Karen’s Choice Explication

Many thanks to karen-the-great for sending this song to me.

Now for a song I don’t know. This would be rather like a cold reading of a poem or play. I need to read the song lyrics carefully and look for any details that will require looking up, etc. You’ll have to take my word on this, but I had never heard this song before, and I didn’t listen to it before explicating it. Why not listen to the song (since, of course, the music is ultimately very important)? I’m trying to replicate what happens when we are faced with a new text, one for which we have little to know context to work with. As such, even the music would (maybe–HA!) provide me with more insight into the words on the page. This did not preclude me from making up music as I read it; I am curious whether or not the rhythms in my head match those of the song.

So, let’s see what happens. I’ll post Karen’s thoughts on the explication if she cares to share them.

Song: “Maybe,” by Dayroom

Dayroom’s “Maybe” dramatizes the all too human conflict between knowing what we want to say and being unable to articulate it. Neither the speaker nor the addressee are named, though the song implies that they are perhaps new lovers, as they wake up sharing a bed after a “crazy” and now “hazy” night (10-11). While we are provided little insight into who is telling the story, we are very aware of when and where the song is taking place. The song opens at daybreak on a Sunday morning, as “the light pours in” (1); the speaker and the addressee are clearly lying bed, waking up in some emotional discomfort, as the speaker acknowledges being “a little uneasy” and worrying that the “word I’m forming” might “come back to haunt me” (7, 4-5). “Haunt” suggests a feeling of some trepidation over the word, as if it may move the moment from one of “light pouring in” to one of gloom (1).

Whatever the fear associated with the word, the early morning inarticulateness is perhaps a familiar one to listeners, and it is the most significant metaphor in the song. Precisely what is causing the discomfort and what word the speaker wants to say remains unstated in the poem; the speaker provides only the barest skeleton of details in the second stanza: “when we went to bed/When everything was crazy/Waking up it’s all a little hazy now” (9-11). This technique tends to invite the listener to participate in creating the song’s story by filling in the unspoken gaps—the speaker and addressee were drunk/giddy/fighting the previous night and went to bed only to wake uncomfortable/surprised/amorous—there exists myriad possibilities for a listener to self-identify in these details. The speaker hints that the story—whatever it is—is a positive one remarking that “I’m not so excited that I can’t say what I want to enough” (12-13). What the speaker intends to say also goes unstated, hinted at only in repetition of “maybe you could, maybe I could,/ maybe we could/ maybe we…maybe we…maybe we…” (14-16). There may be an unspoken eroticism (or at least romanticism) involved in the repeated “maybes,” as the speaker later mentions whispering these maybes in the addressee’s ear, which would seem to indicate intimacy (as would, one might suspect, the repeated failure to share the “word I’m forming” to the listener, as it is for the addressee’s ears only).

Several details in the song indicate new beginnings; waking up on a new day, which is also Sunday, which is, for many, the beginning of a new week. The speaker references the time of year twice; it is certainly summer, “Waking up, the summer’s always quiet here” (which seems to beg for different punctuation than is provided, as the comma seems too weak to hold together the disparate elements of the phrase); summer tends to be symbolically associated with youth, if not rebirth. The second reference seems to serve a two-fold purpose to the song: “Wish the world away, to come again another year” (23). Here, the speaker simultaneously confirms the “new day” metaphor in the “new year” and the desire to be alone with the addressee, to remain uninterrupted from their present state, which is apparently blissful enough to invite a repeated desire to “wish the world away” (23-4). Indeed, one of the most interesting structural details of the song, which is largely devoid of a predictable rhyming pattern, is this repetition, which seems to mirror the inarticulateness of the morning here described. Several lines open with “maybe,” “wish,” “waking,” or “when,” which tie the song together sonically (especially the repetition of the “w”) and serve to confirm the major metaphors of the song: uncertainty (or at least discomfort), newness, and intimate whimsy (as in the wish to be alone).


So, not too painful. I’m curious about what the song sounds like now, so I’m going to go have a listen and wait for Karen to laugh at me. I can’t find a preexisting web lyric sheet, so I’ll post all the lyrics once I have the complete copyright information.


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