It’s May 29th, and today must be the start of my New Year, because I’m making a resolution.
That fell flat.
I’m resolving to—at least occasionally—be more transparent about my writing. I found my niche in metaphor, and I tend to mask my intended meaning in implicit wording and shy away, then, from explicit lyrical or poetic content. I often neglect to disclose the meaning behind the words, because I like to leave it open to the interpretation of the reader (or listeners, should my endeavors ever turn musical, like I hope). Let your imagination run wild. Find a meaning that makes the most sense to you and which allows you to relate. That’s one of my goals as a writer. Another is to write in such a way that is evocative.
My last post contained a snippet of some lyrics I’ve been working on, for a song called Throwaway Phrases. I wanted to share what I was working on, as well as fill the void between more “substantial” posts—rather, subject matter that’s more in-depth and which takes more time to write, if you will. The good news is, since that entry, I’ve finished it. The bad news is, the root beer is in the fridge, and it’s over there, and I don’t feel like getting up. But I guess I will. Ugh. Please hold.
Okay, I’m back. Refreshing.
That being said, I thought I’d share the finished product now that it’s complete. I also had the idea to take a look at each stanza, and analyze it to its core. I’ll explain what I wanted to convey in my writing, and the guise under which I hid the true meaning. It’s all relative, I like to think. And the best part is that I’ve superimposed each verse on a cool, watercolor ass background, to break up the otherwise train of text blocks. It’s easier on the eyes, and I got to channel my artistic side, in a more literal sense.
See? Like that. 😌
Throwaway Phrases is about casually tossing around (hence ‘throwaway’) words and phrases without fully coming to understand their heft, depth, or true value and meaning. This could be due to naivety, and in the song, I liken it to someone who’s learning a new language, and thus doesn’t know the proper usage or the weight of their words. It is written from the perspective of the person being pursued, and chronicles their progressively waning interest in their admirer.
If you’d like to read it in its entirety first, without analyses interspersed, click here. Otherwise, let’s break it down, part by part.
Verses 1 & 2
The first two lines, I think, are rather self-explanatory. It brings to mind one’s attempt at using a recently-learned word or phrase in another language, but doing so inappropriately. The lyrics begin with the recipient of such throwaway phrases (e.g. I love you) retaining their composure, and being calm and understanding enough to coach their pursuer.
I’ll leave the oil out at midnight
to burn away the fever
This line refers to the expression burning the midnight oil, which means to work all through the night. I wanted to express here that the naïf in question is hypothetically losing sleep over his new love interest, and perhaps burning through the hours of the night trying to work out his true feelings. More specifically, the subject is accommodating and giving him the time to do so.
Bookmarks and paragraph prose
Syntax is defined as the arrangement of words and phrases to create well-formed sentences, so this emphasizes the obsession one has with saying precisely the right things in the very beginning of a new courtship, amidst the butterflies and infatuation.
Bookmarks and paragraph prose is based on my own habit of frantically looking up new French vocabulary, and subsequently bookmarking these web pages in my phone, after which I try to use them in my writing.
The final two lines of the second verse are simply ones of encouragement; it’s believed that the pursuer is on the cusp of grasping his own feelings in regards to the situation. As it stands, though, and much to the chagrin of the pursued, no.
I’m especially happy with the first four lines of the refrain; they came naturally to me and I think they flow really well. 😃
A launchpad in the margins
to propel you even further
While I’m reading, in English and especially in French, I make annotations in the margins. I highlight words, phrases, and concepts that I’m unfamiliar with, so that I can better understand and make sense of them, and refer back to them later if needed. That inspired the first part of the refrain, expressing that the suitor is taking (mental [or maybe physical, who knows?]) notes to help him along.
There’s no passion without conviction / without a little fervor is one of my favorite lines of the song. It’s pretty literal—passion requires believing in something (hopefully multiple things), and firmly believing in something means you have conviction. Fervor is another word to describe intense, passionate feeling. Redundant, or emphatic? You decide. (Hint: It’s emphatic.)
I’d rather that you not say …
It’s a rather throwaway phrase
The ellipses here represent ambiguity, and can be replaced with anything, really. You can relate this to your own personal life and experience by filling in the blanks yourself. Is it too soon for the person you’re dating to say that they love you? Would you rather your best friend not tell you she’s proud of you, if you feel it’s rooted in obligation instead of sincerity? It’s up to you. The line that follows hearkens back to the song’s title, and insinuates that the words have no real meaning or value if said tactlessly or carelessly.
Je crois pas que t’en es déjà là
Mais tu ne comprendrais quand même jamais
This translates to: I don’t think you’re there yet / But you’d never understand, anyway. Resentment is beginning to build and set in for our subject. While these words aren’t actually being said out loud to whom they serve as the object of affection, they’re rather an internal monologue, citing some frustration that they have to play the role of a teacher, thus offsetting the balance in this would-be relationship.
Verses 3 & 4
I did quite a bit of tweaking on these two stanzas before settling on what you see above, and I feel good about them now, as is. They’re a bit more metaphorical than the first two verses:
You’ll grow into the feeling yourself
Upon dispersal of your tanks
As soon as I wrote this, I knew I wanted to keep it, and build the following lines around it. Here, some continued internal monologue: the subject asserts that their admirer needs to mature naturally into any romantic feeling he may harbor, if that’s what’s written, and that it can’t be forced. Tanks in this case is a sort of abbreviation for think tanks, alleging that (internally) there’s a panel of people who do the thinking and bidding on the pursuer’s behalf. Not such a fun gig to be on the receiving end of, and now the whole of it’s becoming a nuisance.
(Turns out) a poetic flotation device
could help to fill the blanks
I love wordplay. A poetic device* is something used to enhance or intensify a poem’s meaning or message. I threw in flotation as an infix, to convey that the circumstance could very well make one feel as if drowning. The second line simply means that staying afloat, at the very least, could help matters.
*⚠️ Note: I’ve just realized as I’m typing this that poetic license better expresses the idea I was originally going for, but this still works. I’m not worried. Nope.
Nah. Not at all worried.
Uh, back to reality we go.
Try it like this, this time
wiping the slate clean of old
Guess what? If you guessed more word play!, you’re right. If you guessed chicken butt, you’re wrong. And dated.
Formerly, the second line was forgetting everything you think you know, but I played around with it to save a few beats, as well as to more closely follow the ABAB rhyme scheme. And of old expresses that same idea—that in order for this to have any remote possibility of working out, our naïf needs to dismiss his instincts, since they aren’t doing him any favors.
I see you’re making waves again;
the water’s pooling in my soul
Another line I’m particularly fond and proud of. Making waves means to make a significant impression, or to cause trouble. I think both apply here, and regardless of whether or not the subject wants to admit it, they’re in deep, and feeling the effects of it (hence the water’s pooling in my soul).
Home base docked in the footnotes almost repeats the meaning of the first line in the first refrain (A launchpad in the margins). More literary references, because I love that shit. Originally, I’d written Makeshift home docked in the footnotes, but I felt it was too wordy, and this edition came to me on the fly. It describes, again, the idea of figuring things out as you go along, in this case by way of metaphorically annotating.
Wherein they think for you builds upon that earlier idea of ’employing’ mental think tanks. Though the admirer means well, his execution doesn’t bode well for him, as it doesn’t come naturally.
I don’t know what that is, but I like it.
They feed you lines in nursery rhymes
and even dress you to the nines
This coupling, for some reason, gives me a bit of anxiety. It sounds slightly awkward to me, perhaps because it breaks to ABAB rhyme scheme I was working with. But, hey—that’s that poetic license I mentioned earlier. I’ll take it. 😏
The nursery rhymes bit reaffirms our suitor’s naivety, and contains a nuance of treason: his think tank has grown tired of doing all the work, and since he doesn’t know better anyway, they can manipulate him and he’d be none the wiser. Also, I enjoy the expression dress to the nines, so it found its home rather nicely here.
Since this is a refrain, after all, the following two lines are the same, with some slight aggression thrown in for good measure:
I’d rather that you not say …
It’s quite* the throwaway phrase
*Our subject has evolved their choice of words from rather to quite. Maybe earlier, they were trying to be nice and save face, but now, they’re mostly fed up. And the tension just keeps building:
Tu me regardes quelques minutes trop tard
Mais tu n’comprends toujours pas, non, jamais
This translates to: You look at me some minutes too late / But you still don’t understand, no, never. As I wrote this, I pictured our admirer looking to his love interest for validation, but to no avail, as they’ve already decided that this isn’t worth the undertaking.
This translates to:
“It’s in the bag,” they told me
But they fell silent when the words came out
You will never be more than a friend
And on second thought (all in all),
I don’t even think I want you as a friend
Unless you get your shit together
Get your shit together!
But you won’t …
Unbridled anger at its finest. The admired has made up their mind that this is much too big a headache to be worth it. Under the microscope, the subject initially had the support to pursue this courtship, but when it fell to pieces, so did the support system. The middle 8 serves as a definitive ending to the pursuer’s hopes and dreams, and hopefully sets into motion a period of reflection, so the same mistakes won’t be made the next time around.
Side note: there are six S‘s in rassaisisses. Just thought you should know.
If this were a song, like I’m hoping to turn it into eventually, an outro would follow the middle 8, I decided.
While parts were inspired by my own experience (and I won’t disclose which role I took on 😒), Throwaway Phrases is mostly a work of fiction. These lyrics have taken on a whole new life in my eyes, now that I’ve deconstructed them. I only just became aware of certain meanings and nuances buried beneath each line, and the story itself unfolded as I analyzed it. This piece has evolved from a hollow endoskeleton, to a full-fledged, full-bodied work of art, that it brings me immense, unparalleled joy to share with you.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this as much as I’ve enjoyed breaking it down. If you’re interested, I’ll probably do more deconstructing in the future. If you’re not, I’ll probably do more deconstructing in the future, anyway. Either way, I may choose to space out the writing and editing of these kinds of posts going forward, as this one took me about eight hours collectively to compose.
What? I’m easily distracted.