Drew Barrymore, in the movie Music & Lyrics (directed by Marc Lawrence, released in 2007), says something about, well, music and lyrics, that for me is as true as the law of gravity: “A melody is like seeing someone for the first time. The physical attraction. Sex. But then, as you get to know the person, that’s the lyrics. Their story. Who they are underneath. It’s the combination of the two parts that make it magical.”
I take this as a guideline on how much I appreciate a song. Sometimes I get truly captivated by the rhythm, and become insanely obsessed about it for like two weeks. But, as the lyrics don’t mean that much, eventually I grow tired of it and never hear it again. Other times I don’t like the rhythm that much, but the lyrics strike me directly in the heart and I start to hear it more because of what it says than how it sounds. Then I fall completely in love with it and hear it for years. There are the times too when I love both at once, and then I like the song forever.
I wrote this entire preamble to say that Adele’s new album, 25 (she is, by the way, 27 right now), released November 20, fits more into the second definition than the first or the third. When I heard it for the first time, I thought it was a little bit too depressing, too filled with melancholic beats. But – the but is essential here – I heard it while reading the lyrics, to make sure I got the opportunity to analyze it in all aspects. And the lyrics touched me, so much that ten from the eleven tracks went immediately to the Favorites list (the only one that I didn’t like at all, in case you’re wondering, is I Miss You).
So to express what exactly touched me in these songs, I decided to make a selection of the parts of it that meant so much to me. That way you can have an idea of what I am talking about, and maybe find it relatable too, feeling motivated enough to hear the tracks yourself.
Hope you like it!
That one you almost surely know, but well, no exclusions! I like the whole song because it talks about the things you regret you didn’t say, then you finally gather the courage to express them and it’s too late – the other part doesn’t want to hear it because they already moved on. For me, the part that best shows that thought is when she sings “Hello from the outside / At least I can say that I’ve tried / to tell you ‘I’m sorry for breaking your heart’ / But it don’t matter, it clearly doesn’t tear you apart anymore.” It’s a very sad and touching situation – one that I’ve been through (few people haven’t, right?).
Send my love (to your new lover)
I find this one quite relatable. She sings at a certain point: “I was too strong / you were trembling / You couldn’t handle the hot heat rising / I was running, you were walking / You couldn’t keep up, you were falling down.” How many times we feel we are investing in a relationship more than the other person?
I Miss You
The only song I didn’t like in the whole album. But, still, I appreciate it when she brings a universal feeling to the surface by saying: “I miss you when the lights go out / It illuminates all of my doubts.” Everybody’s been there, right? It becomes much too easy to believe in your insecurities when the night is long and silent.
When We Were Young
There are two parts to this song that touch me very much. The first is: “You’re like a dream come true / but if by chance you’re here alone / can I have a moment before I go? / ‘Cause I’ve been by myself all night long hoping you’re someone I used to know.” And the second is: “Let me photograph you in this light in case it is the last time / that we are exactly like we were before we realized we were sad of getting old.” Both parts talk about realizing how things changed and reminiscing about it.
I suspect that she wrote this song to her son, but either way, the lyrics have me almost crying every time. She already tells my story right away in the first few lines: “I remember all of the things that I thought I wanted to be / so desperate to find a way out of my world and finally breathe.” Then, before you have the time to recover, she strikes again: “When the world seems so cruel and your heart makes you feel like a fool / I promise you will see that I will be your remedy.” First she shows that she understands you, then, she offers solace. My heart always makes me feel like a fool, so I readily accept this warm feeling of comfort. Thank you, Adele.
Water Under The Bridge
This one is fantastic. It asks for honesty when it’s too easy to just not be. I love several parts of it. “If you’re not the one for me / why do I hate the idea of being free? / And if I’m not the one for you / you’ve gotta stop holding me the way you do”. Then, “I want you to be my keeper / but not if you are so reckless”. Then, “If you’re gonna let me down / let me down gently / Don’t pretend that you don’t want me”. Then, “Have I asked too much? / The only thing I want is your love”. For me, it’s like she’s saying: Come on, man. Don’t be a coward. Open your heart for this, even if it’s just to say that it won’t work. I can live with it; I just need you to be honest about it.
As far as self-descriptive songs go, this one is wonderful. It reflects on how your origins are always with you and will inevitably influence the way you see and conduct your life. “When I was a child I grew up by the River Lea / There was something in the water / now there’s something in me” – then, after a few more verses, she continues: “I can’t go back to the river, but it’s in my roots / it’s in my veins, it’s in my blood / and I stain every heart that I use to heal the pain / so I blame it on the River Lea.” Your past affects you, influences your decisions and the way you react to the situations that are presented to you, and then, instead of assuming it was your fault that you couldn’t handle it right, you blame it on the past. Human behavior 101.
Love In The Dark
I love the whole song. It’s one of my favorites, mostly because it talks about the need to move on. I want to put the whole lyrics here, but I’ll restrain by reproducing just two parts. The first is in the beginning: “Take your eyes off me so I can leave / I’m far too ashamed to do it with you watching me / This is never ending, we have been here before / But I can’t stay this time because I don’t love you anymore.” The second is during the chorus, when she is talking about the distance between them and how she can’t love him in these circumstances and she finishes by stating that “Everything changed me.” This is such a strong thing to say, because it completely destroys any possibility of fixing the relationship. It’s not a specific something that happened; it’s life that changed, and herself while dealing with it. And the most amazing part of it is that this song can apply to any type of relationship. A job that you loved, but grew sick of. A friend that was so close and now is not. Someone in your family that you can’t put up with anymore. A lover that you can no longer live with.
Million Years Ago
One of my favorites too. So sad, but so emotional. The chorus throws us off course with the reminiscences of youth. Which most people can relate to. “I feel like my life is flashing by and all I can do is watch and cry / I miss the air, I miss my friends, I miss my mother / I miss it when life was a party to be thrown / but that was a million years ago.”
All I Ask
They’re parting ways and, as a goodbye, she asks: “If this is my last night with you / hold me like I’m more than just a friend / Give me a memory I can use / Take me by the hand while we do what lovers do / It matters how this ends / ‘cause what if I never love again?” Unfinished businesses leave me restless about the whole matter, whereas an honest and explicit goodbye gives me the courage and the strength to move on. What she asks is very reasonable – and beautiful.
Love is the sweetest devotion of all. She pretty much sums it up by singing: “You’re the right kind of madness / and you’re my hope, you’re my despair, you’re my scope, everything, everywhere / The sweetest devotion, hitting me like an explosion.”
That’s it. In Target stores they’re selling a special version with three more songs, but I didn’t really like them, so I didn’t consider them for this post. I’m sorry if it’s too big, but I couldn’t stop myself. 25 has been out for barely more than a few weeks and it’s already breaking all records. And hearing the songs, paying attention to the lyrics, I see why. She talks about herself and her experiences, but while doing it, she also expresses what everyone else feels and lives through. Very well done, Adele.
In case you’re really uninformed about the whole thing, or is just missing the song now that you read so much about the album, here’s 25’s first single, Hello: