Weyes Blood, “Generation Why”
The YOLO Dissection
Picture this: a zinfandel-red Toyota Prius cutting by means of late-October fog. About it, burnt autumn cornfields pepper the horizon with droopy stalks, nonetheless and half-frozen, like faceless crowds of naked stick figure scarecrows.
Halloween weekend 2016 was about to commence, and I was driving by way of Fantastic Barrington, Massachusetts, on my way to go to the upstate New York college that I’d graduated from the year before.
I had a half-tank of gas, freshly-filled tires, and a quickly-disappearing package of Eclipse winterfrost chewing gum, which is the excellent gum for driving because the plastic clamshell packaging signifies you do not have to deal with a wrapper when taking out two pieces (by no means just one particular) with only your right hand.
It was mid-afternoon, and despite the fact that it wasn’t especially sunny, I was wearing sunglasses. My Spotify playlist, “To Listen To,” which I’d updated that morning, was saved to my telephone. Weyes Blood’s album, Front Row Seat to Earth, had begun playing twenty miles earlier.
I’d been struck, initially, by the album’s title, after seeing mention of it on a music blog. Natalie Mering (who performs below the moniker Weyes Blood) almost certainly intended it as a dig at the generally-agreed-upon tragedy that is the “social” side of social media, exactly where men and women have swapped physical, human connection with wi-fi-enabled virtual connection, content to view the highlight reels of close friends lives from the front row seats of their couches.
As a young journalist, though, I interpreted the title as asking a query about the position of the writer. Writers are, by our extremely nature, observers. We see or hear or feel anything, permit it to live within us, and, when we (or our deadlines) make a decision it is time, we try to translate the essence of what we have skilled into words on a page. This is its own type of front row seat: by experiencing one thing with the intention of later writing about it, we begin to focus more on the telling of the story than the living of the story.
Nowadays, that way of life has become the norm, regardless of a person’s profession. Facebook has transformed us all into journalists covering our personal lives. We upload brief digest pieces every day, gradually compiling material for cover stories completed over the course of a lifetime, published the moment we die.
“Generation Why,” which sits like a ballast at the center of Front Row Seat, gives religious gravity to a widespread phrase. The song starts with a spooky choir, whose voices have been digitally manipulated and autotuned – the sonic equivalent of a stadium church’s tv screen. From a sweet hum types language, numerous voices asking the question: “Y-O-L-O, why?” You only live as soon as. Here, Mering reaches into the most disposable, seemingly absurd saying of recent pop-culture memory and produces from it a some thing profound: the query of why our generation views “you only reside once” as a comforting idea. It’s a stirring query taken from a trite saying – proof of language’s power to reflect unconscious truths about these who speak it.
“Generation Why” becomes an ode to utilizing an acceptance of death as a explanation to take pleasure in life. “It’s not the previous that scares me,” Mering sings, “Now what a great future this is gonna be.” To Mering, “YOLO” delivers spiritual liberation. And “Generation Why” is a spiritual song certainly its choir projects as though from a pulpit, and the arpeggios of the song’s primary melody – played 1st on guitar, then on piano and organ – bear a striking resemblance to Schubert’s “Ave Maria.”
That “Generation Why” had such a profound effect on me when I 1st heard it probably had something to do with the situation I was in: driving a car from my present (New York City) to my previous (college). A reminder to live in the moment was surely needed I was in a no man’s land in between my personal previous and present.
Like all excellent songs, “Generation Why” has revealed new depths of meaning more than time. The presidential election came just over a week right after my solitary initial listen, replacing the controlled nightmare of Halloween with a significantly less predictable, significantly less short-term one. In the days following the eighth of November, “Generation Why” hung in my mind. I’d hear Mering sing “carry me by means of the waves of modify,” and see the sentiment echoed in President Obama’s words on change: “Societies and cultures are genuinely complicated…This is not mathematics this is biology and chemistry. These are living organisms, and it’s messy.” In other words, alter comes in waves.
We can understand from the cultural questioning at the heart of “Generation Why.” Let us ask ourselves why we say the factors that we say, beyond “YOLO.” Let us appear for unconscious truths in other pieces of ourselves – in the approaches we live, and in what we say. Let us treat the present moment as even though we are fresh graduates, viewing our old selves and selecting what to preserve. Let us contemplate how we can turn out to be a far better version of that individual, how we can create the planet that we want. Such self-assessments feel particularly critical now, as we appear to the future, hoping for adjust, desperately searching for approaches to produce waves of our own.
– Gabe Cohn
Gabe previously wrote for OWOB about Jack White.