“Simple Song” by The Shins offers a good example of creative writing being used to create the lyrics of a song. The song was written by The Shins lead singer, James Mercer. It is written in a way that shows specific rhythm on paper with the use of commas to provide pauses, rhymes and near rhymes to create a poetic visual and sound qualities, and rhetorical devices to creatively disguise and blend the meanings behind the lyrics as well as making it easier to create the poetic qualities previously mentioned. The use of creative style in this example really allows the author the ability to send a poetic message to his wife while using allusions to secrets and feelings towards his relationship which work to suggest that listeners make these connections with their own personal feelings for someone they love. Also, another thing to consider when looking at the lyrics in this song is how the accompanying music affects the emotion and message that the lyrics attempt to provide. Listening to the song may make more sense than reading the lyrics without prior knowledge to how the song sounds, but for those who examine the lyrics in both contexts, it offers more of an in depth understanding for what the song means.
“Well, this is just a simple song,
To say what you done.
I told you 'bout all those fears,
And away they did run.
You sure must be strong,
And you feel like an ocean being warmed by the sun.”
In this first section of the song, the use of the creative style is very clear. First off, it tells the reader that it is meant to be a song in the first line. This makes it easier to be able to see the writing as having rhythm. It is clearly a message for somebody as it addresses “you” in the second line. Personification is used to create an image of the fears leaving the author by way of running. The use of this device really helps show the intended emotion of how the author feels emotionally cured by his wife without going into in depth problems or wordy explanations. In the last line of this first section, there is a simile used to provide the connection to a feeling. “You feel like an ocean being warmed by the sun,” creates vivid imagery of the sun beating down on the ocean. It creates a feeling of heat that the reader or listener can imagine feeling. The use of alliteration and assonance is also strong throughout this first section, and will continue to be throughout the rest of the written text. With the examination of these lyrics, it’s clear to see that the writer intended this song to bring up thoughts of a significant other to the listener.
The second section which I will be looking at says:
“When I was just nine years old,
I swear that I dreamt,
Your face on a football field,
And a kiss that I kept,
Under my vest.
Apart from everything, but the heart in my chest.”
This section follows the same rhythmic flow of the first section, but it doesn’t use perfect rhymes like the first section. Aside from the near rhyme of “dreamt” and “kept”, the last two lines are the only ones with rhymes. The end line rhymes of “vest” and “chest” stand out when looking at the section, but “apart” and “heart” in the last line also create a rhythmic connection. This offers a look at how dynamically the creative style can be used on a rhythmic meter. The ability to keep the emotional flow of the piece relies here on alliteration with the use of assonance and consonance to provide a similar link to the rhymes that dominated the first section.
The next section in the song is the chorus, which reads:
“I know that things can really get rough,
When you go in alone.
Don't go thinking you gotta be tough,
And bleed like a stone.
Could be there's nothing else in our lives so critical,
As this little home.”
This section may act as the climax of the writing. It very clearly points out who the “you” has been throughout the song. While in the previous section, the reader is able to tell that the “you” is a girl whom the author might be in love with. This section sends the message of a connection and overall togetherness between the author and “you”. It’s about wanting the other person in the relationship to open up and share the feelings with the author.
The section after the chorus brings several strong metaphors into play that create a more emotional connection between the author and the woman he loves:
“My life in an upturned boat,
Marooned on a cliff.
You brought me a great big flood,
And you gave me a lift.
Girl, what a gift.
Will you tell me with your tongue,
And your breath was in my lungs,
And we float up through the rift.”
The strong metaphor shows the relationship from the view of the author. He compares his life to an upturned boat on a cliff. This was designed to show that he felt that his life was going nowhere. His life had stalled, and with seemingly no future in sight, he was in need of a miraculous occurrence to give his life meaning. That is where he uses the girl as the metaphor of the flood. The use of the creative style here ables the author to use what in most instances is seen as a disaster (a great big flood) and turn it into a metaphor for what saved him from a life with no future in sight. The use of creative style here allows for interpretation for the listener to relate to their own lives. The creative style often implies meanings, which in the case of this song allow it to stay within the required time length to be part of an album. Trying to force a message into a four minute song does not allow for great elaboration or explanations for rhetorical devices that may be used.
At this point in the song, it goes back through the chorus again followed by the first section of the song. This is why I argue that the chorus contains the climax of this writing. It is important enough to mention a second time. Its context delivers the ideas of reaching out to the woman the author loves and also describes where they live as a home identifying the lasting relationship he hopes to have with this woman. The beginning part is restated to remind the reader or listener what started this conversation about this woman. It might be a signifier in showing that the author might have been trying to hide the context of the song in the first section. That is why he brought it back at the end. With all of extra information given throughout the rest of the song, this first section makes more sense and the repetition of it is evidence that the author wants to reiterate the points made and might fear that the first section may have been overlooked at the beginning without full context. The use of a chorus here also enables to show importance of the main idea by repetition. As repetition is a creative strategy, this song benefits from the creative style by being able to revisit the main messages as well as revisiting the emotions set up by the climax that was explored previously in the song.
Overall, the use of the creative style is perfect for using when writing the lyrics for a song. Creative writing allows the author unlimited word combinations and meanings to arrive at the message they intend to deliver. This particular song strongly used metaphors to provide alternate wordings and descriptions to accentuate the feelings the author had for the woman constantly referred to as “you” throughout the text. This would not be something used in the official or plain style. Both of the other styles would imply that the reader is the “you” they would be referring to. With the use of creative style in this case, “you” can be used to address a person separate from the reader with whom the reader then is able to incorporate as a character in the story. Also, the use of creative style is more specifically used to generate though by the listener into their own relationships given the experiences of the song writer. When somebody shares emotional feelings and personal experiences about a love one through writing, the effectiveness of using the creative style will often resonate better with the reader or listener.
By S.P. Michael.