albums, and even broken records she has set herself. However, with her widespread popularity, some people do not connect with her music and will vocalize their opinion any chance they get. But no matter how a person may feel about her music, there is one thing that everyone should agree on: Taylor Swift is a lyrical genius.
“Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve” is a bonus track on Taylor Swift’s Midnights (3am Edition). The whole Midnights album consists of songs she wrote during her sleepless nights. This track is about her ex-boyfriend John Mayer, who she dated when she was nineteen and he was thirty-two. In this song, now thirty-two herself, she reflects on her relationship with him and why it was so problematic and wrong.
If I was some paint, did it splatter On a promising grown man? And if I was a child, did it matter If you got to wash your hands?
In the opening lines of the songs, Swift is already addressing the fact that this relationship has defined both of their careers. She compares herself to paint, almost creating the idea that her speaking out about her relationship with Mayer “smeared” his career and her own. Despite all of her accomplishments, her previous relationship is always dragged into the conversation. She also points out that he was the “grown man” in the relationship and calls herself a “child.” This further pushes the point that he had all the power in the relationship and would get to control the narrative of how others viewed it while she, “the child,” would be seen as immature and foolish no matter how it ended. Mayer could “wash his hands” of the relationship, ultimately taking no responsibility for what happened during it and how it ended. However, Swift combats his behavior by saying that since she was a child when this happened, can he truly be able to “wash his hands” of it? Lastly, by including that Mayer is a “promising grown man” implies that he still has not lived up to the expectations the world has set for him and has not done anything truly striking. He is, most likely, widely known for this horrible relationship.
I would’ve stayed on my knees
And I damn sure never would’ve danced with the devil
And the God’s honest truth is that the pain was heaven
Before her relationship with him, Swift was religious and was very connected to her ideals. She illustrates that if she had never met Mayer and started a relationship with him, she would have stayed on the path of religion. She would have been connected to a much simpler and less painful life. However, since she was nineteen and didn’t know any better, the pain that she felt in this relationship was something that was seen as excusable. She wanted his validation and didn’t understand that the way he was treating her was horrible and damaging.
God rest my soul, I miss who I used to be
The tomb won’t close, stained glass windows in my mind
Stained glass windows are often used to depict Catholic and Christian stories. By stating that they still linger in her head, one can assume that she remembers brief memories of her previous life. However, they are shattered and will remain memories, nothing more. Swift mentions that she issues her old ideals and life. However, her relationship is something she wishes she could do away with. However, it won’t go away. No matter how many songs she writes expressing her feelings about the situation, this will be something that will always linger and haunt her.
If clarity’s in death, then why won’t this die?
Years of tearing down our banners, you and I
Living for the thrill of hitting you where it hurts
Give me back my girlhood, it was mine first
When her relationship ended, she expected to fully understand the damage and trauma she was left with. However, years later, she still has questions and is confused about the whole thing. They have both said horrible things about each other and have denounced each other in hopes of distancing themselves from the relationship. However, they are still connected in some way. By denouncing his character to the public, Swift is able to find some comfort in the situation. However, this will never change the fact that because her relationship was so toxic, she had to grow up fast, effectively ruining her childhood. The last line is her pleading and begging to have her girlhood back because it may bring some clarity to this situation.
All in all, this song is a reflection of an extremely toxic relationship that has left Swift with over a decade of trauma and sleepless nights. Her artistic language fully encapsulates this idea and really stresses to the listener how damaging a relationship with an older person can be. While people may only know Swift’s upbeat and carefree songs, they shouldn’t denounce her character or her music. She has proved time and time again that she can create brilliant songs, storylines, and carefully crafted music videos. So, if you view her music as overrated, simple, or boring, I advise you to get a new opinion.
In the song “Money Trees” from his 3rd studio album good kid, m.A.A.d city, Kendrick Lamar proposes that getting rich brings comfort and saves you from the everyday difficulties people face. But at the same time, having a lot of money is accompanied by evil. Lamar tells a story about how people will do anything to obtain money, even if it means killing someone.
“Everybody gon’ respect the shooter/ but the one in front of the gun lives forever/ the one in front of the gun forever”
Although the shooter got temporary attention from committing the murder, its the victim who is remembered and honored forever. Throughout the song, Lamar portrays how desperate people, especially those who grow up in poverty stricken neighborhoods strive to get rich quickly.
“Money trees is the perfect place for shade/ and that’s just how I feel”
In this predicament, people often lose their minds, morals, and stray from there passion.You have two options: pursue money or pursue meaning. Both can get you rich if you hustle hard enough. However, the pursuit of purely money is just a temporary place for security. This also implies that money and wealth is extremely susceptible to evil.
“A dollar might just make that lane switch, that’s just how I feel/ A dollar might turn into a million and now we all rich, that’s just how I feel”
The song also identifies prevalence of gang violence, drugs, and theft in poor stricken neighborhoods.