Thursday, December 13, 2018

The New Shakespeare: Music

When assigned the assignment to analyze a song for it's poetic lyrics, I honestly thought it would be a piece of cake. After scrolling through my playlists, I struggled a bit to find a song that was both meaningful and coherent, as well as awesome. I finally hit the jackpot when I came upon "Timmy's Prayer" by Sampha, off his debut album Process. Sampha begins the song with his chorus,
If ever you're listening
If heaven's a prison
Then I am your prisoner
Sampha seems to be addressing a past love of his, someone he wishes he still had. His use of an oxymoron represents the variety of feelings he felt during his time with this girl. He as mixed emotions, sometimes seeing his relationship as heavenly, and sometimes seeing it as a prison. Despite this, he goes on to say he's a "prisoner," symbolizing his devotion and willingness to suffer for this person.  After mentioning his inability to get this girl back, he starts getting very emotional and deep. He expresses his sorrow when he says,
My vital organs are beating through
My rib cage opened, my heart ballooned
I, I've lost another one
His choice of diction here paints a graphic image in the listeners mind, one that shows the struggle he is going through. It's not just any ordinary person he lost, but someone who he loved for his life. He now feels devastated and lost. What makes it worse, Sampha realizes, is the contrast between his old life and new life.  He says
Sunshine and blue skies, yes I recall
But now there's a darker blue
The sun sinks and you're not there 
Without his lover, he now feels lonely and without any support. They used to be "blue skies," representing happiness and love. Now, the skies are darker, representing sadness and loneliness. The contrast is so significant and it's all because of this one girl. Lastly, in his last verse, Sampha returns to the prison motif. This time, he changes the words a bit, saying
I wish that I listened when I was in prison
Now I'm a visitor
I came to the gates but you turned me away
This time, Sampha is flashing back to when he was in the relationship, referring to it as prison. He regrets not listening and being a "prisoner." Because of this, he's now a visitor with no connection or relationship with the girl. He's now on the outside, just like a visitor in a prison. Sampha's hopeless feelings about this girl are finally confirmed when he approaches "the gates," referring to heaven and thus his ex-girlfriend. Unfortunately, she turns him away, and he repeats one more time the chorus of the song. Although it's a sad and emotional song, the lyrics are able to come to life because of Sampha's diction, use of symbolism, and other poetic strategies. The listener is able to feel the heartfelt message he is singing to the fullest.

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