2018年6月29日 星期五

Song Lyrics Interpretation: Vanilla Twilight by Owl City | EET Teri (English Lecturer, Enrich English Tuition)



Song Lyrics Interpretation: Vanilla Twilight by Owl City


Some of the good ways to improve fluency in English are to speak to people using English, watch talk shows, reality shows, and sitcoms in English (In my opinion, watching talks shows, reality shows, and sitcoms are better for fluency practice than watching movies because people talk more naturally here than in movies which are heavily scripted.), watching English movies (This helps if learners can distinguish which words or expressions are used in everyday life and which words aren’t.), and my personal favourite: Breaking down and analyzing lyrics of songs that I like to listen to. 
 
Often times, we listen to a particular song and think “I wonder what this song is all about…” “Do the lyrics mean something else than the words the artist used?” etc. etc.

Well, you’re in luck because I will share my love of doing this with all of you; and hopefully this will help you get to know the English language more. Together, let us try and interpret what song lyrics really mean –or what they mean to us because the interpretations may vary from one person to another.

The underlined words in blue in this article are all relevant links to the meaning of the words. You can click on them to help you understand the words better. I suggest that you listen to the song first (or a few times if you want to!) so you can get a feel of what the song is like before reading the article while the song is playing on the background so that you can really feel the emotions of the songwriter.

Here is a link to the official music video of the song:


The title of the song we are doing for this article is Vanilla Twilight by Owl City. Owl City is the pseudonym of an American Electronica singer-songwriter Adam Young. The song Vanilla Twilight was released in January 2010. I personally like this song because the melody is really soothing and the lyrics are not literally what they are in words so it is a very good song to interpret and to try to understand the deeper meaning of the lyrics.
But first, let us talk about the title of the song: Vanilla Twilight.

Photo Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vanilla_Twilight#/media/File:Vanilla_twilight.jpg

The word vanilla literally means a type of sweet flavour or scent that comes from vanilla pods. Vanilla is usually used as flavouring for ice cream or coffee and scent for perfume or candles. Vanilla can also be used as an adjective to mean something that is ordinary or regular but still pleasant. 

Twilight means the short time when we can see the soft glowing light from the sky when the sun is about to set –when it is not very dark yet but also not very bright and light anymore. (see photo) In this case, twilight represents uncertainty --about not being sure of something or of something existing only for a short fleeting moment then disappearing. So if we put vanilla and twilight together, the title probably refers to a period of time that is ordinary but pleasant and something that happened during this period only lasted for a short time but it is special even if it didn’t last long. (Click the words in blue to see the definition in Cambridge Online Dictionary)

LYRICS
EXPLANATION
The stars lean down to kiss you
Stars –In general, when the word star is used in poetry, it symbolizes something that is higher than us or something we adore.
So this line means that the stars are bending down to kiss someone (“you”) that is special to the songwriter. It also means that this “someone special” is not with the songwriter now because he/ she is already with the “stars”. This can mean that this person has already passed away.
And I lie awake and miss you
And while the stars are kissing this someone special, the songwriter cannot sleep because the songwriter is missing this “someone special” very much.
Pour me a heavy dose of atmosphere
The songwriter is begging to be taken back to reality because he is missing someone special that is not around anymore so much that he cannot sleep and he cannot function properly.
The songwriter wants to have a huge amount of realness slapped into his face; thus the phrase “heavy dose of atmosphere”.
'Cause I'll doze off safe and soundly
But I'll miss your arms around me
Doze off means sleep. Safe and sound means in not in danger and really well.
The songwriter is saying that, in time, he will still manage to be able to sleep well even without this “someone special” but that he will miss sleeping beside, on the same bed, and being hugged by this “someone special” who has already passed away.
“Arms around me” means being hugged by someone.
I'd send a postcard to you, dear
'Cause I wish you were here


Before we had smart phones and the internet where we can just upload or send photos of our vacation to our loved ones in real time, we used to send postcards to people we love when we travel. Sending someone a postcard means that you were thinking about them and you wish they were with you at that place and time.
I'll watch the night turn light blue
But it's not the same without you
Because it takes two to whisper quietly
Watching the night turn light blue means that the songwriter is ready to face a new day ahead but this new day will not be the same without his “someone special” because it always takes the two of them together to do things.
The silence isn't so bad
'Til I look at my hands and feel sad
'Cause the spaces between my fingers
Are right where yours fit perfectly

Photo Source: https://www.pinterest.ie/pin/389279961512391608/

Now, the songwriter is slowly getting used to the fact that he is now all alone in life. He is saying in this part that being alone (silence) is quite alright. But when he looks at his hands, he still feels kind of lonely because he can see spaces between his fingers and those spaces are specially made for his “someone special’s” hands. The songwriter is expressing that they are like two puzzle pieces: they fit perfectly together.
I'll find repose in new ways
Though I haven't slept in two days
'Cause cold nostalgia chills me to the bone
The songwriter says that he will try to find different ways to relax, be calm, and cope with his new situation but then he still hasn’t been able to sleep in two days because memories keep haunting him. He keeps remembering the old times they had together and it hurts him real bad and deep (to the bone).
But drenched in vanilla twilight
I'll sit on the front porch all night
Waist deep in thought because when
I think of you I don't feel so alone
I don't feel so alone
I don't feel so alone

Photo Source: http://www.wideopencountry.com/15-things-need-perfect-southern-front-porch/


The songwriter is very conflicted because he is feeling both sad and happy. Sad because the one he loves is no longer around. Happy because he knows that his “someone special” will always be in his heart and his mind.
He sings about “sitting on the front porch all night”, meaning he will always wait and sit and just think about all the good times they had together because when he thinks about this person, he doesn’t feel so alone anymore.


As many times as I blink
I'll think of you tonight

I'll think of you tonight
According to studies, on average, people blink once every 4 seconds. This part is where the songwriter is suggesting that he thinks about his “someone special” an awful lot.
The phrase “as many as” means a lot. For example: He can eat as many as 7 slices of pizza in one sitting.
When violet eyes get brighter
And heavy wings grow lighter
I'll taste the sky and feel alive again
Violet means purple and this color represents sadness. Here, when the songwriter says that when his sad eyes are no longer so sad and when he is able to lift the weight off his shoulders and fly again, he will be capable of living a normal life once more.
If we look deeper, it means that in time, when he gets better, he will be able to continue on and live his life like he once used to without being weighed down by the thought of losing someone he loved and still loves so dearly.
And I'll forget the world that I knew
But I swear I won't forget you
But even if he lost this “someone special”, life still has to go on at some point. We cannot live our lives being stuck in the past because that will do us no good. In this part, the songwriter is somewhat letting go of his “someone special”. He is saying that he will feel like he is living in a different world now but he will always remember and never forget this special person.
Oh, if my voice could reach back through the past
I'd whisper in your ear,
"Oh, darling, I wish you were here."
And so life goes on… but from time to time, the songwriter still wishes he could talks to his “someone special” and that he wishes that this person was still here with him.

In conclusion, this is really a bittersweet song about lost and life, about letting go and moving on.
I like this song a lot because it reminds me of my father who passed away 4 years ago; just in time for western father’s day which is celebrated on the 3rd Sunday of June every year which happens to be 17 June 2018 this year. This is different from Taiwan’s local father’s day celebration which is August 8th

{ End of Song Lyrics Interpretation: Vanilla Twilight by Owl City }

Author (作者):  EET Teri (English Lecturer, Enrich English Tuition/睿騏英語講師 Teri )

Publication Date (
發表日期): June, 2018

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