In her song, “Last Words of a Shooting Star“, Mitski ponders her own existence and if her life was fulfilling. This is my favorite song from her third studio album Bury Me at Makeout Creek. The song provides the experience of facing death and deciding whether or not to fight it.
The song starts with the narrator on a plane that is hit with turbulence, where she is forced to come to terms with her possible death. This near death situation leads her to reflect on her own life, including how she planned to die. She admits in the song that she wanted to “die clean and pretty.” This alludes to the fact that she has thought about her own death before. If she were to die on the plane, it would be easier as she would not have to worry about planning it all out.
There are many moments in the song that use multidimensional language that expand the experience of the narrator and trap the audience in her world. The line that stands out to me the most is, “I am relieved that I’d left my room tidy.” Out of context, this line can be interpreted very literally. The narrator cleaned her room that day and that gave her a sense of relief. Cleaning is good for the soul. However, in the context of the song that deals with imminent death, the line can interpreted as a quiet submission to this fate. If she is going to die, at least she is going knowing that she left her world the way that she wanted it to be preserved. Preserved as a perfect image of who she was. This line is repeated multiple times throughout the song, emphasizing how important the image she left behind is to her sanity. Her tidy room provides a sense of comfort, because that will be the image people will remember when they think of her. “They’ll think of me kindly when they come for my things.”
The narrator evaluates her past love interests while facing death. Her evaluation seems to prove that dying on the plane would not take her away from much. Her past relationships would haunt her as unfulfilling. “And you’d say you love me and look in my eyes/But I know through mine you were looking in yours” Eyes can be interpreted in many different ways. They can be anatomically interpreted as the part of your face that gives the gift of sight. In romantic songs and movies, looking into someone’s eyes is seen as the romantic gesture that symbolizes connection and love on an intense spiritual level. Eyes are the windows to the soul, a vulnerable look into your own humanity. Mitski flips this assumption using the eyes as a way to reveal vanity and one sided relationships. The mirror-like quality of her eyes shows signs that there is a lack of connection and love that could leave her generally unsatisfied with her life.
“And did you know the liberty bell is a replica/Silently housed in its original walls.” Mitski uses a metaphor to expand on the feeling of emptiness. The narrator compares herself to the liberty bell. This metaphor expresses the feeling of not fitting in your own body. She feels as though something has changed within her. She is a replica of herself trapped in her original body. On the outside she looks the same, but on the inside there is something missing. This feeling, as expressed through the metaphor, causes her to feel out of place in her own existence and to not feel frightened by the prospect of her own death.
By the end of the song, the narrator has sufficiently evaluated her life and came to terms with the possibility of dying that day. She realizes that she would be ready to die. “So I am relieved that the turbulence wasn’t forecasted.”