A Love Story Across Time…and Space?

“Berenstein” Lyrics

My song, “Berenstein” by THE BAND CAMINO, was released as a single in 2017. In trying to keep my selection relatively random, I just chose this song because it was one of the first songs that happened to pop up on my phone. I’ve always enjoyed listening to it for its sci-fi, synth sound and mysterious lyrics which I’ve never really dived into that much. I would encourage you to listen to the whole song to get the whole “feel” of it, but here I’ll give some of my thoughts on it:

Essentially, the speaker, audience, and occasion are pretty standard in a sense; a lover, the person he loved, and thinking back on what could’ve been; a “lost” relationship. The meaning, if only “x” things were different, we could have been together, but it never worked out. A classic theme across many songs. However, the song quickly takes on a more compelling meaning starting with its refrain, 

“At another place in time

You were infinitely mine

Relatively alright

When Berenstein was fine”

The inclusion of “Berenstein” is an allusion to the Mandela Effect, a phenomenon where a significant number of people insist that they remember something happening when it never did. Famous examples include Nelson Mandela dying in prison in the 80s when he really died in 2013, or for people who grew up reading the “Berenstain Bears” children’s books, an insistence that they were pronounced “Berenstein Bears”. A popular explanation for this phenomenon is the existence of parallel universes where these small details really exist the way we remember them. In this way, the song’s allusion to Berenstein actually cuts deep, the speaker is possibly alluding to a different universe or “another place in time” where “You [the speaker’s lover] were infinitely mine” and “Berenstein was fine”. The song then is a love letter across realities with a wish to travel between time and space to that universe when Berenstein, rather than Berenstain, was fine. The subtle inclusion of just one word changes the song from a catchy pop tune to a multidimensional love letter that contemplates reality. 

To further emphasize the existence or significance of this idea of an alternate reality, the song employs personification to describe said reality,

“You were always certain that it did exist

Imagination so intrinsic all at stake

All the things we said when we were younger

Did it bend or did I break?”

“It” being the alternate reality is described as something that may have “bent”, not a literal term we would associate a reality of having, but one that gives us more context into the song. Perhaps a relationship never worked out for the speaker because of some event in their reality that “bent” the potential for said relationship the wrong way. Then again, just as in one universe things may bend the wrong way, in another they may have bent the right way and the speaker would have experienced the relationship he dreams of. The personification of reality “bending” gives more power to the idea of multiple universes and/or the idea that such realities are malleable, and in turn, the things or relationships across those realities could also be malleable. Once again, the inclusion of certain elements in this song leaves the listener thinking about more than just a romance between two people but questioning the properties of love and reality. The personification of a universe being “alright” or a reality “bending” gives the idea that love is a malleable thing with many different variations across realities.

Finally, the song employs a constant motif of time and age to tie together its elements of love and parallel existences. In addition to its constant refrain,  

“At another place in time

Only parallel to mine

The universe was alright

When Berenstein was fine”

The song also references time stating, 

“Wait for me, wait for me there

I’ll die if you die, wait for me I swear

Wait for me I’m still somewhere

You’re getting older without me, I’m scared”

Or 

“All the things we said when we were younger”

Did it bend or did I break?”

The explanation of time within the speaker’s relationship makes it clear that the speaker has known their lover for a long time, and they probably regret both the timing of their relationship in their reality and yearn for a better timing in a different reality. The theme of time is literally important to understand the speaker’s relationship across their own life and whatever parallel lives they may have, but I also think it is meaningful for sparking a reflection on what time really signifies in a relationship. In our reality, time is linear and moves in one direction, if things didn’t work out in the past, that’s just how it was destined to be, and it’s fixed in the past. This perspective lets the reader challenge that, if one could jump between realities as the speaker wishes to, time would no longer be linear; relationships that never worked out could be re-explored and re-lived “at another place in time”.

Overall “Berenstein” by THE BAND CAMINO uses the allusion to one word, “Berenstein” to open a trove of poetic devices and philosophical wonderings. The song illuminates the multidimensionality of a relationship, capable of being lost between two individuals in our world, but also capable of being lost between realities. Whether it is the time motif, personification of realities, or the initial allusion to the Mandela Effect, Berenstein takes its listeners on an unorthodox journey through time, space, and love.

A Song That Will Never Escape Your Mind

Bob Dylan’s “Tangled Up in Blue” is an expertly crafted poem that draws you in and refuses to let go. It tells the story of a man’s life, his relationships over the years, and his journey to get back to one person in particular. By the time you’re finished listening to the song, you feel like you’ve lived the speaker’s life right alongside him. The song achieves this effect through its unorthodox usage of perspective and time.

Dylan has a tendency to alter his lyrics in live performances and on different recordings, so there are several different iterations of “Tangled Up in Blue.” The most significant, aside from the album version, is an earlier recording that makes the theme of perspective evident. On the album version, the narrator speaks in the first person in each of the seven stanzas, but in this alternative recording, stanzas one through three and six refer to the same events in the third person, as if the narrator were retelling stories he heard second-hand. This difference in point of view establishes Dylan’s interest in playing with perspective, which is made more evident in the song’s final lines (which are the same in both versions).

But me, I'm still on the road
Headin' for another joint
We always did feel the same
We just saw it from a different point of view
Tangled up in blue

Dylan uses the song’s fairly repetitive structure to sweep the listener up into the flow of time, positioning them in the shoes of the speaker as his memory drifts around from one point in his life to another. Each of the seven stanzas is composed of eight lines that set the scene for whichever stage in his life the speaker is remembering, followed by four lines that resolve that stage, followed by the refrain “Tangled up in blue,” which describes the speaker’s state of being tangled up in his memories.

The stanzas flow together, but they aren’t in chronological order. The first stanza establishes the moment the speaker presently occupies before he starts his walk down memory lane:

Early one morning the sun was shining
I was laying in bed
Wondering if she'd changed at all
If her hair was still red

However, the only lines that are actually in present tense come in the final stanza:

So now I'm going back again
I got to get to her somehow
All the people we used to know
They're an illusion to me now

This frames the stanzas that come between as motivation for the speaker’s current journey. The stories/memories that are told in these stanzas range from moments on one specific night to accounts that condense what could be years of the speaker’s life, but they all make the same argument to the speaker: he must return to the woman he left years ago.

The most poetic stanza of the song is the fifth:

She lit a burner on the stove
And offered me a pipe
"I thought you'd never say hello," she said
"You look like the silent type"
Then she opened up a book of poems
And handed it to me
Written by an Italian poet
From the thirteenth century
And every one of them words rang true
And glowed like burning coal
Pouring off of every page
Like it was written in my soul
From me to you
Tangled up in blue

This verse perfectly encapsulates the meaning of the song (the song is so purposefully crafted that you could make the same argument about any section) by turning a seemingly mundane interaction into a moment of enlightenment that holds great significance in the speaker’s memory. In it, Dylan describes a moment where he was struck by the beauty of a poem in the strikingly beautiful lines of his own poem. He signs the verse “from me to you,” as if he is giving the listener the same gift that the woman gave him in the book of poems.

Double meanings in Ultraviolence

Lana del Reys second album, Ultraviolence, shocked people after its release due to its surprisingly melancholic tone and slow pace. One of the most significant songs in the album is arguably the song “Ultraviolence”. The song uses repetition, symbolism, and double meanings in order to convey an abuser’s manipulation. In an interview, Lana del Rey explained that the song was about a past abusive relationship with a cult leader. The song opens up with,

He used to call me DN/That stands for deadly Nightshade/Cause I was filled with poison/But blessed with beauty and rage 

The mention of deadly nightshade introduces the motif of alcoholism and drug abuse. Deadly nightshade, also known as Bella Donna, is known for its controversial theories surrounding its effects on alcoholism, with some believing that it cures alcoholism. The lyrics after, about being filled with poison, can be interpreted as being filled with alcohol. 

He hit me and it felt like a kiss/Jim brought me back, reminded me of when we were kids

The violence inflicted on Lana feels like a kiss and the combined unbalanced power dynamics convey that the man is idolized so much that his violence is seen as affection. The abuser is manipulating the victim to the point where they end up believing that love is shown through violence. 

I can hear sirens sirens/he hit me and it felt like a kiss

Sirens refer to both police sirens and mythological sirens. In mythology, sirens would lure their victims into the water with their alluring voices and then kill them. The metaphor and double meaning of sirens show that while she hears sirens, the siren-like allure of the cult leader solidifies the control he has on her, which is further shown through the lyric about his violence being like a kiss being repeated throughout the song. 

I can hear violins, violins/Give me all that ultraviolence

Violins are sung in a way that makes the word sound very similar to violence. Violence and violins are also near homophones. The second lyric saying violence further shows the hidden yet obvious double meaning.  This lyrical choice seems like a portrayal of a cry for help, with the indirect wording of violence under the guise of talking about a violin. 

The Tartness of Cherry Wine

Hozier’s Cherry Wine is one of my personal favorite songs from his first album, Hozier. The album is riddled with meaningful songs that cover many different messages, some more obvious than others. Cherry Wine is a song that sounds incredibly romantic, the softness of Hozier’s tone and calmness of the guitar in the background disguises the dark reality of the lyrics and their story.

“Hot and fast and angry as she can be
I walk my days on a wire”

Cherry Wine, Hozier

Cherry Wine in its most basic form, is a song about abuse, both physical and emotional. However, unlike many other songs that discuss domestic abuse, Hozier explores a narrative that is generally passed over. The song details domestic abuse with the man as the victim. Lines such as:

“Thrown at me so powerfully
Just like she throws with the arm of her brother”

Cherry Wine, Hozier

The metaphor’s used little hide the physical abuse Hozier, who acts as the speaker and victim, experiences. The use of ‘thrown’ and ‘throws’ could be used in the literal sense, where she could be throwing an item at him. But, it could also mean that this behavior might be normal in her family as well.

The chorus of the song is what makes the abuse especially transparent, But the chorus lyrics also create hold some of the best portions of the song in terms of poetic verse.

“The way she tells me I’m hers and she is mine
Open hand or closed fist would be fine
The blood is rare and sweet as cherry wine”

Cherry Wine, Hozier

The title and final word of cherry wine plays into the idea of the speaker’s romantic relationship as a whole as well. One the outside it looks sweet, a happy couple without any issues, while their actual relationship is actually extremely bitter. This is the beauty of Hozier’s music, using whimsical wording and sound he can hide the reality of a song, but like how we never really know what relationships are like behind closed doors.

Crazy Man Michael

The song “Crazy Man Michael” (full lyrics here) by the band Fairport Convention is undoubtedly an example of lyrical poetry. But before we can talk about the actual content of the song, we should have some context.

Crazy Man Michael is an original composition written in the style of a folk song, similar to other songs on the same album (Liege & Lief), which are all either an adaptation of folk material or original compositions in a similar style. It was composed following a tragic bus crash that killed Fairport Convention’s drummer, Martin Lamble, and guitarist Richard Thompson’s girlfriend.

With this knowledge, we can more easily see the what of the poem. The song narrates the story of a man (Michael) who consults an oracle to try to see the future or at least seek comfort from it. The oracle (a raven) tells him that he will kill his true love. Michael, in a fit of rage, kills the raven, believing it has cursed him. Then he realizes that the oracle was his true love all along, and has fulfilled its prophecy. Michael was punished by the oracle for trying to see the future, and he struggles to cope with the grief he feels for the death of his love.

The poem conveys this message in multiple ways, but the most prominent is the use of metaphor, as can be seen in the lines

The bird fluttered long and the sky it did spin
And the cold earth did wonder and startle

“The bird fluttered long” indicates that it did not die quickly, adding to the trauma of the situation. “…the sky it did spin / And the cold earth it did wonder and start-o” could signify the earth spinning around the raven as it falls to the ground, or more poetically, Michael’s shock and confusion cause his perception of the world around him to distort and “spin.”

Crazy Man Michael he wanders and calls
And talks to the night and the day-o
But his eyes they are sane and his speech it is plain
And he longs to be far away-o

Michael, in disbelief, wanders and calls aimlessly into the night and day. He is clearly in grief and unable to cope with what has happened.
“But his eyes they are sane and his speech it is plain” My interpretation of this sentence is that Michael has lost his passion for life, he speaks very simply.
“And he longs to be far away-o” Michael longs for an escape from not only his surroundings, but the memory of what happened, but this cannot be, as is revealed in the next passage.

Michael he whistles the simplest of tunes
And asks the wild wolves their pardon
For his true love is flown into every flower grown
And he must be keeper of the garden

Michael desperately seeks forgiveness from the wild wolves, though he knows they cannot give it to him. He now sees his love in everything around him (every flower grown), and Michael has set himself to the task of “keeping her garden,” which can be interpreted literally as a garden (possibly where she died), or as some other way of preserving her memory.

Now that we can see the how of the poem, we can even clearer see the message it gives. Clearly, it was composed following the band’s tragic accident, and the character of Michael embodies the feeling of guilt the author had. It conveys this experience beautifully through the medium of a folk song, and uses (as is usual for most folk tales and songs) a lot of metaphor to help the listener better swallow the message. I believe this is not only an example of poetry in lyrical form, but is also one of the best examples in it’s contemporary folk genre.

Musical Poetry: “You’re On Your Own, Kid” by Taylor Swift

“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. 

L.A.

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.

Cleansing the Soul

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.

Hold It Horizontal

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 Childish Gambino, 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.

The importance of Cool It Now

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.

Mac Miller’s “2009”

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.

In the Sun: Joseph Arthur

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.

Taking a Leap of Faith and Spreading Your Wings: A Poetic Analysis of “I” by Taeyeon

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.

Silhouettes

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
Some silhouette

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.

Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve: Is Taylor Swift Overrated or Overhated?

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

At nineteen

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. 

Re: Stacks

After his girlfriend broke up with him, his band split up, and he contracted mono, Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon exiled himself to his father’s cabin in rural Wisconsin and spent an entire winter there in isolation, creating “For Emma, Forever Ago,” his first studio album. “Re: Stacks” stands alone as the last song on the album, serving as a capstone to the album’s frozen, emotional exploration of the pain and beauty of being alone. 

A recurring metaphor throughout the song is the mention of gambling, or “stacks” of poker chips.

I keep throwing it down two

hundred at a time

And it’s hard to find it when you knew it

When your money’s gone and you’re drunk as hell”

This motif of “stacks” is referring to effort. Even though Vernon put in everything he had into his relationship, whether that be with his band or his lover, he still hit rock bottom and lost everything he had. Feeling robbed of all of the effort he put into his relationships, what little control he had over his life is gone. The mention of “stacks” recurs throughout the song in the chorus, as Vernon repeatedly tries to rid himself of the memory of the “stacks” he once had. 

Further descending into himself, Vernon continues his self-excavation, baring all of his emotions:

I’ve been twisting to the sun

I needed to replace

And the fountain in the front yard is rusted out

All my love was down in a frozen ground

Searching for a source of happiness, or light, he is twisting towards the sun. The word twisting implies a sense of pain or discomfort; Vernon is trying to get over his losses but he can’t and it’s painful. Even though he needs to move on and find someone new, he can’t because he is too grounded in the past. Ultimately, the culprit for all of his troubles is himself, as mentioned by his rusted-out fountain. Just like iron harms itself by producing rust, Vernon is a bad influence on himself. 

Ultimately, in the last lines of the song, Vernon is finally able to accept what has happened and move on. 

This is not the sound of a new man

or a crispy realization

It’s the sound of the unlocking and lift away

Your love will be safe with me

Although he has not gained a radical new insight or made a huge discovery, time has lent him acceptance of his misfortunes and he is finally able to move on. Nothing has really changed, but Vernon has forgiven his past.

The song, and the album, ends with a drawn-out silence, and then the click and beep of a reconnecting answering machine as he rejoins the world. 

hoax: Why Taylor Swift is a Lyrical Genius

The song “hoax” is the final track on Taylor Swift’s album, folklore. This album was a time for Swift where she fully wrote about situations that she has not experienced, and truly experimented with storytelling.

In an interview, Swift stated that this song was written about several “fractured” situations about love, family, and a “business thing” (the drama surrounding Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun). The song is centered around betrayal, and love. How even when someone has betrayed you deeply, and has traumatized you, you can still feel love for them, and want to stay with them. Love isn’t just easy, just sunshine, and rainbows. Love is hard, and painful, and tragic. And with the right person, it’s worth it.

Verse 1

The first four lines of the verse read:

My only one
My smoking gun
My eclipsed sun
This has broken me down

Right out of the gate, it is evident that something is wrong within the narrator’s relationship. The narrator opens by stating that the subject of the poem is their “only” one, meaning that they are their one true love, or the only person the narrator feels they will ever be with. The narrator describes their partner as a “smoking gun.” This is an idiom, and can mean a piece of incriminating evidence. However, in a more literal sense, it can mean that the narrator has already been “shot” by their partner, and that the narrator is now reeling in the wake of being betrayed. The “eclipsed sun” also adds to how the narrator has once had a beautiful relationship, but this relationship is now shadowed, leaving the narrator “broken.” I think it’s interesting how throughout the verses, the partner is referred to with “my,” revealing that the narrator feels a deep connection to this person.

The next four lines of the first verse read:

My twisted knife
My sleepless night
My win-less fight
This has frozen my ground

Again, Swift is pulling in imagery to depict how painful the narrator’s partner’s actions have made the narrator feel. But what I think most interesting about this section is the line, “This has frozen my ground.” When ground is frozen, nothing can grow. Essentially, the relationship is unfruitful. However, this could also be an allusion to a lyric in Swift’s song, “the lakes,” which states:

A red rose grew up out of ice frozen ground

This meaning would be the opposite. Even though a relationship may be frozen, something beautiful can grow. There is hope. So even when a relationship seems to be going downhill, there may be something salvageable in the remnants of disaster.

Chorus

The chorus reads:

Stood on the cliffside
Screaming, “Give me a reason”
Your faithless love’s the only hoax
I believe in
Don’t want no other shade of blue
But you
No other sadness in the world would do

Now, the narrator is begging their partner to do something, anything, that would allow the speaker to not feel as though they should leave the relationship. The narrator wants to stay. It also gives slight suicide imagery, with the speaker literally standing on the edge of a cliff, though we don’t know if they are actually contemplating jumping. Within the chorus, it is also revealed that the speaker knows that their partner’s actions aren’t healthy. And yet, they still believe in the “hoax” of the relationship. In an interview, Swift discussed the last three lines of the chorus. She stated that this was what she believed true love was–not just finding someone to spend joyful moments with, but finding someone that you’re willing to be miserable with. This message is revealed through Swift’s use of enjambment within the fifth and sixth lines of the chorus. This enjambment places emphasis on the words “but you,” showing that this is the only person the narrator would tolerate this behavior from.

Verse 2

The second verse reads:

My best laid plan
Your sleight of hand
My barren land
I am ash from your fire

The first line of this verse may be an allusion to a line from Robert Burns’ poem entitled “To a Mouse,” which reads,

The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men
Gang aft agley

that translates to, “The best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry.” So, the speaker had a plan (possibly the romanticized version of being in love), which their partner has ruined. The “sleight of hand” line lends to how deceiving the partner is being. But the speaker isn’t fooled by their partner’s magic trick, and upon reflection, is able to see what they are plotting. And then, there is the word “barren.” This could mean that the relationship is empty (maybe empty emotionally, especially from the partner’s end), but also, like the frozen ground line, could mean that nothing good can come of their relationship. Then comes one of my favorite lines of the song: “I am ash from your fire.” Other than being just a beautiful line, it really shows how destructive their relationship is, but also how the narrator feels that they are simply the remnants of their partner’s terrible. They are no longer a physical thing, but dust. Ash.

Swift then goes into the chorus, which is the same as above.

Bridge

The bridge is often the most poetic part of Taylor Swift’s songs.

The first four lines of the bridge read:

You know I left a part of me back in New York
You knew the hero died, so what’s the movie for?
You knew it still hurts underneath my scars
From when they pulled me apart

What I think is really interesting about the bridge is Swift’s choice of tense. She begins in the present tense, then transitions into the past tense, which plays into the cycle of this relationship. The partner will continue to betray, and the narrator will continue to fight for the relationship to continue. I also love the hero line. I feel like this line is the narrator speaking to themselves, asking themselves why they’re still in the relationship if they know the ending (getting hurt). The scars line speaks to the narrator’s past relationships, and how they keep seeming to get hurt by those they once trusted. It also describes the permanence of the narrator’s trauma. Like a scar, they will never be fully healed.

The next seven lines of the verse read:

You knew the password, so I let you in the door
You knew you won, so what’s the point of keeping score?
You knew it still hurts underneath my scars
From when they pulled me apart
But what you did was just as dark
Darling, this was just as hard
As when they pulled me apart

I absolutely love the password line, and the metaphor it brings. It’s saying how this person knew exactly what to say to the narrator to gain their trust, only to betray it. The partner knew exactly what buttons to push to rile up the speaker. Then, we get an expansion of the scars line. It is added that what the partner did to the narrator was just as terrible as being dissected by others. And yet, the narrator still calls their partner “Darling.” They are still using this term of endearment even though they have been so deeply hurt.

Outro

The outro reads:

My only one
My kingdom come undone
My broken drum
You have beaten my heart

Don’t want no other shade of blue
But you
No other sadness in the world would do

Again, the partner is the narrator’s “only one.” Who they believe to be their soulmate, the only person they would stay with while being treated horribly. The kingdom line is a biblical reference, and reveals how the narrator once had the perfect relationship (a kingdom) that is now unraveled because of one side’s actions. The next two lines show how a rhythm of life has been disturbed, and essentially how heartbroken the narrator is. And yet, despite this heartbreak, Swift ends her song with the repetition of the line that she said described true love.

Despite much of the song’s negative tone, I’m not sure if the meaning of the poem is entirely negative. Yes, it describes a seemingly terrible situation, but I think it’s also saying that if you truly love someone, you will be willing to stick by them through these situations. Love is willing to be sad, and happy, and everything in between. But I also think that there’s a difference between a loving relationship that has flaws, and valleys, and a truly toxic relationship.

A Dance with the Devil

“Its Called: Freefall,” a song by Rainbow Kitten Surprise, is apart of an album entitled: How to: Friend, Love, Freefall. While I thoroughly enjoy the rest of the album, along with numerous other songs by RKS, nothing quite compares to “Its Called: Freefall.” The speaker is at his rock bottom, facing mental health issues, presumably depression and from his encounters with the devil, possibly suicidal thoughts. The entire song is revolutionary and each line adds a greater depth to the meaning.

While I have gone back and forth about the meaning of this song, I settled on the speaker searching anywhere for comfort or acceptance in a sea of internal struggles. For starters, the song opens up with a greeting from the devil,

Called to the Devil and the Devil did come
I said to the Devil, “Devil, do you like drums?
Do you like cigarettes, dominoes, rum?”
He said, “Only sundown, Sundays, Christmas”

To me, any interaction with the devil insinuates a type of desperation. When people are known to make a “deal with the devil,” it is almost always because they feel they have no other choice. I find this to be true within “Its Called: Freefall.” Furthermore, within verse two, the speaker reveals the apparent root of the struggles. His friends are subpar, despite being a great friend to them. However, with his complaining comes the devil yelling at him. Within this fight, the devil uses a compelling metaphor,

Don’t get me ventin’ on friends who resent you
‘Cause all you’ve ever done is been a noose to hang on to

While this is not the reason for my possible suspicion of suicidal thoughts, these lyrics do help reinforce it. It is because the devil compares him to a noose that the severity of his situation is revealed. He is at his lowest and as the devil acknowledges his claims of bad friends, his reason for his feelings becomes apparent.

The pre-chorus and the chorus then solidify this idea of acceptance.

You could let it all go
You could let it all go
It’s called “freefall”
It’s called “freefall”

Originally, I was torn between the meaning of the chorus. However, the meaning I pondered was the choice of suicide. The devil is known to rule things of that nature and it would make sense for his to urge such an action. For this man to kill himself, the devil would gain another man in hell, ultimately supporting his goal. The devil tells the speaker he could get rid of his despair and “let it all go,” inevitably finding peace through suicide. Furthermore, by repeating these phrases numerous times, like a demonic chant, it adds to the convincing aura of the song. The entire song is a conversation between the devil and the speaker. Another line I think solidifies my interpretation follows,

Called to the Devil and the Devil said, “Quit
Can’t be bothered, better handle y’all shit

Keep about your wits, man, keep about your wits
Know yourself and who you came in with

This is the first place the devil dismisses the speaker. Originally, the devil kept pushing the chorus, trying to get the speaker to join him in hell. By repeating with “you could let it all go,” makes it the speaker’s only option. It is because the devil repeats this phrase almost every other verse that the desperation becomes apparent. For the speaker to go back to the devil, time after time, even though he gets the same answer consistently, shows just how lost he is. Finally follows one of the last verses in the song,

Called to the Devil and the Devil said, “Hey
Why you been callin’ this late?
It’s like 2 AM and the bars all close at 10 in Hell
That’s a rule I made

This verse, by far, is my favorite line in music history. Despite the fact that I can clearly imagine this conversation and the characters within it, it powerfully adds to the desperation of the speaker and the tone of the song. I think for a lot of people, desperation and dark feelings occur at night. And for the speaker to call on the devil at 2AM, almost like a friend, it shows how difficult of a headspace the speaker must be in. However, by the devil saying “that’s a rule I made,” I think the speaker is brought back to reality. I think he almost views the devil as a friend, presumably because his current friends taught him nothing but heartache, so the speaker is looking in all the wrong places. However, when the devil concretely displays his power, like his ability to create things, the speaker resurfaces and the song ends.

Overall, I think despite the devil’s numerous chants, the speaker does not want to kill himself. If he wanted to, he would have chosen that option the first time the devil offered it. However, I do not think the speaker has a better of a person to turn to, hence his multiple conversations with the devil. Yet, he did not give into the temptations of the devil and realizes his wrong turn at the end of the song.

In my opinion, this song is the definition of a poem. By each line having multiple interpretations and meanings, it follows the same structure of poems we have read in class. This song is my favorite and I think the depth it alludes to really cements its standing as my #1.

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Our Music Poetry Playlist!

Enjoy, and don’t forget to present a defense of your poetic song on the blog — and leave comments on your classmates’ posts.

How The Cure’s “Let’s Go To Bed” Ties Into The Stranger

In 1982, The Cure released a single titled “Let’s Go To Bed”, a new synth-pop sound that was drastically different from their previous work. To start, lyrics aside, the history of the song also ties into The Stranger in a way; The Cure was known for their gothic rock sound and it was predicted that the song would be hated by traditional fans of the band. However, Robert Smith, lead singer, guitarist, and songwriter of The Cure disregarded this fact and didn’t care that it may be hated, saying he enjoyed the song so it didn’t matter if it was hated. This could be tied into how Meursault does as he pleases without regard for how it may be received by other people.

As for the lyrics, they can definitely be connected to Meursault’s relationship with Marie and how casual it is, given that he feels little to no attachment to her, only really enjoying her company for casual sex. The chorus of the song is the repeated lines of “It’s just the same – a stupid game/ But I don’t care if you don’t/ And I don’t want it if you don’t/ And I won’t say it if you won’t say it first”. This chorus relates to his relationship with Marie in the sense that Meursault doesn’t attempt to start anything with her beyond casual activities. On his dates with Marie, Meursault often points out the pauses of silence between the two and that if Marie is being quiet, he won’t say anything and just leaves it at that. When Marie asks Meursault if he loves her and wants to marry her, he says that either way it doesn’t matter or make a difference to him but he will go along with what she wants. If Marie had never brought up marriage and love, a conversation about it wouldn’t have happened because Meursault definitely would not want or say that first. Meursault also says during their conversation about marriage that he would’ve said the same thing to any other woman, which could be related to the line “Another girl, another name” in the song.

Overall, both Meursault and “Let’s Go To Bed” frequently speak of causal relationships that don’t have much meaning outside of basic enjoyment, a recurring concept in The Stranger.