Solo – Reading update

Solo by Kwane Alexander has main character Blade Morrison in a tough spot. After his rock and roll star dad, Rutherford Morrison embraces Blade at his graduation as Blade was about to give a speech. This puts Blade in an already broken relationship with his dad. But during a party thrown by Blade’s older sister, Blade shuts down the party after it gets too crazy. His sister then in a fit of rage tells Blade that he’s actually adopted! Blade then is in search of his biological mother in Ghana, Africa. Before he leaves for Africa he tattoos his girlfriend’s name on his arm, only when he sees her one last time before his flight he catches her cheating on him with her ex. In shock he leaves in hopes of never coming back to Hollywood. The book is in the format of a series of poems that tie to the larger story. similar to Crossover, or Rebound (Also written by Kwane Alexander). The book is amazing and I highly recommend if you enjoy music.

Reading Update 1/20/23

Book: Daisy Jones & The Six

Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid (Author of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo)

Current page: 90

To start I’d like to say that the book Daisy Jones is an incredibly well put together novel. The Author, Reid, collected a wide variety of anecdotes and memories from the Six and Daisy Jones herself. Reid has organized these events in perfect order and spacing between perspectives. Daisy and the Six are incredibly relatable and honest to Reid. The way the so-called characters tell the stories makes it feel like you were right there with them in those memories. I fell in love with Daisy and Camilla right when they were introduced, and I think part of that is because Reid doesn’t cut out the dark and bad parts of their stories and let’s them exist as they were. Taylor Jenkins Reid has (so far, at least) done an amazing job bringing these people out of memories and turning their life into a fantasy, without any lies.

Solo reading update

Kwame Alexander’s Solo reflects the life of Blade, son of Rutherford Morison, a washed up singer of a famous rock band. During Blade’s high school graduation, as he was supposed to perform an original song to his class, Rutherford crashes it drunk, ruining both his and Blade’s reputation. This coming of age story tells the story of Blade through the summer before he leaves Hollywood for college. The book is in a poetic style of writing. and the format is similar to other books like Crossover, Rebound, and Booked (other books made by Kwame Alexander). If you like music, as well as coming of age stories, I highly recommend it.

The Heavy Song of a Heavy Heart

The song is “Brutus” by The Buttress, from the album “My Name Means Heavy (demo version)”. It is inspired by the play “The Tragedy of Julius Caesar” by Shakespeare, in which the character Brutus, a friend of Caesar, conspires to kill him with others. The lyrics portray the thoughts of Brutus, his inner turmoil about what he is plotting. One of the overarching, subtle themes in the song is the concept of heavy. The beat is heavy, and the words seem to flow with it, emphasizing in lines like “I hate the air he breathes,” “This death will be art,” “I don’t want what you had, I wanna be you,”. It also ties into the heaviness of Brutus’ thoughts, of murdering his life long friend and his own raw desperation, as in the line “so with a heavy heart I’ll guide this dagger into the heart of my enemy,”. And it all comes together with his name, Brutus, which he states means heavy. This feeling of heavy is intensified by the slow rise in volume over the course of the song.

Greed vs Pride: – “Biggering” by The 88

Biggering by The 88, a song from the album Dr Suess’ The Lorax, was one of the original songs that was suggested to the soundtrack. In the end, “Biggering” was passed over in favor of How Bad Can I Be, the more upbeat version. The song was created as a way for the Onceler to express his justification for the creation of his corporate empire at the cost of the environment. The reason for this switch is due to the fact that “Biggering” goes much, much deeper into creating a theme about greed and its cause, pride. 

The story goes that the Onceler started out content with what he had, but as business grew, he began expanding, he slowly gave into greed. The Onceler justifies it as “Pride,” but the Lorax responds:

I’m going to say this once, and I’m not gonna repeat it

Greed ya see, it’s like a little pet, alright?

And the more and more and more that you go and feed it

The more hungry it’ll get

The usage of both simile and personification in this shows that the Lorax believes that the Onceler can not solely blame greed for his increasingly rash actions, because the Onceler was the one who “fed it,” which has caused that feeling to grow stronger. It builds the idea that greed is a cycle that can’t stop unless the person stops giving in, which the Onceler did not.

The Lorax says that greed isn’t the root of why the Onceler is biggering. Instead, he blames pride:

You see, it’s gotta worm inside

Oh yeah, that’s right

It’s one that always needs to feed

And it is never satisfied

You get it?

But the more you try to find it

The more it likes to hide

Now listen that is nasty little worm

And I like to call it pride.

The “worm” hidden inside of the feeling of greed is pride. The Lorax shows that the reason greed is so powerful is because it’s hidden, so you can never see what is truly powering your actions. The way pride and greed are continuously referred to as living things is the Lorax’s way of saying how they can shift and grow, and how they almost seem to think for themselves.

The Onceler, however, tries very hard to justify his actions without calling himself negative things like “greedy.” At the very start of the song, he talks about how he was content as he was. 

I had a little cottage

And that cottage was enough

A place where I could sit and knit

A place where I could sell my Thneeds

But now I’ve had a little time

To re-assess my needs

The lyrics here show that very quickly his opinions on how his business should be run changed. The line about “reassessing his needs” was likely the very start of when he began to get greedy, although later he justified it as:

A company’s an animal

That’s trying to survive (survive)

It’s struggling, and fighting

Just to keep itself alive

The Onceler is comparing his company to an animal, yet again bringing in the same level of personification that the Lorax uses, but this time, the Onceler is saying that his company needs to keep growing to stay afloat. He calls it “survival of the fittest” in his own way of saying that his actions were reasonable. (They were not.)

Throughout the song, personification is used over and over to show how feelings are always changing and growing, and not always in positive ways. The metaphors are there to show how similar things like companies can be to those changing emotions. The song “Biggering” is meant to show how it’s so easy to slip into actions beyond what you can reasonably justify.

“House of Gold” by Twenty-One Pilots

Poetry is used everywhere throughout the world and in media. Almost every book, film, show, piece of art, etc. have hidden meanings placed into them. However, the piece that is constantly using key elements of poetry is music. While music may have all of these hidden meanings, people do not usually pay attention to these meanings behind the lyrics and even the instrumentals themselves. There are many bands that are able to use their lyrics for multiple meanings, although the duo, Twenty One Pilots are able to create entire albums based on a single story. This includes their song “House of Gold” from their 3rd album Vessel. In the song, there are many complex structures of sayings that can be analyzed much more closely. Twenty One Pilots’ “House of Gold” is a piece of poetry.

       There are many strong lines that are used throughout the 2013 hit, but only three will be presented. The first lyric to be analyzed is the title of the song.

She asked me, 'Son, when I grow old,
Will you buy me a house of gold?'

This line in the song explains how a mother figure asks her son if he would buy her a “House of Gold”. Poetry is able to make a strange sentence seem very deep and emotional when thought about. This lyric can be thought of as a mother wanting her son to become a successful person in life, which is indicated by the use of “House of Gold” which can be interpreted as making a lot of money and becoming wealthy. This is able to unlock the fact that even though the sentence at first sounded strange, it was able to be understood if it was looked at as poetry. Another lyric from the song is,

‘And when your father turns to stone,

Will you take care of me?’

This line explains how when the father is frozen in stone, the son will take care of the mother. This can indicate that the mother wants her son to take care of her when her husband dies. The meaning of these lyrics is able to completely change the tone of the song, from making it sound gleeful and innocent to dark and depressing. Lastly, the lyrics are,

And since we know that dreams are dead,

And life turns plans up on their head,

I will plan to be a bum,

So I just might become someone.

This line says that the speaker says that their dreams are dead and that they plan to be bum. This is able to be deciphered as the speaker explains how they became a failure. This ties to the previous lyrics, because the speaker now knows that they will have disappointed their mother by not being successful. They regret it so much that they even want to crawl out of their own skin. The usage of metaphors and sentence structures is able to make the listener completely change their perception of the song. Overall “House of Gold” by Twenty One Pilots is able to be considered poetry if looked at carefully.

Music Poetry(Clouds)

The song "Clouds" by NF is a quintessential example of a poem, proving that some songs do have a deeper meaning than you may think. To start the song, a line that appears to be nonsense plays, but in reality it is the phrase "Head's in the clouds" played pitch down in reverse. This hints that unlike other popular rappers, NF has kept his head down to earth and taken nothing for granted. 

As the song continues, NF provides several unique metaphors and similes to describe himself, including:
I'm Bruce Willis in a train wreck
I'm like trading in your car for a new jet  
I'm like having a boss getting upset
'Cause you asked him for less on your paycheck 
By using these poetic devices, he implies that he is different from others, by describing several other ludicrous and seemingly impossible acts. 

Later in the song, he sings: How could you doubt me? I've always delivered Ripping the teeth out of my mouth's the closest you get to my wisdom, which is a clever double entendre. In the next verse, he uses a hyperbole, overexaggerating and saying ("I pick up your body and throw it a block/Okay, I admit it, that's over the top, not!"). In conclusion, this song it more than just a song, using several poetic devices and demonstrating a work of poetry.

Balling After Heartbreak

21 Savage’s “ball w/o you” from his album “I Am>I Was” is more than a song, it is poetry. The album “I Am>I Was” is about 21’s progression in life and explains how he is now a better person that he used to be. The poem/song projects his feelings onto you and leaves you with a lasting impression. The purpose of “ball w/o you” is to express his strong feelings about a past relationship. He felt betrayed and left. 

The lines,

I'd rather have loyalty than love 
'Cause love really don't mean jack (Straight up)
See love is just a feeling
You can love somebody and still stab them in the back

use line breaks and vivid imagery to progress his story and extreme feelings about betrayal. He is showing that he is still getting over things, but constantly progressing to get better and better, which goes with the theme of his album.

The lines,

Valentines Day she ripped the card
And urinated on the rose petals (Damn)

are used to show the betrayal 21 endured in his past relationship. The line/s are not literal, he uses a hyperbole in order for listeners to lively imagine the love he gave out, and the falcity he received in return. 

The lines,

Middle school got my heart broke
Stop writin' love letters (21)

are used with imagery. Listeners can imagine 21 destroying or putting away all of his love letters and feelings after being heartbroken. The line connects back to the album by showing how 21 Savage felt like he could never love again, but eventually grows and becomes a better person by the and of the album.

Music Poetry “Crazy Story Pt. 3”

King Von’s Song “Crazy Story Pt. 3” is not just a song but a poem. In the poem King Von uses poetic devices to make you feel like you’re in the story he is telling. Crazy Story Pt 3 is a song in which Von is telling his friends a story that happened between him and his opps:

the double cross
Tryna get me caught
Like I'm Randy Moss.

This simile that Von says shows how he thought he had a deal with someone but they set him up.

 "I say, s***, I'm just coolin' b***, 
I'm not from 63rd." 

The use of 63rd is what Von uses a lot when he talks about his opps. So saying this is saying how he is better then them.

"Made it to the hood, 
everything went good Knock on wood,
flame me up a 'Wood
Tooka smellin' good, looked at my phone."

The use of knock on wood is Von saying how hes hoping everything is good after he had an encounter with the opps.

Piano Man – Billy Joel

“Piano Man” by Billy Joel, uses imagery to tell a story. Billy Joel is the narrator of the story that takes place in a bar. The refrain of “Sing us a song your the piano man sing us a song tonight well, we’re all in the mod for a melody and you’ve got us feeling alright.”, sets the mood by helping us imagine a crowded bar with a lot of happy people singing along with “The Piano Man”. The song goes on to tell us about the lives of the people in the bar. The melody is happy, but the lyrics speak of people, who in the moment are happy, but live sad lives. “Now Paul is a real estate novelist who never had time for a wife and he’s talking with Davey, who’s still in the navy and probably will be for one example of Billy Joel’s perspective of people feeling unfulfilled. There are many more examples of this in the song including the bartender who is “quick with a joke or to light up your smoke, but there’s some place that he’d rather be”. In the end, it seems as if Billy Joel is questioning why he, someone who people come to listen to, is in this place not fulfilling his dreams. This is captured in the last refrain when he says “and they sit at the bar and put bread in my jar and say man what are you doing here?”. “Piano Man” is a song that brings people together with its jovial melody, but its lyrics speak to sadness and the feeling of discontentment.

“Ride” By 21 Pilots

“Ride”Blurryface by 21 Pilots is a song to conceptualize, but the theme is also directly implied. I believe it is up for concept because of its indirectness in some areas of the song as the artist uses personification on objects such as the sun to create metaphors of what i infer is the song artists minds and complex thinking. The literary devices used in the indirect areas of the song makes it feel powerful and gives you the same feeling of complex thinking that the artists could be trying to get the consumers/ audience to relate to. I also believe it is directly implied because the 21 pilots are literally explaining their thoughts, feelings and complex feelings within the lyrics.

My concept of the song is a deep indication on the artists minds and complex thinking because of the first (indirect) six striking lines in the lyrics . ” i just wanna stay in the sun where i find, i know its hard sometimes. Pieces of peace in the sun’s peace of mind, i know it’s hard sometimes. Yeah, i think about the end just way too much, but its fun to fantasize” These lyrics indicate that the song is up for complex conception and the show the speakers wanting of what i infer is to stay on earth ( “i just wanna stay in the sun”) and is aware of the troubles and small “pieces of peace” but has the understanding that it will come to an end and is ready for it (“But its fun to fantasize”).

“I’d die for you” that’s easy to say, We have a list of people that we would take, A bullet for them, a bullet for you, A bullet for everybody in this room, But I don’t seem to see many bullets coming through, See many bullets coming through, Metaphorically, I’m the man But literally, I don’t know what I’d do

“I’d live for you” and that’s hard to do, Even harder to say, when you know it’s not true, Even harder to write, when you know that’s a lie, There were people back home who tried talking to you, But then you ignore them still, All these questions they’re for real, like “Who would you live for?” “Who would you die for?”
And “Would you ever kill?”

These lyrics indicate that the song is quite direct, and with this, the artists or audience may believe the theme of the song “Ride” is about the journey of life. Throughout the song, the artist’s lyrics indicate that he feels like dying is easy, but to find something or someone to live for is life’s challenge, also relating to the quote “easier said than done” by an extent.

Analyzing Music Dying: “American Pie”

The song that shows poetry is “American Pie” by Don McLean. This shows poetry in the way that the song has a deeper meaning. The first example is the line

Can Music save your mortal soul?

That is saying that Music is the replacement for religion. The song starts off with him as a boy delivering papers and talks about how music had died.

I can't remember if I cried 
When I read about his widowed bride, 
But something touched me deep inside, 
The day the music died

This expresses emotion and uses the literary device of Imagery when talking about delivering the paper. The line “

Oh, and as I watched him on the stage, 
My hands were clenched in fists of rage
No angel born in Hell
Could break that Satan's spell
And as the flames climbed high into the night
To light the sacrificial rite
I saw Satan laughing with delight
The day the music died

That line says that the devil must have had something to do with music dying and how it was such a tragedy.

More Class Blogs

For many years, we used the Blogger platform for my classes. Since it is owned by Google, it integrates pretty seamlessly with your Google accounts — which made it easy to use, in some respects — but it is a very limited and bug-ridden platform. So we have decided to construct a new class blog from scratch using the most more powerful and stable WordPress platform.

If you are interested, though, in seeing what past American Studies students have been thinking and writing about, feel free to wander over to Take Control of Your Culture.

You can also check out my senior AP Lit students who are presently blogging over at Story Power.