“They heard a lullaby every time a part of her died in Silence.” – Akshay Vasu (via goodreads)
Whenever you ask someone why they like a song, they usually respond with one of two responses: a) the beat was catchy, or b) the lyrics spoke to them. It’s fascinating when people say the latter because despite being able to memorize lyrics easily, I generally don’t think about what the song is saying. Also, when someone mentions their favorite song, their friends immediately hop onboard the popular song bandwagon, regardless of lyrics. Though, when lyrics are mentioned, it’s usually by the hipster in every group who sticks his/her nose up at the lyrics because do you even know what this song’s actually saying?
Recently, I’ve been listening to Clean Bandit after a hiatus, specifically post-“Rather Be.” This is a problem for many bands: after their hit song, the subsequent songs just try to recreate their hit song’s success. At that point, it’s a sign that I should listen to other songs because like Francis Davison wrote, “absence makes the heart grow fonder.”
I returned to Clean Bandit with the release of “Tears,” featuring Louisa Johnson in 2016. This set the stage for the super addictive song, “Rockabye,” featuring Anne-Marie and Sean Paul. Clean Bandit aside, besides Sia’s “Cheap Thrills,” I don’t think I’ve listened to Sean Paul for the longest time, (i.e. since the early 2000s, when we had dance choreographies to his songs), so it was a pleasant surprise to hear his voice again.
In the music video interpretation, the song celebrates a mother simply trying to do her best in a world that doesn’t think highly of her, while protecting her child from the harsh realities. Even if you weren’t raised by a single mother, or even a single father, this is relatable to many parents who want to preserve their children’s innocent smiles from all the pain in the world.
Parents generally want to keep their children ignorant of all the behind-the-scenes work that’s required to make that possible. This backstage work may be at the cost of the parent’s pride – you can be the most prideful person in the world, but once you have a child, you are humbled or become humble. They simply want their children to not live the lives they had. No parent wants to see their children suffer; they would rather suffer instead. The pre-chorus supports this interpretation:
She tells him, “Your life ain’t gonna be nothing like my life (stay)
You’re gonna grow and have a good life
I’m gonna do what I’ve got to do”
(Stay out there, stay out there)
It’s important to remember that it isn’t that the parent wants to do something per say, but they must do what they have to do for your sake. It is a bitter bill for children to swallow as they enter adolescence, where their eyes are opened to the negative things in the world.
Seeing your parents suffer for your sake, while you get to live a life, only worrying about getting good grades, contributes to its own kind of stress to the child. As children, we know that education is the only way to escape this situation and save your parents from an uncomfortable life. However, it can be hard for many to focus solely on their future when they see their parents breaking their backs to keep a roof over your head.
My biggest takeaway was that what I thought I understood about my parents’ choices was only the tip of the iceberg. It makes me guilty of the times I berated my parents for being slow and making foolish decisions because looking back, I’m not quite sure if I can easily disregard their decisions like I did, years ago.
While it’s true that service workers, i.e. teachers and nurses, are grossly under-appreciated and devalued to a ridiculous degree, I think that parents have it worse. Teachers and nurses have a retirement plan and pension when they get old, but what’s the reward for a parent, whose child hasn’t realized their parent’s impact on their life? Parents are also extremely valuable service workers with an intrinsic value, but this leads to a subpar appreciation by many children.
the girl who is hopefully becoming more mature
p.s. Below is the music video for “Rockabye” if you couldn’t be bothered to click the link or you wanted to listen to this song while reading this post.