Focus on the Lyrics Friday: Photograph

I haven’t done one of these in a while, but Ed Sheeran is calling to me again.

And, yes, the ginger boy in these home videos is Sheeran himself. Pretty adorable.


Lyrics

Loving can hurt
Loving can hurt sometimes
But it’s the only thing that I know
When it gets hard
You know it can get hard sometimes
It is the only thing that makes us feel alive

We keep this love in a photograph
We made these memories for ourselves
Where our eyes are never closing
Hearts are never broken
Times forever frozen still

So you can keep me
Inside the pocket
Of your ripped jeans
Holdin’ me closer
‘Til our eyes meet
You won’t ever be alone
Wait for me to come home

Loving can heal
Loving can mend your soul
And it’s the only thing that I know (know)
I swear it will get easier
Remember that with every piece of ya
And it’s the only thing we take with us when we die

We keep this love in this photograph
We made these memories for ourselves
Where our eyes are never closing
Our hearts were never broken
Times forever frozen still

So you can keep me
Inside the pocket
Of your ripped jeans
Holdin’ me closer
‘Til our eyes meet
You won’t ever be alone

And if you hurt me
That’s okay, baby, only words bleed
Inside these pages you just hold me
And I won’t ever let you go

Wait for me to come home [4x]

Oh you can fit me
Inside the necklace you got when you were 16
Next to your heartbeat
Where I should be
Keep it deep within your soul

And if you hurt me
Well, that’s okay, baby, only words bleed
Inside these pages you just hold me
And I won’t ever let you go

When I’m away
I will remember how you kissed me
Under the lamppost
Back on 6th street
Hearing you whisper through the phone,
“Wait for me to come home.”

Analysis

When I first heard this song, I thought it was about a soldier heading off to war and the importance of photographs to him and his beloved. While I think this romantic interpretation could still apply, Sheeran’s music video–a compilation of home videos from his childhood–brings to light a more familial interpretation.

1) “Loving can hurt / Loving can hurt sometimes / But it’s the only thing that I know / When it gets hard / You know it can get hard sometimes / It is the only thing that makes us feel alive”

Love isn’t limited to romance. So while these seem like straightforward I-love-you-even-though-it-hurts lines, they could apply to people outside a traditional romantic relationship. Take, for example, a mother and her son. Who, in a mother and son relationship, hasn’t had “hard” times? Who would also agree that, in this relationship, love is “the only thing”? Oh, sure, there can be the occasional feud and not all relationships are ideal, but for most people love is prevalent. On a separate note, the final line here reminds me of a Victor Hugo quote: “To love or have loved, that is enough. Ask nothing further. There is no other pearl to be found in the dark folds of life.”

2) “We keep this love in a photograph / We made these memories for ourselves / Where our eyes are never closing / Hearts are never broken / Times forever frozen still”

This is what initially brought about my soldier interpretation. I’ve often heard stories of people holding on to a photograph of their loved one oversees or at home, and I connected that with this song. What Sheeran’s saying here is basically that “this love”–be it romantic or familial–is kept in “a photograph” with all the memories they made. In the photograph, their “eyes are never closing, hearts are never broken, [and] time’s forever frozen still.” In the love the song centers around, things are different now than they were in the photograph. Now, they’re both hurt and “time’s forever frozen still” (which is a repetitive line but a beautiful one). “Broken hearts” doesn’t necessarily mean the relationship ended, though. Quite a few people seem to interpret it that way, but I disagree. “Broken hearts” can also be caused by long-term separation between a couple or a family.

3) “So you can keep me / Inside the pocket / Of your ripped jeans / Holdin’ me closer / ‘Til our eyes meet / You won’t ever be alone / Wait for me to come home”

The “me” of the first line here refers to the photograph, which temporarily serves as a representation of him. He encourages her, saying she should “[hold] me closer ’til our eyes meet.” He must be staring directly at the photographer for her eyes to meet his in a photograph. And the fact that their eyes can meet (when his eyes are really just a piece of paper) is unusual. It further confirms that the photograph is like a stand-in until the real thing returns. I also think it show’s that they still connect. They’re eyes meet; they’re equals; they miss each other. Why else would she be staring at his photograph? To reiterate, this could also be his mother staring at a photo of him (I’ve yet to meet a mother who wears “ripped jeans,” but I’m sure they exist). Whoever it is, despite the distance between them, he claims she “won’t ever be alone.” His photograph will keep her company until he can “come home.” As a singer now, I’m sure he’s on tour often, so his mother or sweetheart would be “alone” but for the photograph of him. Definitely not a break up.

4) “Loving can heal / Loving can mend your soul / And it’s the only thing that I know (know) / I swear it will get easier / Remember that with every piece of ya / And it’s the only thing we take with us when we die”

Just as “loving can hurt,” it can also “heal.” While their separation may hurt, their love can leap those bounds and still “mend your soul.” I think the “it” he refers to in the third line here is the obstruction in their relationship, which I believe is physical distance. He begs her to “remember” that “it will get easier.” The “it” of the final line goes back to the first line: “[Love is] the only thing we take with us when we die.” Which prompts the thought; what if the obstruction is death? What if this song is about loving someone who’s already gone? What if “coming home” means joining them in the afterlife? It doesn’t fit perfectly with the photograph motif, but I always like to consider other interpretations.

5) “And if you hurt me / That’s okay, baby, only words bleed / Inside these pages you just hold me / And I won’t ever let you go”

This section is a little confusing. As far as I can understand, he means that she can hurt him–the photograph representing him, perhaps. But “that’s okay” because “only words bleed;” only words can hurt him. This is an imperfect interpretation because he doesn’t say “only words make him bleed,” but this is how I’ve come to understand it. He also says that “inside these pages” she should “just hold [him].” I think “these pages” could refer to the photograph (perhaps it shows them hugging, so he “won’t ever let you go” or the many “words” and memories they share or even the “pages” of their dreams. In my initial interpretation, I heard “only words bleed” to mean that, even though he was going into dangerous territory, the only thing that could really hurt him was her words. In any case, I think he’s trying to reassure her.

6) “Oh you can fit me / Inside the necklace you got when you were 16 / Next to your / heartbeat / Where I should be / Keep it deep within your soul”

Admittedly, this section sounds much more like romantic love than familial love. But how else would you explain the music video? This section’s pretty simple, but it’s my favorite part of the song. He says she can “fit [him]”–his photograph, that is–inside a locket from when she was a teenager. Again, this reminds me of a soldier’s words to his beloved, since some of my friends and family were in serious relationships at a young age and had to deal with long distance as a result of war. The necklace lies near her heart, where Sheeran believes he “should be.” In other words, he thinks his photograph should be near to her heart because it represents him, and he should be near to her heart, as well. He wants her to keep the memories of him “deep within [her] soul,” where he will never be lost and forever be treasured.

7) “When I’m away / I will remember how you kissed me / Under the lamppost / Back on 6th street / Hearing you whisper through the phone, / ‘Wait for me to come home.'”

I really hope he’s not talking about his mom here. Though maybe he means a light kiss on the head farewell or something like that. In any case, while she has a photograph to remember him by these lines make it clear he’ll keep her in his memories, as well. The last two lines puzzle me. How could they be on the phone if she kissed him? Unless there are two “you”s or two different situations here. And why would she say “wait for me to come home?” He’s the one who left. I’d like to hear your thoughts on this, too; please comment below.

My conclusion? This would be an adorable song to play at the wedding of someone who’s about to leave for the military. Or to send to your mother when you’ve been away for a while.

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Focus on the Lyrics Friday: Tear in My Heart

Twenty one pilots recently released the music video for “Tear in My Heart” from their upcoming album Blurryface (available May 19th). And its pretty adorable.


Lyrics

Sometimes you’ve got to bleed to know,
That you’re alive and have a soul,
But it takes someone to come around to show you how.

She’s the tear in my heart, I’m alive,
She’s the tear in my heart, I’m on fire,
She’s the tear in my heart, Take me higher,
Than I’ve ever been.

The songs on the radio are ok,
But my taste in music is your face,
And it takes a song to come around to show you how.

She’s the tear in my heart, I’m alive,
She’s the tear in my heart, I’m on fire,
She’s the tear in my heart, Take me higher,
Than I’ve ever been.

You fell asleep in my car, I drove the whole time,
But that’s ok, I’ll just avoid the holes so you sleep fine,
I’m driving here I sit, cursing my government,
For not using my taxes to fill holes with more cement.

Sometimes you’ve got to bleed to know,
That you’re alive and have a soul,
But it takes someone to come around to show you how.

She’s the tear in my heart, I’m alive,
She’s the tear in my heart, I’m on fire,
She’s the tear in my heart, Take me higher,
Than I’ve ever been.

My heart is my armor,
She’s the tear in my heart, she’s a carver,
She’s a butcher with a smile, cut me farther,
Than I’ve ever been.

Analysis

Basically, this song is about love. The singer declares that sometimes the only thing reminding us we’re alive is how much we hurt and then says his beloved hurts him. In other words, the pain from loving someone constantly reminds him he’s alive.

That may not have made much sense, so let’s go into a line-by-line analysis.

1) “Sometimes you’ve got to bleed to know, / That you’re alive and have a soul, / But it takes someone to come around to show you how.”

The singer says “bleeding” reminds us we’re alive, but someone else needs to “show you how” to bleed. I think “bleeding” means giving part of yourself away. Love requires a bit of sacrifice; its like trusting someone else with your heart.

2) “She’s the tear in my heart, I’m alive, / She’s the tear in my heart, I’m on fire, / She’s the tear in my heart, Take me higher, / Than I’ve ever been.”

The “she” is the “someone” who showed him “how” mentioned in the previous line. She’s the one he loves; she’s the one he bleeds for; she’s the one who constantly reminds him he’s alive. She’s the “tear in [his] heart.” Not only does she make him feel alive, she makes him feel “on fire” and desire something “higher / than [he’s] ever been.” Fire often refers to pain or–er–passion and “higher” refers to an elevated or better state of being.

3) “The songs on the radio are ok, / But my taste in music is your face, / And it takes a song to come around to show you how.”

These lines are just super cute. He’s saying her face is a song–his favorite type of song. Don’t think about it too hard; just trust me, it’s cute. He also says it “takes a song to come around and show you how,” paralleling the previous lines where it takes “someone…to show you how.” He’s already compared her face to a song, so clearly she’s also the song it takes to “show you how.”

4) “You fell asleep in my car, I drove the whole time, / But that’s ok, I’ll just avoid the holes so you sleep fine, / I’m driving here I sit, cursing my government, / For not using my taxes to fill holes with more cement.”

Again, these lines are adorable. The “holes” he avoids are, quite simply, pot holes. I don’t have much to analyze here, I just think the words are cute enough to merit a second look.

5) “My heart is my armor, / She’s the tear in my heart, she’s a carver, / She’s a butcher with a smile, cut me farther, / Than I’ve ever been.”

His heart is his protection, or “armor;” he’s secure enough in what he thinks that other people who disagree and argue against him don’t hurt him at all. This woman, though, is the “tear” in his armor. What she says can hurt him. She’s a “carver” and a “butcher,” constantly taking more of his love and reminding him he’s alive and able to hurt him in a way others can’t. She “cuts” him “farther than [he’s] ever been,” or makes him feel more alive than he’s ever felt before.

This is one of twenty one pilots’ happier, simpler songs. Most of their lyrics are deeper and darker. I highly encourage you to check out their channel on youtube, especially if you enjoyed this song.

Focus on the Lyrics Friday: Over the Love

“There must have been moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams — not through her own fault, but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion. It had gone beyond her, beyond everything. He had thrown himself into it with a creative passion, adding to it all the time, decking it out with every bright feather that drifted his way. No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man will store up in his ghostly heart.”

Today marks the 90th anniversary of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. To celebrate, today’s song is Florence + The Machine’s “Over the Love” from the 2013 film adaptation. The song plays softly for a short time during (surprise, surprise) a party scene. Outside the movie, though, the song is much more powerful and the lyrics shine like the green light.


Lyrics

Ever since I was a child,
I’ve turned it over in my mind.
I sang by that piano, tore my yellow dress and,
Cried and cried and cried.

And I don’t wanna see what I’ve seen,
To undo what has been done.
Turn off all the lights,
Let the morning come.

Now there’s green light in my eyes,
And my lover on my mind.
And I’ll sing from the piano, tear my yellow dress and,
Cry and cry and cry,
Over the love of you.

On this champagne, drunken hope,
Against the current, all alone,
Everybody, see, I love him.

‘Cause it’s a feeling that you get,
When the afternoon is set,
On a bridge into the city.

And I don’t wanna see what I’ve seen,
To undo what has been done.
Turn off all the lights,
Let the morning come.

Now there’s green light in my eyes,
And my lover on my mind.
And I’ll sing from the piano, tear my yellow dress and,
Cry and cry and cry.

‘Cause you’re a hard soul to save,
With an ocean in the way,
But I’ll get around it,
I’ll get around it.

‘Cause you’re a hard soul to save,
With an ocean in the way,
But I’ll get around it.

Now there’s green light in my eyes,
And my lover on my mind.
And I’ll sing from that piano, tear my yellow dress and,
Cry and cry and cry and,
Over the love of you.

Cry and cry and cry and,
Over the love of you.

Cry and cry and cry and,
(I can see the green light),
(I can see it in your eyes).

[The song goes on to repeat variations of these last lines for a while and it’s beautiful.]

Analysis

“Over the Love” is from Daisy Buchanan’s perspective. There will be many references to Gatsby in this post, so if you’re not familiar with the story and don’t want it spoiled, I suggest leaving the page here. It’s been over a year since I’ve read the story, so if I get anything wrong, please correct me.

1) “Ever since I was a child, / I’ve turned it over in my mind. / I sang by that piano, tore my yellow dress and, / Cried and cried and cried.”

When Daisy was younger, she and Gatsby were lovers. I believe the “it” which she’s turned over in her mind is “the love” referenced in the title. Two girls in yellow dresses attend Gatsby’s first party, which is (if I remember correctly) when this song is played in the film. I think the reference to a yellow dress does more than just pay homage to the unnamed characters; rather, I believe it’s a nod to the symbolism of the color yellow. Throughout the book, yellow represents false wealth, as it is a fake gold. In tearing her yellow dress in this song, Daisy tears herself away from false wealth (which I feel represents Gatsby, the personification of new money). This would also explain why she cries.

2) “And I don’t wanna see what I’ve seen, / To undo what has been done. / Turn off all the lights, / Let the morning come.”

The speaker wishes she could “undo” something, though it is unclear whether she means she wishes she didn’t have a history with Gatsby or she wishes she hadn’t married. Personally, I think it’s the latter. The concept of turning off all the lights and letting the morning come is reminiscent of new beginnings. In essence, the singer wishes she could start over.

3) “Now there’s green light in my eyes, / And my lover on my mind. / And I’ll sing from the piano, tear my yellow dress and, / Cry and cry and cry, / Over the love of you.”

The “green light” is the light of Daisy’s house Gatsby sees from his backyard. The light symbolizes Gatsby’s hopes and dreams, particularly in association with Daisy and “green,” or money. It is the one thing in the darkness he reaches towards. On a broader level, the green light represents the American dream. Since I interpret the song from Daisy’s perspective, the “green light in my eyes” shows she sees the same dream Gatsby does, but the light seems to blind her rather than illuminate the world around her. Gatsby is also the “lover” of whom she thinks. The singer also reveals here that she’s crying “over the love of you.” This could be interpreted two ways; either Daisy cries to get over her love of Gatsby or she cries for her love of Gatsby. Knowing Daisy, I tend to agree with the first.

4) “On this champagne, drunken hope, / Against the current, all alone, / Everybody, see, I love him.”

Despite taking place during the prohibition, alcohol played a prominent role in the 1920s. I interpret this to mean the speaker only has hope when drunk. It’s hopeless to think she could be with Gatsby. The individual who fights “the current, all alone” is not named. It could be Gatsby, fighting the realists for a taste of illusion. It could also be Daisy, unsure of what exactly she wants, isolated by her situation. I think it’s interesting that someone could feel “all alone” in an atmosphere filled with elaborate parties, but that’s really how the novel paints Gatsby–isolated, even when surrounded. The “him” the speaker says she loves could either be a sarcastic comment about her husband or a genuine comment about Gatsby. I think that she would say “you” if she meant Gatsby, but I could be wrong. All in all, this passage is fairly ambiguous.

5) “‘Cause it’s a feeling that you get, / When the afternoon is set, / On a bridge into the city.”

Again, I think the “it” refers to love. Love is a feeling you get in the evening on a bridge into the city. The bridge mentioned is the Queensboro Bridge, which connects New York City to Manhattan. At one point, the novel actually remarks, “The city seen from the Queensboro Bridge is always the city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and beauty in the world.” I think these lines refer to that quote.

6) “‘Cause you’re a hard soul to save, / With an ocean in the way, / But I’ll get around it, / I’ll get around it.”

I believe the “you” refers to Gatsby again. Gatsby’s “soul” is buried deep in his fantasies of what could be. The “ocean in the way” refers to both the literal body of water separating the east and west eggs of Manhattan and the metaphorical obstacle of living in reality versus living in an illusion. It could also be a reference to the obstacle of Daisy’s marriage. She says she’ll find away “around” this obstacle, but we know by the end that she doesn’t.

7) “I can see the green light, / I can see it in your eyes.”

Not only does the Daisy of this song “see the green light,” but she sees it reflected “in your [Gatsby’s] eyes.” She recognizes how set Gatsby is on achieving his dream and how she responds to that is unresolved by the end of the song.

Overall, I think this song is about more than just Daisy’s perspective in The Great Gatsby. It’s about the tragedy of hoping when it’s hopeless. It’s about a love that part of you knows will never come into fruition. It’s about the green light and the yellow dress and everything that’s fake, everything that deceives us. It’s a raw, hauntingly beautiful song–as hauntingly beautiful as the book itself.

Focus on the Lyrics Friday: Kids in the Dark

I tried to think of a good easter song to analyze but I don’t think I know any easter songs, much less easter songs in need of analysis. Somebody should get on that.

In any case, my friend Alex introduced me to this new song by All Time Low earlier this week and I fell in love with the lyrics (and the song itself–very Fall Out Boy-esque). So, without further ado, I give you my analysis of All Time Low’s new single “Kids in the Dark.”


Lyrics

Here we are,
at the end of the road — a road that’s quietly caving in,
Come too far to pretend that we don’t — we don’t miss where we started.
Looking back, I see a setting sun
and watch my shadow fade into the floor.
I am left standing on the edge
wondering how we got this far

They left us alone,
the Kids In The Dark,
to burn out forever,
or light up a spark,
We come together,
state of the art,
We’ll never surrender,
the kids in the dark,
So let the world sing,
“What a shame,
what a shame,
beautiful scars,
on critical veins,”
Come together,
state of the art,
We’ll never surrender,
the Kids in the dark,
the kids in the dark…

Here we are at the top of the hill — a hill that’s quietly crumbling,
Been a while since you dressed for the kill– the kill that sent me tumbling,
Looking up, I see a falling star, and watch its fire burn into the floor,
I am left standing on the edge,
wondering why we fall so hard

They left us alone,
the Kids In The Dark,
to burn out forever,
or light up a spark,
We come together,
state of the art,
We’ll never surrender,
the kids in the dark,
So let the world sing,
“What a shame,
what a shame,
beautiful scars,
on critical veins,”
Come together,
state of the art,
We’ll never surrender,
the kids in the dark,
the kids in the dark…

Analysis

At its core, this song is about people who face tough times joining together and fighting to be happy and lively once more. It has an optimistic message, but it’s realistic because it acknowledges that these situations happen and that they will happen again.

1) “Here we are, / at the end of the road — a road that’s quietly caving in, / Come too far to pretend that we don’t — we don’t miss where we started / Looking back, I see a setting sun / and watch my shadow fade into the floor. / I am left standing on the edge, / wondering how we got this far.”

The “end of the road” signifies the end of a chapter of a person’s life. If the road is “caving in,” it has been ending for some time. The “we” of the song have been on this path for a while and miss what life was like before they walked down this road. They started out with more light–more joy, more optimism, more life–but the light is now setting behind them. Even the speaker’s shadow is fading “into the floor,” signifying not only that he is left in the dark, but that part of him is lost to the darkness. He stands on the edge of the road, wondering how they came so far in spite of the crumbling road and pressing darkness.

2) “They left us alone, / the Kids In The Dark, / to burn out forever / or light up a spark, / We come together, / state of the art, / We’ll never surrender, / the kids in the dark, / So let the world sing, / ‘What a shame, / what a shame, / beautiful scars / on critical veins'”

These “kids in the dark” are individuals who face tough times. The kids have two options: embrace the darkness and lose hope (“burn out forever”) or make their own light, their own greatness (“light up a spark”). They’re united in their darkness, and vow to “never surrender.” I think this makes it clear that the speaker wants them to “light up a spark” rather than surrender to the darkness. “They” (“the world,” as he later calls them) don’t recognize the potential of the kids in the dark. The phrase “what a shame” is often used in mock pity, and I don’t think that’s changed for this song. The world may titter that it’s a shame those kids have “beautiful scars on critical veins”–a reference to cutting–but the world is the one to push them in the dark in the first place. Still, the speaker says the kids in the dark should “let” the world say so, brushing off their mock pity and standing up to fight the darkness directly.

3) “Here we are at the top of the hill — a hill that’s quietly crumbling, / Been a while since you dressed for the kill– the kill that sent me tumbling, / Looking up, I see a falling star, and watch its fire burn into the floor, / I am left standing on the edge, / wondering why we fall so hard”

The speaker isn’t just standing at the edge of a road; he’s at the top of a hill. The path he’s taken has been a struggle upward. The hill, too, is “crumbling” so everything around him is falling apart. This is where it gets confusing. When the second line refers to “the kill that sent me tumbling,” I believe it means the situation that pushed him toward the dark. Still, I’m unsure as to why he refers to “you” and why you’re “dress[ing] for the kill.” Any thoughts on that subject are welcome in the comments below. The “falling star” the speaker sees could be another kid in the dark, falling from the heavens to the earth, where the kid’s fire–like the speaker’s shadow–is lost to the floor. That would explain why the speaker wonders “why we fall so hard.”

Though this second verse is more depressing, the song ends with a repetition of the chorus, which says the kids in the dark will still unite and will still try to fight the darkness. No matter how hard or how many times they fall, the kids in the dark will keep fighting for light.

I think we’re all kids in the dark–at least at some point. We’ve all been through (or will go through) tough times that force us into a dark chapter of our lives. But, as All Time Low says, we will keep fighting toward the light. We will not surrender to the darkness. We will join together in our tough times and eventually we will be in the light again.

Focus on the Lyrics Friday: Budapest

This was a song I actually wanted to analyze a while ago, but I completely forgot about it until I heard it on the radio yesterday. Before writing this post, I had no idea what this song meant. Actually, I thought the singer, George Ezra, was some middle-aged, silver-haired chap.

Turns out, he’s just British.


Lyrics

My house in Budapest
My, my hidden treasure chest
Golden grand piano
My beautiful CastilloYou
Ooh, you
Ooh, I’d leave it all

My acres of a land
That I’ve achieved
It may be hard for you to
Stop and believe

But for you
Ooh, you
Ooh, I’d leave it all

Ooh, for you
Ooh, you
Ooh, I’d leave it all

And give me one good reason
Why I should never make a change
Baby if you hold me
Then all of this will go away

My many artifacts
The list goes on
If you just say the words
I, I’ll up and run

Oh, to you
Ooh, you
Ooh, I’d leave it all

Oh, for you
Ooh, oh
Ooh, I’d leave it all

And give me one good reason
Why I should never make a change
Baby if you hold me
Then all of this will go away

Give me one good reason
Why I should never make a change
Baby if you hold me
Then all of this will go away

My friends and family
They don’t understand
They fear they’d lose so much
If you take my hand

But, for you
Ooh, you
Ooh, I’d lose it all

Oh, for you
Ooh, you
Ooh, I’d lose it all

And give me one good reason
Why I should never make a change
Baby if you hold me
Then all of this will go away

Give me one good reason
Why I should never make a change
Baby if you hold me
Then all of this will go away

My house in Budapest
My, my hidden treasure chest
Golden grand piano
My beautiful Castillo

You
Ooh, you
Ooh, I’d leave it all

Oh, for you
Ooh, you
Ooh, I’d leave it all

Analysis

At its core, this song is a love song. The singer would leave everything–his home, his wealth, etc–for the one he loves.

I read a couple other interpretations online and someone suggested that this song is related to Archduke (and heir to the Austria-Hungarian throne) Franz Ferdinand. Never one to discount ludacris historically-based meanings for songs, I looked up the specifics of Franz Ferdinand, who is most famous for being assassinated (an event which led to WWI). Apparently, he was only supposed to marry a member of a reigning or formerly reigning dynasty in Europe, but he fell in love with an archduchess’ lady-in-waiting, Sophie Chotek. He would not consider marrying anyone else. Eventually, he was allowed to wed Sophie on the condition that she and their children would not inherit his titles, privileges, or throne.

Sorry for the brief diversion; the history minor in me found that story fascinating.

1) “My house in Budapest / My, my hidden treasure chest /Golden grand piano / My beautiful Castillo / You / Ooh, you / Ooh, I’d leave it all”

The reference to Budapest, the capital of Hungary, makes the relation to Franz Ferdinand more plausible, since he was heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary. More simply, these lines mention the singer’s home, his “treasure,” his “golden grand piano” and his “castillo” (which could refer to a type of guitar or a castle). Basically, we get the idea that the singer has a lot of beautiful, material things he loves…but not as much as he loves “you,” for whom he would “leave it all.”

2) “My acres of a land / That I’ve achieved / It may be hard for you to / Stop and believe”

The singer doesn’t just own land; he’s “achieved” this land through his work. It may be hard for “you,” his love, to “believe,” but he’d be willing to leave everything for which he’s worked hard for his love.

3) “And give me one good reason / Why I should never make a change / Baby if you hold me / Then all of this will go away”

These lines seem to be the basis of the music video, in which the change of one person sparks the change of another, then another, then another, until the whole room is full of change. Why should the speaker continue to live with all this wealth, away from the ones he loves. The “all of this” is the wealth, which the speaker says will “go away” if his love holds him.

4) “My many artifacts / The list goes on / If you just say the words / I, I’ll up and run”

This guy’s pretty well-off if he has artifacts. I wouldn’t want him to give all that up for me; I’d want him to give it up to me. I’m assuming “the words” he wants “you” to say are some proclamation of love.

5) “My friends and family / They don’t understand / They fear they’d lose so much / If you take my hand”

Franz Ferdinand’s story fits here too, since his family didn’t want him to “take [Sophie’s] hand.” I think the relations are too loose for the song to be about Franz Ferdinand, but I still like relating history to music. If the singer is willing to give up everything he has for the one he loves, of course his family would “fear they’d lose so much.”

Though the Franz Ferdinand interpretation is a little far-fetched, it’s my only explanation as to the importance of Budapest to the speaker. Perhaps it has some sort of personal meaning for Ezra.

Regardless, the sound’s light, attractive feel makes it interesting and catchy–as if to prove it, my mom’s been singing it around the house for the hour it’s taken me to write this post.

Focus on the Lyrics Friday: Immortals

In celebration of the release of “Big Hero 6” on February 24 (and out of love for Fall Out Boy), this week’s post will look at the lyrics of FOB’s “Immortals.” The track played while the movie’s main character, Hiro, designed and tested “superpowered” outfits. Bear with me here; I’ll probably give away a couple things about the movie but it’s hard to analyze a song from a movie without giving a thing or two away.

I love FOB, but they’re not known for good annunciation, which makes it a little harder to focus on the lyrics. Still, I’d encourage FOB fans to look the words up; their lyrics are often as impressive and unique as their sound.


Lyrics

They say we are what we are
But we don’t have to be
I’m glad to hate you but I do it in the best way
I’ll be the watcher of the eternal flame
I’ll be the guard dog of all your fever dreams

I am the sand in the bottom half of the hourglass (glass, glass)
I try to picture me without you but I can’t
‘Cause we could be immortals, immortals
Just not for long, for long

If we meet forever now, you pull the blackout curtains down
Just not for long, for long
We could be immor-immortals, immor-immortals
Immor-immortals, immor-immortals
Immortals

Sometimes the only payoff for having any faith
Is when it’s tested again and again everyday
I’m still comparing your past to my future
It might be over, but they’re not sutures

I am the sand in the bottom half of the hourglass (glass, glass)
I try to picture me without you but I can’t
‘Cause we could be immortals, immortals
Just not for long, for long

If we meet forever now, you pull the blackout curtains down
Just not for long, for long
We could be immor-immortals, immor-immortals
Immortals

If we meet forever now, pull the blackout curtains down
We could be immor-immortals, immor-immortals
Just not for long, for long
We could be immor-immortals, immor-immortals
Immor-immortals, immor-immortals
Immortals

Analysis

The band said the song was modeled on the concept of an underdog stepping into a bigger role, taking the hero role of the protagonist’s brother. Hiro’s actions and even what he says near the end of the film parallel the actions and sayings of Tadashi (the brother) at the beginning of the film. That meaning is made clearer in the lyrics.

1) “They say we are what we are / But we don’t have to be / I’m glad to hate you but I do it in the best way / I’ll be the watcher of the eternal flame / I’ll be the guard dog of all your fever dreams”

The first lines fit with the FOB’s meaning. The focus of the song is on underdogs who “don’t have to be” losers. The concept that people can be more than they are said to be is central to the film. I think the “you” of this song is *spoiler* Hiro’s dead brother but the third line confuses me. Perhaps Hiro resented his brother because he knew the dangers of doing what led to his death but still did it. The fourth line refers to an “eternal flame,” which is often a memorial (like the flame under the Arc de Triomphe) and the fifth line refers to “fever dreams,” or fever-induced nightmares. The idea of being a “watcher” or a “guard dog” is a heroic one. Hiro stepped up to a heroic position (pun intended) to avenge his brother’s death. More than that, Hiro preserves his brother’s memory by watching over Baymax, the machine his brother worked so hard to create.

2) “I am the sand in the bottom half of the hourglass (glass, glass) / I try to picture me without you but I can’t / ‘Cause we could be immortals, immortals / Just not for long, for long”

“The sand in the bottom half of the hourglass” is the time that has already passed and is waiting to pass again. Where Hiro’s brother has no time left, Hiro’s hourglass is going to continue getting flipped over. Moreover, the hourglass has two important parts: the top and the bottom half. These halves continually take one another’s roles. Where Tadashi played the heroic role, now Hiro must step up to become the hero. (On a side note, I’m pretty sure Hiro is meant to sound like Hero–the movie is called “Big Hero 6,” after all.) In the movie, Hiro has a hard time dealing with his brother’s death. In essence, he tries to “picture [himself] without [Tadashi] but [he] can’t.” Hiro learns to accept that Tadashi will be remembered through his friends and family (and Baymax), and in this way, Tadashi is immortalized. The idea with being immortal is also consistent with the scene the song plays in, where the group “suits up,” if you will. Still, no one can remain forever. The paradox of being immortal but “not for long.” Words, stories, and memories may immortalize a person in a way, but it’s not full immortality; everything that we know has an end.

3) “If we meet forever now, you pull the blackout curtains down”

This line confuses me. “Blackout curtains” are curtains designed to block out all light. The word “forever” links the line to the idea of immortality, but this line has a more ominous feel because it’s a forever without light. It could be a reference to death, since that’s the only time Hiro could “meet forever” with his dead brother. Or I could be misreading it. If you have any theories, please comment below.

4) “Sometimes the only payoff for having any faith / Is when it’s tested again and again everyday / I’m still comparing your past to my future / It might be over, but they’re not sutures”

The first lines are fairly straightforward; sometimes the only reward for believing in something is having your belief tested. In the testing of that belief, you become stronger, both in that belief and in your resilience. The third line is my favorite. At first I thought it meant Hiro was still expecting to have Tadashi in his future, but the word “comparing” suggests something else. Much of this song discusses how Hiro’s stepping up to take Tadashi’s place, in a way. He’s comparing what Tadashi has done to what he hopes to accomplish. In essence, he hopes he becomes just as great as his big brother. I think the “it” of the final line is “your past.” “Sutures” are stitches for a deep wound to help it heal. Tadashi’s life may be over, but it’s not stitched up. And as long as the person responsible for Tadashi’s life is around, Hiro believes he’ll have trouble healing from the grief. That’s why he tries to take Tadashi’s role in the first place; he wants to stitch up loose ends in Tadashi’s death and “stitch” himself up in the process. The reference to sutures is also fitting because baymax was created as a personal health care companion. As such, his job is to take care of wounds (internal and external), like by suturing a wound.

I love FOB. This isn’t the last song of theirs I’ll analyze, I guarantee.

In any case, I hope you picked up on my shameless plug for “Big Hero Six.” If the Oscars tell you anything, it’s an animation worth seeing.

Focus on the Lyrics Friday: Alone

It seems a little ironic for me to analyze a song about human interaction on a blog, but, hey, it has to be done. “Alone” by Armin van Buuren (feat. Lauren Evans) is one of my favorites at the moment because it makes a statement. It’s not about a relationship between two people; it’s about the relationship between all of us (or the lack thereof). Though it’s not the most popular song on his new album (you may have heard his hit, “This Is What It Feels Like“), I think it’s incredibly relevant and meaningful.


Lyrics of “Alone” by Armin van Buuren, feat. Lauren Evans

Everyone is walking on the edge of life
Like a ghost of a shadow, barely alive
Even time’s in a rush
But it’s going nowhereEveryone’s connected but no one is connecting
The human element has long been missing
Tell me, have you seen it?
Have you seen it?Or are we alone?
‘Cause I need something to believe in
Tell me, are we alone?
Where is the life? Where is the feeling?
Is anybody out there?
Is anyone listening?
Is anyone left in this whole world?
Or are we alone?
Alone…Where is the feeling?Everybody needs to know
Somebody who cares.
Just a friendly face
You can trust to be there.
Are you afraid to be known
And not be a stranger?

‘Cause everyone’s connected but no one is connecting
The human element has long been missing
Tell me, have you seen it?
Have you seen it?

Or are we alone?
‘Cause I need something to believe in
Tell me, are we alone?
Where is the life? Where is the feeling?
Is anybody out there?
Is anyone listening?
Is anyone left in this whole world?
Or are we alone?
Alone…

Is anyone left in this whole world?
Or are we alone?
Alone…

Analysis
1) “Everyone is walking on the edge of life / Like a ghost of a shadow, barely alive / Even time’s in a rush / But it’s going nowhere”
Another line involving ghosts! I guess I have a tendency for the paranormal lately. This reminds me of a line from another group I mentioned before who said, “Life is a coma we can still choose to wake up from.” We’re not really living, we’re just following our routines day in, day out, “walking on the edge of life.” Evan sings that we’re “like a ghost of a shadow,” which is about as far away from life as you can be without being dead. I love the personification of time at the end, too; it reminds me of the phrase “time flew by.” Today, everyone’s in a rush, too busy to talk, too busy to connect with other people, too busy to care–and time is no exception. Still, van Buuren says, though time is rushing, “it’s going nowhere.” Time itself has no destination; it’s infinite. The way the lyrics are written, though, makes it sound negative, since the word “even” lumps us with time. We’re all in a rush, and we’re all going nowhere. Oh, we may have more of an end destination than the infinite time; we may be rushing to work or to the doctor or home, but that means nothing because we’re rushing; we’re not giving ourselves time to establish personal connections. When we’re at work, we’re rushing to get home and when we’re home, we’re rushing to get to work.
2) “Everyone’s connected but no one is connecting / The human element has long been missing / Tell me, have you seen it? / Have you seen it?”
I love paradoxes; they make you stop and think, and in a song like “Alone,” stopping to think is essential. When the lyrics say “everyone’s connected,” they’re referring to modern technology. Don’t get me wrong; I love my smartphone and laptop as much as the next girl, and I’m constantly scrolling through Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Tumblr. I mean, I have a blog, for goodness’ sake. But the problem is that our wifi connections are becoming more important than our personal connections; in other words, “everyone’s connected but no one is connecting.” As Evans sings, “the human element has long been missing.” Even in conversation we’ve become masters of small talk. I can talk for hours without actually saying anything. (Ha! Another paradox!) Now that the paradox has commanded our attention, we’re asked a rhetorical question: “Have you seen it?” The lyrics are really forcing us to think for ourselves in this song!
3) “Or are we alone? / ‘Cause I need something to believe in / Tell me, are we alone? / Where is the life? Where is the feeling? / Is anybody out there? / Is anyone listening? / Is anyone left in this whole world? / Or are we alone? / Alone…”
At first, this song confused me. Who is “we”? How could “we” be alone? I think I understand now, though. “We” is anyone who connects. The speaker wants to connect (rather than just be connected) but she sees very few other people who want the same. We’re no longer paying attention to other people on the street or even “listening” to what goes on around us. The music video makes the meaning behind these lines much clearer. It should be noted that these are the lines with which the song ends, as well, leaving the word “alone” echoing in our minds.
 4) “Everybody needs to know / Somebody who cares. / Just a friendly face / You can trust to be there. / Are you afraid to be known / And not be a stranger?”
The last line here is like a dare: “Are you afraid to be known and not be a stranger?” Really, what is so frightening to us about one-on-one connections? Why do we struggle to help those we don’t know? Perhaps we’re afraid of rejection. But isn’t the risk of rejection worth the possibility of helping or meeting someone new? As Evans puts it, “Everybody needs to know somebody who cares.” Who would disagree with that? Surrounding yourself with people who care for you is like surrounding yourself with pillows; no matter which way you fall, you’ll have something to ease the pain. The hardest part is finding those individuals. As the lyrics suggest, as long as you stay in your bubble, chances are no one will come into yours. In our society, it takes something or someone extraordinary to join people together; I’m finding this to be more true as I age.
How did you like today’s song pick? This is the first (but not last) time I’ve analyzed the lyrics of a dance/electronic song. You’ve probably picked up on it by now, but I tend towards alternative, electronic, and pop-rock. Really, I just like fast, upbeat songs (with beautiful lyrics, of course).
Nonetheless, I’m open to all suggestions, regardless of genre or pace.

Focus on the Lyrics Friday: Bleeding Out

Yesterday I donated blood for the first time. It’s a weird sensation, bleeding out for somebody else. Being the Imagine Dragons (remember their hit Radioactive?) fan that I am, I thought their song seemed like a good anthem for me today, while I’m still a little weak from blood loss.

Admittedly, I caved and looked at other interpretations of this song online. A lot of people have the idea that this song is about self-injury and suicide.

A lot of people are wrong.

I think this song is the battle cry of sorts for friends or partners to rise up and protect the ones they love…and I think it uses a Biblical allusion to convey that message.

See if you can figure it out.


Lyrics to Bleeding Out by Imagine Dragons

I’m bleeding out
So if the last thing that I do
Is bring you down
I’ll bleed out for you
So I bare my skin
And I count my sins
And I close my eyes
And I take it in
I’m bleeding out
I’m bleeding out for you, for you.

When the day has come
That I’ve lost my way around
And the seasons stop and hide beneath the ground
When the sky turns gray
And everything is screaming
I will reach inside
Just to find my heart is beating

Oh, you tell me to hold on
Oh, you tell me to hold on
But innocence is gone
And what was right is wrong

‘Cause I’m bleeding out
So if the last thing that I do
Is to bring you down
I’ll bleed out for you
So I bare my skin
And I count my sins
And I close my eyes
And I take it in
And I’m bleeding out
I’m bleeding out for you (for you)

When the hour is nigh
And hopelessness is sinking in
And the wolves all cry
To fill the night with hollering
When your eyes are red
And emptiness is all you know
With the darkness fed
I will be your scarecrow

You tell me to hold on
Oh you tell me to hold on
But innocence is gone
And what was right is wrong

‘Cause I’m bleeding out
So if the last thing that I do
Is to bring you down
I’ll bleed out for you
So I bare my skin
And I count my sins
And I close my eyes
And I take it in
And I’m bleeding out
I’m bleeding out for you, for you.

I’m bleeding out for you (for you)
I’m bleeding out for you (for you)
I’m bleeding out for you (for you)
I’m bleeding out for you

‘Cause I’m bleeding out
So if the last thing that I do
Is to bring you down
I’ll bleed out for you
So I bare my skin
And I count my sins
And I close my eyes
And I take it in
And I’m bleeding out
I’m bleeding out for you, for you.

Analysis

Before I give my interpretations, I have to preface this by saying that this song is ambiguous. It could mean completely different things to different people, and that’s part of what makes it so personal.

I think the song alludes to the Crucifiction to call friends out to sacrifice for one another. In a way, it’s a cry to be more like Jesus in his willingness to sacrifice despite the pain. (A couple of the band members are Mormon, so this meaning is certainly possible.)

It’s not going to make much sense unless we look right at the lyrics, so let’s dive right in.

1) “I’m bleeding out / So if the last thing that I do / Is bring you down / I’ll bleed out for you / So I bare my skin / And I count my sins / And I close my eyes / And I take it in / I’m bleeding out / I’m bleeding out for you, for you.”

This is the cry of Jesus “bleeding out” on the cross as the “last thing” he does (while in the flesh, of course). He “bare[s]” his skin to the lashings and “counts his sins” (which are exactly none).  This could also apply to an individual who’s “bleeding out,” or sacrificing something, “for you,” his friend. He exposes himself when he “bare[s]” his skin and “counts his sins,” ready to “take it in” to save his friend.

2) “When the day has come / That I’ve lost my way around / And the seasons stop and hide beneath the ground / When the sky turns gray / And everything is screaming / I will reach inside / Just to find my heart is beating.”

Yet another Imagine Dragons song with a post-apocalyptic feel. This also feels like how a depressed individual might view the world, so I can see why people may misinterpret the song as one related to depression and self-injury. This could also be how Jesus felt on the cross (with everyone laughing or “screaming” at him and the seasons and sky fading, like they know what it means that his end is near). It’s a little extreme of an interpretation, but it could fit. What would fit better yet is a more human explanation. When the individual feels “lost” and feels like all is coming to an end, he will remember what he holds dear to him, in his “heart,” and keep up the struggle.

3) “Oh, you tell me to hold on / Oh, you tell me to hold on / But innocence is gone / And what was right is wrong.”

This feels like Jesus crying out on the cross, as well, doing what is “right” in saving us by doing what is “wrong” in being crucified despite lacking sin.

4) “When the hour is nigh / And hopelessness is sinking in / And the wolves all cry / To fill the night with hollering / When your eyes are red / And emptiness is all you know / With the darkness fed / I will be your scarecrow”

You’ve found my favorite part! I’m a sucker for the word “nigh.” Anyway, I think this is the strongest part of the song. In continuation with the crucifiction allusion, this seems like the part where Jesus is about to die (“the hour is nigh”) and the “wolves,” or people who condemned him, “fill the night with hollering” and someone in the crowd, possibly Mary, has “red” eyes from crying. Still, Jesus hangs on the cross, similar to a “scarecrow” in both his physical position and in keeping the darkness from the crops, keeping Satan from his followers. Isn’t that a gorgeous comparison? I get really geeked out when unusual metaphors fit so perfectly. The lines would also fit for an individual who sacrifices for his friend, who feels “hopeless” and “empty.” He intends to sacrifice himself to keep the “darkness” from taking hold of his friend.

What should we take away from this, then? I think we should be better friends. I hope you’re never in a desperate situation where you must chose whether to save your friend or yourself, though the song seems to feel clearly about which is more important. The lyrics should be applied to the smaller things. Perhaps if your friend needs to discuss the pains in his/her life, you should sacrifice your time. If your friend needs a hug, you should sacrifice your personal space. If your friend needs a tub of ice cream and a couple distracting flicks to get over a tough breakup, you should sacrifice your money. Most importantly, this song seems adamant that if your friend suffers from depression, you should sacrifice all you can (in good conscience, of course) to help.

Or maybe Imagine Dragons is just encouraging us all to donate blood.

Focus on the Lyrics Friday: Tennis Court

Last week I mentioned that this week’s Focus on the Lyrics will involve a popular singer, the French Revolution, and a theory of mine. (I actually used the term “far-fetched,” but the more I look at the lyrics, the more sure of my theory I am.)

I’m here to follow through with my promise. Today we’ll take a look at “Tennis Court” by the young New Zealand singer Lorde, who you may know for her hit, Royals.

*Please note that this song does swear once.


Lyrics to Tennis Court by Lorde

Don’t you think that it’s boring how people talk
Making smart with their words again, well I’m bored
Because I’m doing this for the thrill of it, killin’ it
Never not chasing a million things I want
And I am only as young as the minute is full of it
Getting pumped up from the little bright things I bought
But I know they’ll never own me (Yeah)

Baby be the class clown
I’ll be the beauty queen in tears
It’s a new art form showing people how little we care (Yeah)
We’re so happy, even when we’re smilin’ out of fear
Let’s go down to the tennis court, and talk it up like yeah (Yeah)

Pretty soon I’ll be getting on my first plane
I’ll see the veins of my city like they do in space
But my head’s filling up with the wicked games, up in flames
How can I  ****  with the fun again, when I’m known
And my boys trip me up with their heads again, loving them
Everything’s cool when we’re all in line, for the throne
But I know it’s not forever (Yeah)

Baby be the class clown
I’ll be the beauty queen in tears
It’s a new art form showing people how little we care (Yeah)
We’re so happy, even when we’re smilin’ out of fear
Let’s go down to the tennis court, and talk it up like yeah (Yeah)

It looked alright in the pictures (Yeah)

Getting caught soft with the triple is it
I fall apart, with all my heart
And you can watch from your window
And you can watch from your window

Baby be the class clown
I’ll be the beauty queen in tears
It’s a new art form showing people how little we care (Yeah)
We’re so happy, even when we’re smilin’ out of fear
Let’s go down to the tennis court, and talk it up like yeah (Yeah)

And talk it up like yeah (Yeah)
And talk it up like yeah (Yeah)
Let’s go down to the tennis court, and talk it up like yeah (Yeah)
And talk it up like yeah (Yeah)
And talk it up like yeah (Yeah)
Let’s go down to the tennis court, and talk it up like yeah (Yeah)

 

Analysis

Okay, here’s my theory: this song is about the events leading up to the French Revolution (particularly the Tennis Court meeting).

It fits pretty perfectly, right? The only problem is Lorde has never suggested that. Rather, she says the meaning of the song is rooted in her recent rise to fame and what famous people face; the reference to a tennis court is simply because she sees them as aesthetically beautiful and grand.

I think the song can be both. It uses the French Revolution to explore what it means to be famous. This gives the song a darker undertone, suggesting just how easily the tables can turn and celebrities can lose everything, just as the French monarchy did.

It’s more of a social criticism piece than a biographical statement, if you ask me.

Without further ado, let’s look at some specific parts.

1) “Don’t you think that it’s boring how people talk / Making smart with their words again, well I’m bored. / Because I’m doing this for the thrill of it, killin’ it / Never not chasing a million things I want / And I am only as young as the minute is full of it / Getting pumped up from the little bright things I bought / But I know they’ll never own me (Yeah)”

Lorde thinks that which people talk about (ie-celebrity gossip) is boring. She’s singing and doing whatever it is she does for the “thrill of it,” not for the fame or the people. People talk about everything, down to the “little bright things” she’s purchased. No matter what they do, though they will never “own” her; she will continue to do what she wants rather than what the media wants.

On the French Revolution side of this, I picture a bored Marie Antoinette, unconcerned with the petty peasant talk. She doesn’t care for the politics of being Queen of France; she cares only for the “thrills” of luxury, “chasing a million things” she wants. She gets excited about her possessions, but she thinks they’ll never control her.

2) “Baby be the class clown / I’ll be the beauty queen in tears / It’s a new art form showing people how little we care (Yeah) / We’re so happy, even when we’re smilin’ out of fear / Let’s go down to the tennis court, and talk it up like yeah (Yeah).”

Lorde points out how celebrities feel the need to own up to what the media labels them as in order to show they don’t care. It’s a strange form of rebellion, but it is a plausible idea as to why some celebrities embrace such bad labels. These celebrities are fake, though. They tell themselves they’re “happy” and look happy, but they’re “smilin’ out of fear.” She suggests they meet at the tennis courts, which she considers glamorous places, and talk about their shared experiences (their “yeahs,” if you will).

Looking at the French Revolution standpoint, Marie Antoinette speaks of her husband, Louis XVI (“Baby”), as a “class clown.” He was considered a joke of a king, since his real passion was making keys. From what I’ve read, he prefered manual labor over politics. To the French, that would make him an upper-class clown. (See what I did there?) Marie herself acted as the “beauty queen in tears,” always crying in order to get more pretty dresses and gardens. The labels are like caricatures of their reign, pointing out their most unsavory characteristics to seem like that’s all they were. Of course, that’s what peasants of the time shared to gain more support for the revolution. Marie has obviously caught wind of the rebellious talk, so she and her husband feign the happiness everyone expects of royalty, though they’re smiling out of fear, pretending to be comfortable in politics. The reference to speaking at the tennis court coincides with the Tennis Court meeting, where the royals met with peasants to hash out a compromise and avoid revolution. The meeting was actually successful, but other peasants misinterpreted the presence of soldiers and the revolution began. Lorde’s song only takes us as far as the tennis court, but the end of the French monarchy is imminent.

3) “Pretty soon I’ll be getting on my first plane / I’ll see the veins of my city like they do in space / But my head’s filling up with the wicked games, up in flames / How can I  ****  with the fun again, when I’m known / And my boys trip me up with their heads again, loving them / Everything’s cool when we’re all in line, for the throne / But I know it’s not forever (Yeah)”

This was probably penned around the time of Lorde’s first tour, where she would hop on a plane for the first time and look at her home from afar. She’s becoming more and more anxious, though, and wonders how she can do what she wants and remain true to herself when she’s a celebrity. Her friends and family (“my boys”) clear her anxieties. It’s okay while she’s not yet on “the throne,” or the spotlight, but that won’t last forever. She’ll soon have to take her seat among other stars.

Admittedly, the first line doesn’t fit well with Marie Antoinette’s setting, but perhaps we can take “plane” to mean a flat surface rather than a flying vehicle. If this were the case, perhaps the “plane” refers to her guillotine platform. (“Soon” is, after all, a relative measurement.) She’ll see “her city,” Paris. She’s becoming more anxious, wondering how she can do what she enjoys (shopping, gambling, etc.), when she’s being watched for trial. And her family (she had a husband and several kids, remember) reminds her to focus on the now. The last two lines are literal in this interpretation: everything’s good as long as they reign, but they won’t reign forever.

4) “It looked alright in the pictures (Yeah) / Getting caught soft with the triple is it / I fall apart, with all my heart / And you can watch from your window / And you can watch from your window.”

Fame looked appealing from all the photos, but she’s not sure anymore. Paparazzi try to snag photos of celebrities when they’re at their worst and claim the individual is falling apart. Lorde mocks this when she dispassionately sings, “I fall apart, with all my heart.” And audiences watch from their “windows,” both detached and attracted to the world of fame.

Marie Antoinette might say the same of France and her rule. It looked glamorous in the painting, but all the politics threaten her family while peasants watch the fall of the monarchy from their windows, both disgusted and attracted to the world of luxury.

 

If the song speaks both of what Lorde sees in the world of fame as she sets out and what Marie Antoinette sees as her world of fame as she comes to an end, it’s pretty brilliant. The two meanings compliment one another well, showing just how harmful the spotlight can be and how long fame has been an issue. It may not have been what Lorde set off to write, but that’s how I read into the lyrics.

Don’t forget to check back next week for another Focus on the Lyrics!

 

 

Focus on the Lyrics Friday: Flaws

Today marks the start of a new weekly post: the Focus on the Lyrics Fridays.

Henceforth, I shall post a song every week along with the lyrics and my interpretation of them. The goal? To emphasize the power of words in music (and rejoice in the fact that not all modern music lacks poetry).

Who better to start with than my favorite band, Bastille? You probably know them for their hit Pompeii, but have you heard their other songs?

All their lyrics are poetic and unique; they lack the strings of profane and sexual language common in popular music today. More than that, they make you think.

Without any further fanfare, I present to you Focus on the Lyrics Friday: Flaws by Bastille.


Lyrics to Flaws by Bastille

When all of your flaws and all of my flaws
Are laid out one by one
The wonderful part of the mess that we made
We pick ourselves undone.

All of your flaws and all of my flaws
They lie there hand in hand
Ones we’ve inherited, ones that we learned
They pass from man to man.

There’s a hole in my soul.
I can’t fill it, I can’t fill it.
There’s a hole in my soul.
Can you fill it? Can you fill it?

You have always worn your flaws upon your sleeve
And I have always buried them deep beneath the ground.
Dig them up; let’s finish what we’ve started.
Dig them up, so nothing’s left untouched.

All of your flaws and all of my flaws,
When they have been exhumed
We’ll see that we need them to be who we are
Without them we’d be doomed.

There’s a hole in my soul.
I can’t fill it, I can’t fill it.
There’s a hole in my soul.
Can you fill it? Can you fill it?

You have always worn your flaws upon your sleeve
And I have always buried them deep beneath the ground.
Dig them up; let’s finish what we’ve started.
Dig them up, so nothing’s left untouched.

Ooh
Ooh

When all of your flaws
And all of my flaws are counted
When all of your flaws
And all of my flaws are counted

You have always worn your flaws upon your sleeve
And I have always buried them deep beneath the ground.
Dig them up. Let’s finish what we’ve started.
Dig them up. So nothing’s left untouched.

Ooh
Ooh

All of your flaws and all of my flaws
Are laid out one by one
Look at the wonderful mess that we made
We pick ourselves undone.

Analysis

“Flaws” tells of two people, one who doesn’t hide her flaws and seems completely comfortable in her own skin, and another who buries his flaws and feels empty.

Let’s examine my favorite parts here.

1.) “When all of your flaws and all of my flaws / Are laid out one by one / The wonderful part of the mess that we made / We pick ourselves undone.”

This stanza puts the two starkly different characters on the same level, both exposed as they bare their flaws to one another. I love how Dan Smith (lead singer and songwriter) calls the “mess” of their flaws “wonderful.” Our flaws may be messy, but they’re deeply personal and they are a part of us. As a writer, I know the best way to develop a character is not through her strengths, but through her flaws. Flaws help us relate to one another and they shape our character as we either embrace or pick them off. When we share our flaws, we expose parts of our souls. When all our flaws are shared, we are “undone,” or untied.

2.) “Ones [flaws] we’ve inherited, ones that we learned / They pass from man to man.”

Our flaws can be hereditary or picked up along the way. Physical “flaws” (birthmarks, disabilities, etc.) and potential genetic flaws (alcoholism, some diseases, etc.) can be “inherited” while personality flaws (bossiness, pride, competitiveness, etc.) and other physical flaws (burns, scars, etc.) are typically “learned.” Either way, flaws only develop from other people.

3.) “There’s a hole in my soul. / I can’t fill it, I can’t fill it. / There’s a hole in my soul. / Can you fill it? Can you fill it?”

The protagonist, who has hidden his flaws, feels empty and can’t seem to fill it himself. He asks the other character who embraces her flaws to fill him up. This stanza is probably why people often interpret the song as romantic, but I don’t think that’s right. There may be romance between the two characters, yes, but that doesn’t make the song romantic. The focus remains on the relationship between people and their flaws, not flawed people.

4.) “You have always worn your flaws upon your sleeve / And I have always buried them deep beneath the ground. / Dig them up; let’s finish what we’ve started. / Dig them up, so nothing’s left untouched.”

Here is why the protagonist feels empty; he has buried part of himself away while the other character wears her flaws clearly. I won’t pretend I understand the reference to “what we’ve started,” but I believe he wants to “dig” his flaws up in order to fill the hole in his soul mentioned previously.

5.) “All of your flaws and all of my flaws, / When they have been exhumed / We’ll see that we need them to be who we are / Without them we’d be doomed.”

Ahh, here’s my favorite stanza. When the characters’ flaws “have been exhumed,” or dug up, they’ll see that their flaws are part of themselves. Without our flaws, there’s a “hole in [our] soul.” As I said earlier, our flaws are more defining than our strengths. This is not to say that we are our flaws (wouldn’t that be an ugly world); this means our flaws are the knives that sculpt our personalities.

Last little tidbit about Bastille: do you know where the band’s name comes from? No, they’re not French. Dan named his British band Bastille because his birthday falls on July 14th, the day the French celebrate the overthrow of their monarchy, also known as Bastille day. Speaking of the Bastille day, don’t forget to check back here next week for another Focus on the Lyrics Friday involving a popular singer, the French Revolution, and a far-fetched theory of mine.