EMPTY

Artist: Ray LaMontagne

Genre: Folk

Notable lyrics:

She lifts her skirt up to her knees
Walks through the garden rows
With her bare feet laughing
I never learned to count my blessings
I choose instead to dwell
In my disasters
I walk on down the hill
Through grass grown tall
And brown and still
It’s hard somehow
To let go of my pain
On past the busted back
Of that old and rusted Cadillac
That sinks into this field
Collecting rain
Will I always feel this way
So empty
So estranged?
And of these cut throat busted sunsets
These cold and damp white mornings
I have grown weary
If through my cracked and dusty
Dime store lips
I spoke these words out loud
Would no one hear me?
Lay your blouse across the chair
Let fall the flowers
From your hair
And kiss me
With that country mouth
So plain
Outside the rain is tapping on the leaves
To me it sounds like
They’re applauding us
The quiet love We’ve made
Will I always feel this way
So empty
So estranged?
Well I looked my demons in the eyes
Lay bare my chest
Said do your best to to destroy me
See I’ve been to hell and back
So many times
I must admit
You kinda bore me
There’s a lot of things
That can kill a man
There’s a lot of ways to die
Yes, and some already did
And walk beside me
There’s a lot of things I don’t understand
Why so many people lie
It’s the hurt I hide that fuels
The fire inside me
Will I always feel this way
So empty
So estranged?

If being in love hurts a man enough to etch something so beautiful in our minds, hearts and ears, I wouldn’t mind falling in love at all.

Ray LaMontagne is an American singer-songwriter, who specializes in writing in Folk and Country songs, and has the hands of an angel and Wordsworth’s brain. He’s got the perfect hipster look, except he’s quite attractive and is a lyrical genius.

‘Empty’ is a romantic song about mourning the loss of a lover, either due to separation or death. The singer feels ’empty’ and ‘estranged’ after he’s been left behind with nothing but the memories of them. He goes to the places they’ve once been, and talks about how the weather that once seemed beautiful when she was around, is killing him now. Basically, he feels left out and is questioning us, the experienced, if he’s always going to feel empty. The answer is – yes. Sorry Ray, the after-effects of love are complicated. What is particularly interesting is the last verse, where he talks about how he’s so accustomed to being in pain that her abandoning him doesn’t affect him all that much. The use of words and the language is all really intricate and ambiguous.

Most folk songs have very few instruments, the most common one being the acoustic guitar, which is what is used here as well. A violin has also been used to accentuate the mood of the song: melancholy. LaMontagne’s raspy, country voice basically complements the song all too well. The song is an excellent song, fairly speaking, and deserves to be awarded with more recognition, if at least not a Grammy. Hopefully, Ray will rise to the top of the charts in the upcoming years; I’m definitely here rootin’ for mah boy!

SEDONA

 

Artist: Houndmouth

Genre: Alternative Country

Notable lyrics: 

Hey little Hollywood
You’re gone but you’re not forgot
You got the cash but your credit’s no good
You flipped the script and you shot the plot
And I remember I remember when your neon used to burn so bright and pink
A Saturday night kinda pink.

I’ve never heard of the genre ‘alternative country’, but that was how this song was classified and I can’t beg to differ. If at all I could, I’d call the genre of this song ‘folk rock’.

The song’s got a bit of a history behind it.

C. Schnebly was an enterprising young man from Gorin, Missouri who had married Sedona Arabella Miller. T.C.’s brother, Ellsworth, had moved to Arizona for health reasons, and convinced T. C. and Sedona to join him in red rock country. The Schnebly’s built a large two-story home that also served as the area’s first hotel and general store. T.C. saw a need for regular mail service, and organized the little village’s first post office. T. C. suggested the names, Oak Creek Crossing and Schnebly Station, to Washington, D.C., but the Postmaster General at the time had a prejudice for one-word names for postmarks. Ellsworth advised him, “Why don’t you name it after your wife?”

And that was how this place in Arizona, with its red sand stones, got the name ‘Sedona’. Remember, no song is without its significance. Every time I go on a spree collecting more information about a particular song, a genre or an artist, I learn something new and fascinating.

I’ll tell you now folks, this song’s got a great deal of metaphors and a careful reading in between the lines, research and consideration is what it took people to decode this brilliant song. What’s wonderful is how Sedona refers not to a person but the place itself. Apparently, Sedona was a prime area for movie shootings, back in the 60’s, before people went after Los Angeles. John Ford, a renowned director back in the early 20th century, has shot numerous movies in the place, owing to its beautiful plethora of sunset red mountains and natural scenery. The song is a dedication to the magnificence of the beautiful desert and not an aspiring actress back in the black and white era of making movies. After the creation of the now official Hollywood, directors deserted (pun intended) this place, hence the ‘little Hollywood’. How many songs you find have historically significant facts like this one? That’s what gives the song its substance.

I found this tune on Spotify (funny thing, this was categorised as Indie Rock), along the likes of Vance Joy, Angus and Julia stone, with their slightly folk-ish disposition and this song has been a favorite on my ‘road trips’ playlist, ever since. Listening to the song while driving into the orangish pink sunset is almost transcendental.

The video is particularly what caught my eye (I only watched it today). A striking minimalist film with picturesque motel – desert shots, all so relevant to the entire setting of the song, with the band members all happy and cheerful, going about their business and playing chess; a few concert shots in and there you go: a wholesome, eye-catching video with a wonderful dusky theme. If you could capture America in a video, this would probably be it (not that I’m quite sure). The Sean Penn-meets-Louis Tomlinson (yeah, the bloke from One Direction) lead singer kicks things up a notch, just when you thought it couldn’t get any better. Needless to say, the feel-good, retro-esque song is just as remarkable as its other components; The vocals are strong and perfect for the song, the electric guitar so accurate and the introduction of a stronger strums and thicker vocals, with a little help from his fellow band mates makes it ever-the-more appealing. Has the perfect band been discovered now or will they just be forgotten like a thousand other unknown ones? I sure as hell hope not!

CHERRY WINE

Artist: Hozier

Genre: Folk

Notable lyrics: Calls of guilty thrown at me
All while she stains
The sheets of some other
Thrown at me so powerfully
Just like she throws with the arm of her brother

But I want it, it’s a crime
That she’s not around most of the time
Way she shows me I’m hers and she is mine
Open hand or closed fist would be fine
The blood is rare and sweet as cherry wine

This is one of the most purebred songs that have been composed into existence. It’s the kind of song you’d bother yourself with, while watching the aesthetically pleasing (or beautiful as the Oxford dictionary might call it. just trying to add some substance into my material by sounding worldly)cherry blossoms on a chilly evening. The guitar tune alone make it convenient to listen to, on a cold, lonely night with warm, burgundy blankets wrapped around you, in a very cozy living room with wallpapers that match the custard drapes and the fire ablaze. The meaning behind this song, however, is sinister.

This is not a love song as you might mistake it for (just as I had misinterpreted it). at first, the video, featuring a cameo of an abused woman didn’t make sense to me either. it was wonderful that Hozier was trying to prove a point but what on Earth was he getting at?? was he just trying to get a pat on the back by seeming intellectually aware? it only hit me like a truck after I saw a comment underneath, that read

‘i love how to song talks about the male being the victim and the video the female – both genders suffer from abuse and its important people know that.’

So that was what he intended. The song is not just a well-written romantic sonnet. No. It’s a well-written romantic sonnet from the bleeding hands of a man who suffers abuse. He doesn’t use metaphors to describe how his love can sometimes be a bit mean. he uses metaphors to talk about his undying love for his love who treats him as if he were but a speck of dust on her expensive pair of shoes. from what I’ve heard, no matter how ill-treated you are, you’re still going to yearn after those initial butterflies in your stomach that asked you to make a compromise: a salubrious lifestyle. The former stages of falling in love is what makes you a prisoner; you will beg to stay put, no matter how much you’re being abused. the gender doesn’t matter either. It doesn’t only show how weak you’ve become but how dedicated, loyal and foolishly hopeful you remain, despite the torture. Love always comes at a price and sometimes, it’s more expensive than the rest. The song intricately comes alive as I re-analyse it with much trauma; it’s more ambiguous than you might assume.

Hozier, my man, has really outdone himself. to me, he isn’t even an ordinary song-writer anymore. to see through delicate topics (as with ‘take me to church’ and homophobia) and capture it with such perfection, is something only a true artist can do. this is the day when he rose from the intermediate shelves to serve a better position in my life: an idol. It’s only about time I start worshiping him with much stupor.  Hozier, for one, was born to be a real poet and in this song lies the proof. not many people can serve their purpose on the planet but I’m certain this descendant of Astrea will.

P.S: A message to people who’ve been abused in the past – you owe nobody anything and you deserve to be perfectly happy. Love is only love until it becomes toxic. abuse can be of any form: mental or physical  and the abuser can be anybody: a friend, a parent or a partner. you just have to remain strong and remind yourself that nothing matters more than your well-being. you have to cut off your venomous ties with the abuser and live life healthily.

AFTER THE STORM

Artist: Mumford & sons

Genre: Folk/alternative

Notable lyrics: I won’t die alone and be left there.

Well I guess I’ll just go home,

but God knows where.

Because death is just so full and man so small.

Well I’m scared of what’s behind and what’s before.

And there will come a time, you’ll see, with no more tears.

And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.

Get over your hill and see what you find there,

With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.

 

Mumford & sons are a folk band from Britain who have made the headlines quite a few times. their music is what can be described as ‘neo-folk’ or modified folk. they’re apparently not a family band, contrary to the name (most band names don’t make acute sense anyway). however, they definitely are a talented bunch of blokes.

this song is one of their less accredited ones. it is what can be described as ‘leisurely’ but meaningful. at first, you’ll hear a single instrument (probably an ukulele), which is unusual, owing to the usual string quartet accompanied with a majority of their tunes.

the song is a dulcet combination of wishful singing and can also be interpreted as a rendition of the infamous ‘we shall overcome’, except it’s about overcoming the ups and downs of a relationship. with lyrics like ‘And remembered our own land,
what we lived for.’ and ‘With grace in your heart an flowers in your hair’ explores their bohemian style of making songs. the singer, Mr. Mumford, has executed the song rather soulfully and has added more life to the already intelligent lyrics.

the artistry of the band most certainly can be exclaimed as ‘vivid’ and ‘unique’. contrary to popular beliefs, they’re not just ‘some stupid hipster band’. Mumford & sons is the kind of band whose records will sell for millions, in the future. with a ”Joni Mitchell’s intricate writing meets Bob Dylan’s folk-y outlook”, this is the kind of band I suggest you take seriously.  whether they are the biggest coming-of-age folk band can be a matter of debate. my argument? they’re definitely on their way.

 

SUZANNE

 

(so I was able to do THAT with this song huh….)

Artist : Leonard Cohen

Genre : Folk

Notable lyrics : 

Suzanne takes you down to her place near the river
You can hear the boats go by, you can spend the night forever
And you know that she’s half-crazy but that’s why you want to be there
And she feeds you tea and oranges that come all the way from China
And just when you mean to tell her that you have no love to give her
Then he gets you on her wavelength
And she lets the river answer that you’ve always been her lover
And you want to travel with her, and you want to travel blind
And you know that she will trust you
For you’ve touched her perfect body with your mind
And Jesus was a sailor when he walked upon the water
And he spent a long time watching from his lonely wooden tower
And when he knew for certain only drowning men could see him
He said all men will be sailors then until the sea shall free them
But he himself was broken, long before the sky would open
Forsaken, almost human, he sank beneath your wisdom like a stone
And you want to travel with him, and you want to travel blind
And you think you maybe you’ll trust him
For he’s touched your perfect body with her mind
Now, Suzanne takes your hand and she leads you to the river
She’s wearing rags and feathers from Salvation Army counters
And the sun pours down like honey on our lady of the harbor
And she shows you where to look among the garbage and the flowers
There are heroes in the seaweed, there are children in the morning
They are leaning out for love and they wil lean that way forever
While Suzanne holds her mirror
And you want to travel with her, and you want to travel blind
And you know that you can trust her
For she’s touched your perfect body with her mind

Where do I begin with this song and where do I proceed? what will I call this song but a masterpiece or a basic miracle? why does this song make me emotionally askew? If I could go back in time and ask the now-late Leonard what he was thinking or what he was on, I most certainly wouldn’t be reluctant.

From the beginning to the start, this song puts you into a trance of a beautiful kind. you can visualize a beautiful woman named Suzanne taking you to her house by the river and feeding you oranges that came all the way from China. Cohen’s mellow voice so impeccably complements the lyrics and adds more life to the song which induces a sense of tranquility in you.

‘And Jesus was a sailor when he walked upon the water
And he spent a long time watching from his lonely wooden tower
And when he knew for certain only drowning men could see him
He said all men will be sailors then until the sea shall free them
But he himself was broken, long before the sky would open
Forsaken, almost human, he sank beneath your wisdom like a stone’

How wonderfully the internal conflict in a god’s mind is explained. it’s very hard to decipher the song as a whole. it either makes no sense, at all OR is way beyond what our intellects can capture. this might sound extremely corny, but no words can truly capture the essence of this song, completely. The 60’s were truly a glorious period for making music. why do modern song-writers fail to come anywhere close?