Thursday, December 13, 2018

Woke Up Today

Jacob Collier’s song “Woke Up Today” is a masterful work both musically and lyrically. While “Woke Up Today” is (in my opinion) one of the most musically creative songs around, it is also undoubtedly one of the most poetic songs from Collier’s album In My Room. The song hinges around the speaker’s romantic experience with a girl. At first, they were engaged in a dreamy affair, but later the girl moves on and leaves the speaker. “Woke Up Today” focuses not on the heartbreak, but on the strength found by the speaker both during and after their relationship.

The beauty of the lyrics begins with the title. The words “woke up today” are used throughout the song, taking on multiple meanings as the music progresses. This excerpt is from the very beginning of the song:
Woke up today my mind awhirl
From head to toe with endless feeling

...and these lines are from the chorus:

I woke up today
Like I wanted
Since you walked my way
Found my strength to feel it

At first, “woke up today” takes on the literal meaning of waking up and becoming active after sleeping. Later “woke up” is used metaphorically to indicate that the speaker has become aware and experienced an epiphany. The transformation of the titular words mirrors and enriches the transformation of the speaker and his love throughout the song. Another important transformation in “Woke Up Today” is the metaphor of the sun and the day. The following excerpts (from different points in the song) could both be considered pre-choruses:

In my searching around
I've seen so many faces
Now I've found the one I needed
And the sun is rising

In this crazy old world
I've been so many places
Seen how we're all gonna need some shelter
When the sun is sinking

As the song progresses, the “day” in which the speaker’s life takes place also progresses. The sun goes from “rising” to “sinking” as the girl he loves moves toward and then away from him. By comparing his romance to a day, the speaker makes it seem almost inevitable that it should end. The metaphor also gives the speaker’s experiences a familiar arc, which contributes to the blunt yet hazy tone.

In addition to comparing life to day, the speaker also uses a motif of age, as seen in the two pre-chorus excerpts. The speaker goes from “searching around” to having “been so many places.” Although age is not explicitly mentioned, the language used in the song implies a progression of maturity and experiences that is suggestive of growing up. It is doubtful that in the span of this one relationship, the speaker has literally been to “so many” more places. However, the temporal looseness of implying that the speaker’s relationship lasts both a day AND a lifetime breathes complexity into “Woke Up Today.”

1 comment:

  1. I love Jacob Collier's music a lot and I think his lyrics are often overshadowed by the bright, punchy, jazzy chords that populate much of his discography. One significant aspect of this song is where it lies in the album. Reflecting the rising sun and the beginnings talked about in the song, this is the opening track to the album. I always find that little details like this can give such excitement to a dedicated and observing fan.