Hey y’all and welcome back to my blog! We’ve just finished a very exciting and fast paced project. This project was all about music and poetry. Our driving question for this project was “How can we use music to represent texts and ourselves?”, and our task was to create a playlist to represent us. In this project we were supposed to discuss how language makes us feel, and how it can shape us as people. We also studied some of the techniques behind poetry that helps us analyze poems, and understand how the language is shaped. To help you better see what this project is about, below is the link to my final YouTube playlist with the songs that represent me, although fear not, more explanation of the songs is coming up.

So Says I – The Shins The song opens with “An address to the golden door” (07-09) alluding to a better place, but several lines later “It was nothing like we ever dreamt”, a failure. This happens many times in the song, in every kind of scenario without any success. So Says I is a song about the wish for a perfect world, and the constant disappointment and irony that wish comes with. Because people are never perfect, no matter how perfect the world is, they’re not built to maintain it. People are not built to follow specific rules and are not meant to fit in the boxes of a perfect world “We've got rules and maps and guns in our backs, but we still can't just behave, ourselves, even if to save our own lives”, even with their lives on the line, and rules to follow, people can’t maintain perfect. I choose this song because I was fascinated with the disappointment in the song more than anything, and how people keep going after it. Everyone I know has been disappointed by someone, myself included, and I’m sure that I’ve disappointed others, and yet I still believe in people, I still want more from them. The people in the song believe too, they kept trying for a new world, even when it was so clearly doomed. Sadly as a part of their flaws people are optimistic, and greedy. They always want what they can’t have, no matter how much it disappoints them, and this is why that perfect world never works. No matter how flawless the world is, people will always want more. However I don’t think that’s wrong, wanting more is necessary, it drives us past our needs, to more interesting things. Without a desire for more, people are stagnant, and to me that’s a tragedy. The song shows no paths of success for perfection, and in fact it shows the disappointment that path leads you down, but people choose to walk it despite that, and that interested me more than anything, as the song says “so says I, we are a brutal kind.”

My reflection on So Says I was definitely my weakest in terms of this project. I didn’t fully meet the expectations for this assignment. My analysis lacks a strong personal connection above my interest in the song. Because of this, it fails to show how language can shape us and affect us personally, which is the entire point of this project. However I think my analysis of the song’s meaning was strong. I did research into the background of the song, finding out about the song’s reference to the book Utopia and the philosopher Sir. Thomas More, which allowed me to further my argument that this song referenced the idea of a perfect world. Although I think this was my worst work in terms of this project, the lessons and feedback I got from it were very valuable when writing my other song analysis, especially the feedback to improve my personal connection.

Speed Trials – Elliott Smith I hate making big decisions, I’m always scared that they’ll go wrong. I’m scared I’ll regret the decisions I make, and I never want to deal with the consequences of that. Speed trials always stuck with me because it’s a song about running away, but still always ending up where you started, which is how I always feel with big decisions. The song says “You’re such a pinball, yeah you know it’s true, there’s always something you go back running to” (1:35-1:45), The pinball’s connotation is with crazy erratic movement, but always ending up in the same place. No matter how much you run and move, or the path you take, the final destination is always back where you started. The song also talks about “Running speed trials, standing in place” (0:57-1:08), this is about the idea of running and not moving at all. You can run, and run, but without making any decisions, nothing changes, all your problems still exist. And Elliot Smith warns against that. He spent much of his life dealing with drug addictions and falling into harmful cycles, many of his songs reference it. This song is his warning against running away from problems, as they always come back to haunt you. This song has also stuck with me for many reasons, one of which is the way it’s sung. It’s sung in such a melancholy way you can hear the sadness when he sings. You can feel his disappointment in being stuck, something which I relate to. With big decisions like university, and leaving home, very near on the horizon, all I feel is like turning and sprinting in the opposite direction. These decisions matter, and will probably play a real role in the rest of my future, and I have zero desire to make them. Still I know running is not an option, because I’m going to end up in the same place, and running feels weak. I know I have to choose, but I’m angry that I feel so scared. Decisions are a part of life, and this song always reminds me in the most haunting way that I have to make them, because there’s no outrunning your problems.

My analysis on speed trials was definitely my favourite of the whole project. Not only was this my favourite song I chose, I also felt I had the most personal connection to it. Being able to relate to the song so strongly right now, and mirror it with a life event really made this a strong analysis. Being able to talk about my fear for the big decisions in life, and specifically the university decisions I have to make soon, made this analysis very personal for me. It was also the one I got a lot of input on during my presentation. People related talking about how they felt the same thing, and other people asked why I felt that way. Since the goal of our presentation was to engage our audience, I was happy that this analysis managed to engage other people, and that they were able to relate to it too. I think this analysis showed my ability to grow from the feedback of my first analysis, as I worked hard on forming a personal connection, as well as an understanding of the song. However I would still have liked to improve my mentions of poetic devices and how they enhance the song, since that would’ve helped my argument as to why the words of the song affected me.

The main thing aside from the driving question that pushed us in the project was the core competency, comprehend. This competency is all about comprehending texts and making bigger connections outside of the text. We demonstrated our ability to comprehend texts in this project in many ways, like the poetry quizzes, or poetry jigsaw. In the quizzes we were tested on our knowledge about poetry devices, and in the jigsaw we had to apply that knowledge by identifying those things in actual poems. We looked for things like theme, tone, and literary devices, in many different famous poems. However for the connections part of the competency The best example really is our final song analysis and presentation. This is where we showed our personal connections to the songs we choose. And being able to present them showed that we could understand and explain our connections to others, it also showed our ability to present ideas and engage an audience. Trying to find ways to engage others in your own personal experiences was difficult. I personally choose to make an accompanying presentation so people could look at visuals, as well as ask questions like “do you guys relate?”, so I could keep people interested.

My Presentation

The overall goal of this project was not only to answer the driving question “How can we use music to represent texts and ourselves?”, but also to consider the idea of how language shapes and influences us. Now I’ve always known language has an impact on us, duh i speak it every day, but this project specifically made me consider how much the language in music means to us. I love music, and my family loves music, but I never really stopped and thought about the lyrics in the songs I grew up with. So many of the songs I loved I had such important meanings behind them, that often really surprised me. Like messages of doubt, fear, and sadness is the most beautiful songs (like speed trials), and depth in simple songs I had never thought about (like Yoshimi battles the pink robots). The songs all sounded beautiful, but they also had something to say. And I was shocked that they had meaning to me outside of nostalgia. Music has so much to say once you start looking at it, and so much of that comes from the language it uses, lyrics are purposeful, and are often meant to contain so much more than what they truly say. I’m glad that I got to spend time actually looking at lyrics in this project, it’s shown me a completely different side to the music I spend so much time I listening to, and it’s been a great opportunity to question what has meaning to me. 

Thanks, Holly