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.”

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.

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?

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
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.

Help me find a way
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.

What Do You Follow: Head or Heart?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Dear Today” A Day in the Life for All

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

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

The song starts with the introduction:

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

Luke Combs “Dear Today”

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

Combs follows this verse up with another important message:

And remember every second I got’s borrowed

Luke Combs “Dear Today”

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

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

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

(contains mentions of suicide)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the middle of the song, he says:

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

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

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

Don’t leave me to breathe

Don’t leave me to bleed

For someone who chose to leave me

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

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

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

The Broadway Show that Sold like Hot Cakes

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

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

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

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

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

Later in the song Hamilton repeats the word,

I wrote…

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

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

September Song: Listening to the Lyrics

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

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

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

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

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

There’s a Lifetime Right in Front of You

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

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

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

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

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

Young hips shouldn’t break on the ice

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

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

Not Such a Friendly Friend

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just Listen

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

Don't you feel it growing, day by day

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

Gotta get a message, get on through.

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

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

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