Sober Up

Sober Up” by AJR featuring Rivers Cuomo from their album The Click is a song about losing yourself in adulthood. The song evokes a feeling of innocence, and the lyrics describe someone searching for their young love and innocence that has been swept away by adult life.

The song starts with:

Hello, Hello

I’m not where I’m supposed to be

I hope that you’re missing me

‘Cause it makes me feel young

Last time I saw your face

Was recess in second grade

The song is introduced with the speaker lost in his surroundings. His one lifeline is remembering a person from his past because they remind him of happier times in his life. The connection between them has been distant for some time, yet he still yearns for it.

The second verse includes lines like:

‘Goodbye, goodbye,’

I said to my bestest buds

We said that we’d keep in touch

And we did our best

The speaker begins to give more background on the situation he was in and the situation he finds himself in now. He uses “bestest buds” to describe their old friends because they were all truly close, but their communication fell through once they all went their own ways. The song then transitions over to describing the new people in his life by saying,

All my new friends

We smile at party time

But soon we forget to smile

At anything else

The new people are just “friends” because they don’t really have a genuine, heartfelt connection. The speaker tried to fill the gap of friends with new friends, but those friendships do not last. Smiles are a way to express happiness, and when smiling around people usually means that they make you happy. The speaker only smiles with his new friends during parties, so they don’t really make him happy. 

Throughout the song the lines “Won’t you help me sober up?” and “And I want to feel something again” repeat multiple times. The speaker is calling out for help. He realizes that he is in a toxic lifestyle and reflects on the last time he was happy: his childhood. This song is not only a cry for help, it is a reminder to search for your own happiness and that it is okay to ask for help.

Cosmic Love

Florence and the Machine’s “Cosmic Love” has been with me for a long time now. From the first time I let this song fill my ears, Florence’s heart-wrenching words and explosive tone have taken me to a completely different world. It is both powerful and sentimental, beautiful and tragic. Out of all the songs I have listened to, this one is the closest to poetry.

The very first lines of the song are:

A falling star fell from your heart and landed in my eyes

I screamed aloud, as it tore through them

And now it’s left me blind

Here, Florence Welch is describing how she was completely blinded by her love for this individual. Using several elegantly crafted metaphors, Welch compares her blindness by love to a star that fell from her love’s heart and right into her eyes. The metaphors help to build an image of not only the experience, but of the feeling. This is one of the fundamental qualities of poetry.

In the second verse, Welch sings:

And in the dark, I can hear your heartbeat

I tried to find the sound

But then it stopped, till I was in the darkness

So darkness I became

In this stanza, Welch is illustrating her feelings of depression and hopelessness that her relationship has led her to. She spent so long in the dark searching for love, that when her love eventually left her, she was still stuck there. The repetition of the word “darkness” emphasises her feelings of despair. The repetition of words in this way is a key characteristic of poetry that I have seen in many other famous works.

In a heart-wrenching bridge, Welch sings:

I took the stars from our eyes, and then I made a map

And knew that somehow I could find my way back

Then I heard your heart beating, you were in the darkness too

So I stayed in the darkness with you

In contrast to Welch’s previous lines that describe feelings of blindness and despair, this stanza holds a spark of hopefulness in it. This is the turning part of the poem, where she decides that she will love this individual, despite the darkness that he has pulled her into. She realizes that he is just as lost as she is, and she will be there with him, in the darkest of times. Like in previous stanzas, this bridge represents the climax of an experience, and tells the story right at its core. That is a key element of poetry.

Finally, in a beautifully powerful chorus, Welch sings:

The stars, the moon, they have all been blown out

You left me in the dark

No dawn, no day, I’m always in this twilight

In the shadow of your heart

This chorus is arguably the most powerful stanza in the entire song. It elegantly describes her feelings of being left in despair and depression from a relationship but wanting to stay in that relationship nevertheless. By comparing her emotions to various interstellar forces all throughout the song, Welch recounts her experience in a way that people will understand. Unlike simple stories, or artless information, experiences and emotions are harder to explain. That is why Welch’s use of understandable analogies is truly helpful to the reader of the poem.

All in all, I feel that this song is a true example of poetry. The stunning diction, rich metaphors, and powerful structure all contribute to the poetic element of this song. “Cosmic Love” illustrates not only a story, but an experience.

Cosmic Love

Where's The Karma for Life?

Image result for karma ajr

Ajr’s newest album Neotheater contains a total of 12 songs, one of them being called Karma. I consider Karma to be a very poetic song because it contrasts the meaning of the lyrics with the emotion of the music. When you first listen to it, the song is upbeat and it’s suppose to make you feel happy. One might say that this song is a “mood booster.” However, when you begin to hear the lyrics you start to realize that this about a broken man that’s slowly losing hope in life. The beginning of the song starts with the chorus which you don’t hear much nowadays which makes it even more unique. The chorus is:

I’ve been so good, I’ve been helpful and friendly

I’ve been so good, why am I feeling empty?

I’ve been so good, I’ve been so good this year

I’ve been so good, but it’s still getting harder

I’ve been so good, where the hell is the karma?

I’ve been so good, I’ve been so good this year

We’re told the speakers problems just from listening to the song for at most 25 seconds. The speaker tells us that they’ve been helpful and and friendly with others this year, however, they witness that life is only getting harder and they’re not getting anything in return for all the good deeds. This chorus introduces the concept of whether we keep doing good things just for the good feeling or to expect something in return, a quid pro quo. Most people would say to keep doing it for the good feeling, except this speaker shows a problem. The speaker has been doing good things but he’s felt nothing good about the things that he’s done. On top of that, life has been throwing more challenges and obstacles at the singer. From this chorus alone, the singer questions the act of goodness and whether or not he should keep doing it. The first verse goes like this:

Why, are you asking me why?

My days and nights are filled with disappointment

Fine, oh no, everything’s fine

I’m not sure why I booked today’s appointment

In this first verse, it seems the speaker is experiencing a bit of depression because of the fact that they can’t find any enjoyment throughout their entire day. The third and fourth represents him talking to a therapist or a doctor of some sort. Although he booked the appointment himself, he’s doesn’t feel ready yet to open up to his doctor and discuss the problems that he’s been having. After another section of chorus, the second verse is:

What, am I normal or not?

Am I crazier than other patients?

Right, I’ve done everything right

So where’s the karma doc, I’ve lost my patience

The speaker in this verse finally opens up to the doctor and begins to question whether he was the problem. The line “Am I crazier than other patients?” indicates his inner conflict with himself showing how he doesn’t fell normal. The speaker can’t form the definition of “normal” for society so he seeks help from others, like the doctor, who can somehow help him. The speaker truly believes that he’s done everything right, but with the way life is going for him, he wants to get revenge for his pain and suffering.

Karma is very poetic is a sense that it captures the sadness and anger of a man who just wants to live a happy life. Life had been cruel to the speaker for no particular reason and the speaker believes that the only way to combat this is for life to find karma. If life receives karma, then it would have no other choice but to send good things towards the speakers way ensuring a more happier life.

Is "Beloved" a Ghost Story?

In reading “Beloved,” a question arose in my mind. Is “Beloved” a ghost story? Clearly, there is a ghost or spirit of some sort in the form of Beloved. While Beloved is a spirit, what was Morrison’s motive to include a ghost in a story about post-slavery America? While one of Beloved’s main purposes is to haunt Sethe, what more does she represent?

There are a lot of questions there. But in my opinion, “Beloved” is not a ghost story. Personally, I think to call it so is simplifying Beloved as a character. To call “Beloved” a ghost story is to overlook many important events in the novel. As readers, we see many different time periods and events throughout African-American history throughout the book. We see a newly post-slavery United States through the “present” eyes of Sethe and Paul D. We also get to see flashbacks of Sethe’s and Paul D’s back to Sweet Home and slavery. We even get flashbacks to Sethe’s childhood and her mother, who spoke a different language, where Sethe would have been around people who could’ve remembered the middle passage. Morrison uses Beloved to fill some of the gaps missing in this history. As readers, we get vivid, horrible, brutal images of the middle passage through Beloved’s description. This is a part of the history that would not have been included in the story otherwise, but is very important in understanding the history of slavery in America. Beloved is also the one who asks Sethe so many questions about Sweet Home, providing the reader with more information about Sethe’s experience as a slave. Although Morrison could have found other ways to delve into Sethe’s past, Beloved is a natural and interesting tool that Morrison can use in order for us as readers to learn more about Sweet Home.

In this way, I think Beloved as a character serves a much larger purpose than just to be a ghost in the story and haunt Sethe. For this reason, to call “Beloved” a ghost story is a bit of an insult to the book because it holds so much more than that.

Aurora's "Winter Bird" Resembles Sethe's Journey

In Beloved, Sethe spends a good portion of the novel remembering her hazardous trek to 124 after she had escaped from Sweet Home. She recounts how she had to walk through cold and trying conditions while she was pregnant with Denver. The stunning imagery that Toni Morrison uses to describe this journey parallels the lyrics and overall tone of the song “Winter Bird” by Aurora.

When listening to this song, a few lines caught my attention in particular. The first I noticed was, “like the naked trees.” Aurora then goes on to ask if they will ever wake up again or if they have dreams. I found this line to parallel Beloved‘s motif of trees during Sethe’s journey. The trees themselves serve as a symbol for the overall mechanism of slavery, while the tree Aurora describes symbolizes her own dreams and curiosities.

Another line that struck me as similar to Morrison’s novel was the phrase “lay me by the frozen river, where the boats have passed me by.” This line stood out to me because it reminded me of when Sethe was giving birth to Denver in a boat. She has to have her baby in such horrid conditions because most of the white people do not care enough to help her, similar to how Aurora feels that the boats do not see her as important enough to stop for.

When Aurora sings the main line of the chorus “all I need is to remember, how it was to feel alive,” I couldn’t help but think of Sethe’s journey from Sweet home to 124. Specifically, this reminded me of the scene that Sethe recalls when Amy was massaging Sethe’s feet. Amy states that “anything dead coming back to life hurts.” Similar to Aurora, Sethe’s feet probably don’t remember the feeling of being alive.

Finally, the last line that stood out to me was “only wake each morning to remember that your’e gone.” I found this line to be especially powerful because it resembles Sethe’s emotional journey after she leaves Halle. She constantly wakes up every morning hoping that he will come back to her, but after a while, she knows that he is gone forever. She also looses her children later in her story and knows they will not come back to her.

Along with the lyrics themselves, the sad and heavy tone that Aurora sings this song with contributes to its similarities with the book Beloved. The book is not a happy one, so the tone of the book also has a heaviness to it. All in all, the tone and the words of this song paint a similar picture to that of Sethe’s memory.

“Winter Bird” by AURORA

Why Can They See Color?

Color is a motif throughout Toni Morrison’s Beloved. I think that color has many different meanings in the book. It often symbolizes very specific things such as how the color red represents the traumatic experiences of the past and the desire to forget them. More importantly, I think that it is intentionally used to demonstrate the transition into becoming a complete human being.

Color shows up a lot after Baby Suggs’ and Sethe’s escapes and during the characters present life. Color represents emotions which is important because even though slaves can have emotions it shows how they are not valued because they are not treated as people. They are not able to have emotions or other human behaviors because they are not treated like them. When describing Baby Suggs death Sethe says “…pondered color her last years. She never had time to see, let alone enjoy it before…I don’t believe she wanted to get to red and I understand why because me and Beloved outdid ourselves with it” (237). Even after they escaped into the north there was still a possibility that they could be caught and taken back into the south. Even if this possibility did not occur they were treated differently because of the color of their skin. I think that she is able to see more color as she approaches death because she is starting to become the most free version of herself, a soul. She is no longer lesser than anyone because what divided her, her body, is no longer there. You are able to see color when you reach freedom because only then are you able to have emotions.

Beloved and The Middle Passage

In class one day, we discussed that passage in which Beloved talks about where she came from. Beloved doesn’t name a specific location of her origin, but rather gives the reader a detailed description.

Beloved described the place that she came from as “dark” and “hot. Nothing to breathe down there and no room to move in” and that “A lot of people is down there. Some is dead.”

This description sparked much discussion and interpretation among the class. Some commonly agreed upon ideas within the classroom were Hell, a coffin, and a womb.

Then, Mr. Heidkamp gave a suggestion that nobody in the class had brought up, that Beloved was describing her journey through The Middle Passage.

The Middle Passage is the route slaves took from Western Africa to North America, where they would be sold into slavery. The Middle Passage was described by some slaves as the worst form of punishment, and in most slave autobiographies, this middle passage through the Atlantic Ocean isn’t even mentioned.

About 50% of Africans forced onto these slave ships died in The Middle Passage due to little to no food, water or shelter, as well as disease. Many debates in the colonies and later on, the states, involved whether these slave ships should be “tightly” or “loosely” packed with slaves.

The extreme dehumanization and of these people on The Middle Passage speaks to the horrors of slavery, and the disgusting actions the European colonists in North America.

Beloved expressed her dislike, and possibly even fear, of the place that she came from earlier on in the novel. It made me think a lot about this Middle Passage, and the other horrors that people faced due to the abuse of European power and force.

After I left that day in class, I heavily reflected on the emotional and physical impact of this passage, and how if a person was able to survive it, they would still be left with the horrible emotional trauma of the gruesome journey.