Benson Hedges: An Analysis

For my first post, I’m looking at one of my favourite songs from “fun.”

Holy ghosts,
When do you come out to play?
‘Cause if the Lord is gonna find me,
He’d better start looking today.

Last week my baby hit the slopes.
I spent the weekend setting traps in the road.
I should have been cutting out my eyelids,
you’ll never guess what baby did when she got home.

Na na na na
Now at least the birds are singing to me,
but what they’re trying to say,
I don’t know.

(you’re beautiful)
I think they come from the cold
(for all your big mistakes)
I think they come from the cold
(you stayed the same)
to the city that doesn’t snow.

So I drove until we both broke down.
I was stranded in a border town
believing the motel TV would bring me to safety,
but between MTV and Mr. O’Reilly
I’ve come to find, that I can’t be defined
so I turned it off, now convinced I would cross
Took one last look at the gold
as it shattered on a mountaintop.

Now I believe the sun, it’s like a symphony.
But what it’s trying to play,
I don’t know.

(you’re beautiful)
I think it’s come from the cold
(for all your big mistakes)
I think it’s come from the cold
(you stayed the same)
to the city that doesn’t snow.

C’mon Holy ghosts
When do you come out to play?
‘Cause if the Lord is gonna find me,
He’d better start looking today.

So I can rise with the river
We all float before we sink
So pray for satellites,
Pray for courtesy
and pray that it can climb mountains to me!
I say goodbye to the canyon.
I will set sail to the streets
where I don’t care to be forgiven
I want to be forgotten.
I don’t care to be forgiven
When Lord I only want to be forgotten!

Now I receive a call from my family
and what they started to say
brought me home.

(you’re beautiful)
They think I’m beautiful
(for all your big mistakes)
They think I’m beautiful
(you’re beautiful)
for all my big mistakes.

Benson Hedges, my second favourite song of my tied for favourite band, “fun.” A band that is currently broken up for reasons that make it seem like they’re going to get back together eventually. Maybe I should have done Ah-Ha? Anyway, there’s a very simple question I wish to answer, what’s the deal with this song? What is it about? Is it about anything? Let’s see what I can infer from the song, Verse by Verse.

It starts with the closest thing this has to a chorus, he talks as if he’s triumphant, but the lyrics suggest that he’s deeply troubled. He asks the Holy Ghosts if they want to Come out to play (Lines 1 and 2) this could mean that he feels severed from his life, or those trying to help him, his Holy Ghosts, if you will. This is continued by the second half saying that if the Lord wants to find him, he’d better start looking today (Lines 3 and 4) this could show more of a severing of religion, though, again, “Holy Ghosts” and “The Lord” could mean those trying to help. Help from what, though?

The second verse, the music cuts out at the start, and Ruess sings a more melancholy way until line 7, where the instrumentals comes back in, more on that later. The way he says lines 5 and 6 makes a sense of sadness arrive, as if he either didn’t want “his baby” to go, or wanted to do something similar, I’m inclined to believe the latter, as regret for me tends to go on longer than jealousy for me. In line 6 specifically, it seems much more regretful, thinking “I could have done this or that instead of setting traps in the road.” isn’t that an odd way to put it, though? He’s obviously not talking about real traps, I’d like to think that this, coupled with line 5, is him saying that he set a trap of sorts for himself. He let her go while trapping himself in a dangerous place, the middle of the road. In line 7, he talks about cutting out his eyelids, I have a feeling that this was the narrator waiting for “his baby” to come home for so long, and not wishing to sleep, that he’d been wishing to cut out his eyelids just to stay awake. The singer starts sounding hopeful as line 8 comes up, excited to see “His baby” home, but considering how he never brings this up, it seems like it’s more anger than happy.

In verse 3, he says that “Now at least the birds are singing to me” (Line 10) along with all other lines in this verse, this seems to indicate that he feels so alone, that the company of birds, animals he can’t understand, is all he has.

In verse 4, he sings that he can’t understand what he’s hearing the birds say, while the birds tell him he’s beautiful, and stayed the same. I’d think that the birds are actually his friends, giving him some sort of encouragement that he ends up filtering out as nonsense to him.

In verse 5, he talks about breaking down, being stranded in a border town (Line 19 and 20). A border town is a town near a border of states, provinces and/or countries. The term can also imply that the reason this town has any fame is because of that, which could be turned around and said that border towns have next to no notoriety. This could also be a metaphor for his lack of purpose shown in this song. In lines 21 and 22, he brings up motel TV, something that is often characterised by the lowest common denominator of shallow shows. What makes this even more evident is the programming brought up, MTV and Mr. O’Reilly, MTV is a given, being thought by many to fall from grace after stopping production on Musical TeleVision. O’Reilly comes from “The O’Reilly Factor” which is on the Fox News Program, often thought of as a very unreliable and one-sided news program. Having these be the things he flips through, he stops watching entirely and, from the term “… Now convinced I would cross” (Line 24) it seems like he either was fearing crossing over toward or against them. Or perhaps, was too confused, possibly, at the time to make a thoughtful decision. In lines 25 and 26, he brings up taking one last look at the gold, as it shattered on a mountaintop, this is the sunset put in a very abstract way.

In the 6th verse, he brings up believing in the sun, it’s like a symphony (Lines 27 and 28) This could be him searching for meaning in the sunset as he looks deeply at it, but not being able to find anything.

In the 2nd chorus, it’s much the same as the first, though with a different outcome than the first, it jumps to the same part as the intro to the song.

In the 7th verse, the speaker is almost taunting these “Holy Ghosts”, by his more cocky way of singing this verse, along with the use of speaking “C’mon” beforehand (Lines 36-39). It could also be that he’s losing a bit more of himself, or others are sharing his plight, by the subtle chorus parts behind Ruess’ voice.

In the 8th verse, He takes a much slower tone with this last verse, making it feel like a last plight, saying that he’d had a good run, but he’d been sinking fast. The speaker is also talking about wishing well on others, possibly because of his troubles throughout this song, and not just other people, everything. He then continues to spiral into a deep sadness, with him repeating the lines “I don’t care to be forgiven, I want to be forgotten.” (Lines 47-50), Making it seem like he wants to die, or at least not be here, the subtle chorus also comes back in this verse. I’d assume the latter, considering that depression, especially for me, led to isolation from others, and he brings up setting sail to the streets (Line 46). He then goes into sadly singing ohh, woah, oh, na na na na, ohh woah, oh, na na, which are vocalizations that show him at an extremely low point.

In the 9th verse and 3rd chorus, he sounds hopeful again, after getting a call from his family, wanting him back, not away from them, making him feel wanted. And in the 3rd chorus, the main part changes to “They think I’m beautiful… For all my big mistakes” (Lines 55-59) Showing that he can understand that he finally has meaning again.

Now, before you stop reading, I’d like to bring up one more thing, this song is disjointed, no one part is like the other, even if it shares similar vocals, this was possibly done to convey a sense of unknowing, fear, perhaps, like depression is for me sometimes, a roller coaster where I sometimes just feel numbness, and it gets to be too much, I need someone to snap me out of it, it you notice, the instrumentals and chorus part, starting from line 51, are clean, and much more manageable than all that came before it, it felt like a proper, soothing ending to chaos.

Am I right? Am I an idiot? What are your thoughts on this song? Please, comment below and I will get back to you and your ideas on fun.’s Benson Hedges.  Remember, no opinions of literature are wrong, as each has their own unique perspective.

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