Thursday, September 5, 2013

Song Meditation: "Empty Your Hands" by The Weepies

I've been listening to The Weepies since 2009, and because of how consistently great their music is, there is not just a handful that stands out. It's more like their whole discography stands out among most music that I've ever saved on my computer.

I decided to look up the lyrics of one particular song today and found the lyrics so compelling that I decided to write about it. Maybe I should do this more when I come across songs with interesting lyrics.

Empty Your Hands

16 balloons against the blue, 
they're red,they're red like a dream come true 
Sure it was enough to give them to you 
to watch you let them go, let them go 

Empty your hands 
of overheard conversations 
Empty your hands 
static from the big bang 
and dinosaur radio stations 
Empty your hands 
genocides in foreign nations 
Empty your hands and look up 

His eyes are wide and beautiful, 
my own feel dull and old 
They can't recall some buoyancy, 
they’ve had too much to hold, let them go 

Floating past a daytime moon 
transparent as a shell 
Rubies in a well, sixteen apples on a tree 
we never would have seen 
if his fingers weren’t so free 

Our baby learned to run today 
in circles on the grass 
His joyful face it radiates 
These moments go so fast, let them go


This song, as I take it, is a picture of a moment, or moments with loved ones*, and the central theme is not attaching oneself to any particular thing in one's mind or in the past, but the beauty and the love that radiates within those precious moments. This becomes increasingly hard to do as we grow older, for we tend to get stuck on our stock of acquired default reactions and impressions to things. Deb and Steve look at the eyes of their child and feel old in comparison, because a child experiences everything as fresh, new, untainted.

The way they go from using "you" in the first verse to the chorus makes me think that they are also wishing this for their child, almost like a parent's prayer, wishing that their child will grow up staying light and free as he is in his present young age.

There may be times in life where thinking and analyzing things have their place, but once every little while, we need to step back and just submit to the present moment in order to enjoy the good things that are abundant in our lives if we only made it a point to take notice. The song beautifully describes the act of letting go of balloons, releasing them to the sky through the eyes of an imaginative child, and this simple act that can even be considered as wasteful if done by accident, becomes almost like magic, and invites metaphors involving apples and rubies.

Let them go, buuuuuuddy..
I don't think they mean to say that we should ignore the bad in the world everyday and stay ignorant of things to be happy, I just think that this song is about zooming in on a moment with a child, having a break from things that weigh us down to enjoy it, for we also will inevitably need to let the good moments go. So instead of holding on to the bad stuff, keeping them with you, letting them get in the way of you enjoying the present like children do, you let go. Like a sponge, you squeeze out all of the muck keeping you heavy. And then you get to soak in every new moment fully, deeply, as if you were new.

*Edit: I forgot to mention that it strikes me that in the story the child mistakenly lets go of the balloons that he was supposed to hold, and instead of seeing this as a bad thing, these awesome adults looked at the beauty of the moment and attributed beautiful accidents to the willingness of a child to let go... and wrote a beautiful song about it.

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