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: 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.

French Music Video Friday

For any of you who didn’t know (which is everybody reading this), I love France. The header photo on this site is currently a photo I took at the palace of Versailles.

In my time in France and studying French in high school, I came across quite a few good French songs that aren’t choral. They’re definitely worth taking a look at, even if you don’t know French. I’ve studied French for five years and I still don’t understand all the lyrics (I know enough to say that they’re appropriate), but I find that foreign music is good to play while writing or studying because you’re not distracted by the lyrics; you can just sit back and enjoy the song.

And in case you were wondering, yes, this is a lazy post.

Why I’m Here (Literally).

For NaNoWriMo this year, I decided I wasn’t actually going to write a novel. I know that’s the whole point of the event, but there’s no grand story in my head demanding 50,000 words.

I still plan on celebrating writing, though. In the midst of exams, essays, work, and an attempt at a social life, I have little time to write. My pathetic goal is one blog entry every week.

So here I am, re-learning how to write about myself in a publishable manner while listening to the new Pentatonix Christmas CD. And that’s really all I have to say today.

(Apologies for the lameness of this post; I’ll work my way up to good blogging eventually.)