In 7th Grade, my English teacher, Mrs. Dahlquist, decided that a groovy way to get us interested in poetry analysis would be to have us analyze a contemporary song. I chose Killing Me Softly With His Song, by Roberta Flack.
Though I was a straight A student in English, I remember this being a humiliating experience. I somehow completely misunderstood the song. I'm afraid that poetry and song interpretation is not my thing, and frightens me. In situations like this I tend to get a wee bit over-analytical, and sound slightly officious, even though I don't have any idea what I'm talking about. Looking at the lyrics now, I can't imagine how I could have gotten things wrong, but I remember the very kind Mrs. Dahlquist writing a rather lengthy explanation when she graded it. I did NOT get an A.
And so, in an attempt to right my failure from the past, I, a middle-aged white woman, will now analyze a contemporary song for you.
I have chosen Young, Wild & Free, by Wiz Khalifa and Snoop Dogg.
Young, Wild & Free
Written by: Wiz Khalifa and Snoop Dogg
"Young, Wild & Free" by Wiz Khalifa and Snoop Dogg is an American rap song, which is, on the surface, a drug anthem, a celebration of teenage drug use, specifically the use of cannabis. But through the clever use of repetition, structure, diction, simile and irony is a paean to the carefree days of a lost youth.
The song lyrics are divided between two very different men. The first, voiced by Wiz Khalifa, aka Cameron Thomas, is very young and enthusiastic about his freedom and joie de vivre. His repeated use of the phrase "So what?" indicates a lack of adherence to cultural expectations. He is clearly reveling in his simplistic life, "When you live like this you’re supposed to party, roll one, smoke one, and we all just having fun." Living a relaxed, carefree time with his dear friends and having fun with the ladies ("Keep it real with my n-ggas, keep it player for the hoes.") while partaking in large quantities of illegal drugs.
The second man, voiced by veteran rapper Snoop Dogg, aka Calvin Broadus, is a much older man, looking back with fondness and longing upon a youth spent in the same vapid endeavors as the first man, but with the knowledge that his led a pathetic life during which he killed too many of his brain cells. The fact that Mr. Dogg is decidedly not young (he is 40), nor wild (he is a married father of three) and often not free (he has been arrested 7 times for marijuana possession, most recently on January 7, 2012) leads me to theorize that this part of the song is meant to be ironic.
Through a clever use of rhyme and simile, the older man laments the loss of his youth ( "It’s like I’m 17 again, peach fuzz on my face.") and the squandering of money ("Dippin’ away, time keep slippin’ away, zippin' the safe, flippin’ for pay, tippin’ like I’m drippin’ in paint.") And with the line "Oh my god, I’m on the chase, Chevy, It's gettin’ kinda heavy" the writer is clearly commenting on the man's advanced years by referencing Chevy Chase, a cultural icon of the '70s, and well-known pot user.
Throughout the song, the use of the simplistic, inane, irritatingly repetitive chorus effectively illustrates the influence of longterm marijuana use on the human brain.
In the end, the two men come together, while the older man sings of...a lot of things with initials ("T-H-C, M-A-C, D-E-V, H-D-3"), clearly representative of...the initialness of our world. And then they become resigned to their life of stonedness and choose to "roll one, smoke one, When you live like this you’re supposed to party, Roll one, smoke one, and we all just having fun." Which must certainly be interpreted as an analogy for the meaningless nature of the modern American teen culture.
Maybe I should have stuck with Roberta Flack.
The other day, when this song came on the radio while Jude was in the car, I quickly changed the channel, wanting to protect him from lyrics such as "So what we get drunk? So what we smoke weed?" Actually thinking the sentence "These young people and this terrible rap music!" inside my head. Later that night, when we were all sitting down to eat dinner, Jude started singing in a loud, happy voice "Everybody must get stoned!" Yep, Daddy had been listening to Dylan with him!
This post influenced by...
Prompt #2 - Analyze a popular song you heard on the radio…what exactly does it all mean?
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