As a music aficionado, I really like a good song or album to cry to. After asking my friend to recommend me music for a sixteen-hour car ride, I was incredibly surprised by the existence of this amazing album. Funeral by Arcade Fire is constructed around the concept of aware lyrics that speak to problems many communities face and about issues often considered too taboo to discuss (issues that to this day remained ignored). Even if the genre of music doesn’t initially appeal to you, I would strongly suggest reading each song’s lyrics because they are beautifully written melancholy and doleful poetry. To give publicity to this album and band, I chose three of my favorite songs from Funeral and briefly described/analyzed their lyrics.
Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)
This is the third out of four songs in the album titled “Neighborhood.” Each one deals with a different snag on a “perfect suburban/city neighborhood.” Number three, in particular, spoke to me, because it calls attention to kids in particular. Although what specific problem it deals with isn’t incredibly clear, my take on this song’s meaning is that it’s about neglect and absence of parents in kid’s lives.
“I went out into the night
I went out to find some light
Kids are swingin’ from the power lines
Nobody’s home so nobody minds”
The song uses light as a recurring theme to symbolize innocence and happiness, and it uses darkness to symbolize the exact opposite. The last two lines of the stanza are pretty clear in meaning: kids are left on their own and must decide for themselves if they will make all the right choices or let loose and become reckless.
“Cause nothin’s hid, from us kids
You ain’t foolin’ nobody with the lights out”
Again these simple words have a whole world of meaning: it’s a reminder that ignored issues like alcoholism, domestic abuse, or drug abuse are never truly hidden from kids. Although each issue might not be completely understood in their developing minds, the emotional damage and trauma still have the potential to scar them, potentially affecting their mentality for the rest of their life. Kids are not completely ignorant to the adult world around them.
Une Annee Sans Lumiere
Translating to a year without lights, this song continues the motif of light being their idealistic childhood. The song has multiple lines in French, giving it quite a beautiful and elegant sound. As my favorite song on the album, I view it as pretty idyllical, being one of the only songs directly dealing with romantic love.
“La nuit, mes yeux t’éclairent (At night, my eyes light your way)
Ne dis pas a ton père (Don’t tell your father)”
Although “Une Annee Sans Lumiere” might be one of the least heavy ballads in terms of its theme, there is still extremely meaningful poetry to be interpreted. To me, it sounds like a duet between two people who have a complicated relationship because of disapproval of the relationship from the adults in their lives. In the song, the girl’s dad wears blinders, which can be interpreted as a symbol for the stubborn viewpoint he cannot see past, judging the male singer without any true reason.
Crown Of Love
“Crown Of Love” is the only other song on the album dealing with love, continuing on the theme that relationships are not always perfect nor easy. The lyrics present a pessimistic, but brutally honest, outlook on love. The singer goes back and forth between saying that the spark has ceased and that his feelings are growing more intense (which is an incredibly relatable stage of love for many).
“They say it fades
If you let it
Love was made
To forget it.”
I like to think of this song as the thoughts of someone who has seen love not work out before, whether it be by experience or watching the divorce of loved ones. It is the inner battle of fear to depend on someone and resisting pushing away while also wanting to stay. I recommend this to anyone who is or has ever been heartbroken: it will either make you cry or help you stop crying.
Overall, Funeral has rapidly become one of my favorite albums because of the intricacy of its lyrics and the honesty of the stories. I have cried so much to this album because of how perfectly unperfect it is, tackling issues that are quite relatable to teenagers. I highly, highly recommend it.