Song Analysis – “Gimme Sympathy” – Metric

[I’m taking on a controversial topic, one that has sparked fierce debate and violent conflict, bringing the world to the brink of apocalypse – Beatles or Stones?]

Get hot
Get too close to the flame
Wild open space
Talk like an open book
Sign me up
Got no time to take a picture
I’ll remember someday
All the chances we took

[The speaker talks about taking risks. A flame symbolizes danger. The risk-averse close themselves off, but the risk-takers open themselves up. She says she has no time to take pictures. Taking pictures is a kind of luxury. It’s a sort of frivolous act. The impression she gives is that she has a fast-paced life where she’s always taking chances.]

We’re so close to something better left unknown
We’re so close to something better left unknown

[These lines convey a mood of adventure. She hints that she’s getting close to understanding a mystery of life.

I can feel it in my bones
Gimme sympathy
After all this is gone
Who would you rather be
The Beatles or The Rolling Stones?
Oh, seriously
You’re going to make mistakes you’re young
Come on baby, play me something
Like “Here Comes the Sun”

[This is about taking different paths in life. When she asks, The Beatles or The Rolling Stones, she’s pointing to something much deeper than musical preference. The Beatles and The Stones were rivals for much of their careers. People often compared them to each other. I posit that the two bands represent entirely different ways of looking at the world.  The Beatles represent peace. The Stones – war. Beatles – mind. Stones – body. Beatles – pop. Stones – rock. The Beatles had a solid middle class image. The Stones were “decadent outlaws.” (McMillian 2007 http://www.believermag.com/issues/200706/?read=article_mcmillian)

Notice how the speaker incorporates song titles into this stanza. The title is a mash-up of two Stones titles -“Gimme Shelter” and “Sympathy for the Devil.” Yet, “Here Comes the Sun” is a Beatles title.

A person has to choose in life. One path is conventional, peaceful, and calm. Another path is revolutionary, militant, and angry. ]

Don’t go
Stay with the all unknown
Stay away from the hooks
All the chances we took

[This part is a warning, but it’s unclear what the message is. It says to stay with the unknown. This reminds me of something they say in law school – “get comfortable with ambiguity.”  Humans have a natural inclination to simplify problems. But sometimes a person should just accept the ambiguity for what it is. The “hooks” referred to here could mean obstacles, traps, or dangers. The bottom line is this – you are the only person who can decide what to do with your life, be clear about what path you want to take, take risks, but watch out.]

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