Poet W.H. Auden as soon as outlined poetry as “the clear expression of blended emotions.”
In that sense, some songs are poetry, permitting you to really feel one thing you couldn’t have described your self, one thing muddled and conflicted. Greater than that, they make the blended emotions lovely.
Two piano ballads embody totally different sides of this poetry: Nina Simone’s “Lilac Wine” and Mitski’s “Bag of Bones.” Whereas “Lilac Wine” finds disorientation in love, “Bag of Bones” takes that disorientation and tries to seek out surprise beneath it.
Nina Simone is the grasp of blended emotions. In her album “Wild is the Wind,” even probably the most easy love songs have a layer of melancholy. When she sings, “that’s how a lot I really like you, daddy” in “What Extra Can I Say?,” each single phrase drips with the difficult ache of affection — even when the lyrics allude solely to devotion. Simone’s coaching as a jazz and classical pianist shines within the songs’ baroque ornamentations. It makes each emotion really feel extra visceral: the thrills are larger, the despair deeper.
The spotlight of the album is the monitor “Lilac Wine.” The piano abandons its shimmering jazz trills for easy sustained chords. A minor key verse outlines an ambivalent hypnosis, as a lover loses management within the drunkenness of lilac wine on a “cool, damp night time”: “it makes me see what I need to see / be what I need to be.” Drunk on love, you lose contact with actuality however obtain precisely what you most crave.
When the easy main piano chords within the refrain hit, it’s a soothing however drunken aid: “Lilac wine is nice and heady, like my love,” she sings. Because the refrain develops, the uncontrollable hypnosis leaks into the beforehand easy sweetness: “I really feel unsteady… the place’s my love?… why is the whole lot so hazy… am I simply going loopy, pricey?” No bliss comes with out its price.
Even nonetheless, by the top of the tune, Simone accepts that the peril of affection is what she seeks. “Lilac wine, I really feel I’m prepared for my love,” she sings as her voice will get increasingly more faint. On the ultimate monitor of the album, “Both Approach I Lose,” she expresses that she suffers in love it doesn’t matter what she chooses. In the end, Simone accepts the bitter cup of blended emotions.
The proper sister album to “Wild is the Wind” is Mitski’s “Lush,” the debut album from the now-ubiquitous indie star. Whereas Simone turns any ecstasy into agony, Mitski mines her melancholy for hints of magnificence. The 2 artists see either side of the coin in each single thought: romance, embodiment, brutality, need. Within the songs, our bodies ache at the same time as they really feel the fun of dwelling.
Mitski writes from the sting of destruction. Within the album’s opener, “Liquid Clean,” she describes her pores and skin as “plump and vigorous,” however “ripe about to fall” and decay. The seductive piano chords are slowly joined by ominous electrical guitars and strings. In “Model New Metropolis,” she sings, “I believe my mind is rotting in locations / I believe my coronary heart is able to die.”
The lyrics in “Lush” are among the many better of confessional poetry. They don’t shrink from the self, however enable it to take form on the web page to be examined and accepted.
“Pearl diver / dive, dive deeper,” Mitski sings in “Pearl Diver,” describing a swimmer looking for magnificence at the same time as they embark into darker depths. She might very nicely be chanting to herself when she sings, “in case you didn’t need the attractive so badly / maybe you’d’ve discovered it in your spirit singing softly.” Mitski embraces the darkness that comes with depth as a way to uncover a pearl hidden at all-time low.
What does it imply to aestheticize each your ache and your numbness, each your darkest urges and most weak hopes? It’d imply holding your conflicting emotions collectively as actual, even when they’re not perfect. It prioritizes weak self-representation over the dangers of glorifying struggling.
No tune does this higher than “Bag of Bones.” The primary verse options piano notes in disarray as she describes marginal particulars of a hookup: her fading nail polish, the messy garments on the mattress, the sound of her heels as she walks away on the finish of the night time.
When the verse transitions to the refrain, dissonant particular person notes give solution to an nearly Disney-like ballad, with a predictable chord development and an easy association. Nevertheless, the phrases belie its sappiness:
Fluorescent retailer lights, you shine by the night time
Illuminate my pores and also you tear me aside
Mercy on me, would you please spare me tonight?
I’m uninterested in this looking, would you let me let go?
Fluorescent lights aren’t a wishing star, however Mitski pleads to them anyway. Uninterested in seeing and being seen, she needs to shut her eyes. One thing doesn’t let her let go, although. It’s magnificence — what the aforementioned pearl diver has been diving for the entire album. Even amid the cruel synthetic lighting, there’s one thing lovely concerning the picture: the glow of a neon signal at night time, the close-up of the pores on somebody’s face.
On the finish of the tune, Mitski sings, “Let’s shake this poet out of the beast.” That’s her mission: taking the beast of life and making poetry out of it.
At one level within the tune, the singer asks her hookup companion to open up a window to “let the cool air in, really feel the night time slip in / because it softly glides alongside your again / and I hope you permit proper earlier than the solar comes up / so I can watch it alone.” That feeling of the night time air on her pores and skin is the one pleasure of embodiment in the entire tune. At the same time as a lot as Mitski needs for her physique to be a “Bag of Bones,” the sensuous surprise of the physique by no means goes away.
In “Lush,” Mitski is a doomed face staring into the solar, bearing witness to a blinding magnificence. A bag of bones can nonetheless benefit from the cool air on her pores and skin.
Editor’s Notice: This text is a assessment and contains subjective ideas, opinions and critiques.