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Title: ‘Waves’
Where to find it: ‘Waves’ EP (2011, Dirty Hit), ‘Unfaithfully Yours’ (2012, Dirty Hit, later this month)
Performed by: General Fiasco
Words by: Owen Strathern

First, the words:

Verse 1
precious, every second you spent by my side
yeah, right
impressions, I don’t care to amend mine
okay, all right

Intro into chorus 1
tell you I don’t want nobody
no need to talk about it
seems to me that all this is for real
lose yourself in conversation
sorry that’s not entertaining
maybe there is something we could do

Chorus
and I go back
like a wave to the shore
I don’t think about you much now anymore
when I said that I wouldn’t go
I’m a wave, I’m a wave
I make mistakes

Verse 2
I suffered from boredom
this happened before
and I know this was not a great idea
I tell you no more
and you say that its over
at least this is something we agreed

Intro info chorus 2
tell you I don’t want nobody
no need to talk about it
seems to me that all this is for real
lose myself in conversation
sorry that’s not entertaining
maybe there is something we could do

Chorus 2
and I go back
like a wave to the shore
I don’t think about you much now anymore
when I said that I wouldn’t go
I’m a wave, I’m a wave

Bridge
and if I tell you, I tell you, I tell you
enough is going
over and over and on
sensing and let in
you brought it away
I know nothing you say will change a thing

Extended chorus, to end
and I go back
like a wave to the shore
I don’t think about you much now anymore
when I said that I wouldn’t go
I’m a wave, I’m a wave

and I go back
like a wave to the shore
I don’t think about you much now anymore
when I said that I wouldn’t go
I’m a wave, I’m a wave
and I go back…

Now, the analysis:

I had a bit of a hard time choosing what song to talk about on Music in Notes first. And then I thought about why I wanted to start this site: to show people that song lyrics aren’t just merely words. They mean something, whether they mean the same something to the songwriter or to you is immaterial. While ‘Waves’ seems to be just a “simple” pop song, I’m going to show you that it’s so much more than that.

I met Northern Irish indie rockers General Fiasco in Austin this past March at SXSW 2012, saw them play twice, and even interviewed them. At first glance, they are four very handsome young men; I’m not at all surprised at the screaming girls who flock to their European shows. But you will see as I unravel their song ‘Waves’ – released last year as the title track to an EP, but also appearing in their second album ‘Unfaithfully Yours’ out on 30 July – that the rule “don’t judge a book by its cover” applies.

The song is a jaunty, fun number, a style that General Fiasco has already cornered admirably in their handful of singles released already on Dirty Hit, including ‘Rebel Get By,’ ‘Don’t You Ever’ and ‘Ever So Shy’. I have to admit, even I on first listen to ‘Waves’ thought it was a done deal with the line “I don’t think about you much now anymore” – okay, simple. It’s a break-up song, and he’s doing the breaking. However, consider what waves are. Specifically, ocean waves. We’re all taught in high school science class that it’s the Moon’s magnetic pull that affects the tides, and this is supposed to account for the fact that twice a day there is a high tide. But you could argue a wave is never the same twice, just like there is no such thing as two snowflakes that are identical. The chorus before the previously quoted line, “and I go back / like a wave to the shore,” presumably refers to him returning to the girlfriend, the woman that the verses are directed towards. Waves come back to the shore, but never in the same way twice. Or again.

Consider “I don’t think about you much now anymore” again. This line in the chorus echoes the sentiment of verse 1. “Precious, every second you spent by my side / yeah right / impressions, I don’t care to amend mine / okay, all right,” seems to indicate he’s blase yet standing his ground. He isn’t happy with the way things are going and he’s sticking to his guns. His girl is ignoring him: “lose yourself in conversation / sorry that’s not entertaining”. And he’s even being nice when he says, “maybe there is something we could do.” This leads straight into the chorus, sounding jubilant in the way General Fiasco does so well. You could almost be convinced that Owen Strathern is going to stand by his woman.

But the cracks are showing in verse 2. “I suffered from boredom / this happened before / and I know this was not a great idea / I tell you no more / and you say that its over / at least this is something we agreed”: the two have agreed their union isn’t stable. The bridge further supports his thought that the relationship is over, or at least nearing the end, with “and if I tell you, I tell you, I tell you / enough is going / over and over and on / sensing and let in /you brought it away / I know nothing you say will change a thing.” That last line says it all: it is what it is, and this is how our relationship goes. End of story.

So does he want to stay with her? Does this relationship have a chance? I’m leaning towards no, because he’s already detected there’s a problem. I think the chorus of ‘Waves’, more than anything else in this song, is killer in its meaning: it’s the perfect distillation of being in a relationship and wanting more than anything for it to work. There’s something that keeps him coming back. While he’s left the door open when he sings, “when I said that I wouldn’t go / I’m a wave / I’m a wave,” it’s Strathern’s way of expressing a confused, and most probably a broken heart. (Guys. It’s okay. You don’t have to be macho all the time. But like real life, there still seems to be this inability for a good portion of male songwriters to be mushy.) That’s not all bad, though. Besides, chances are, it never crossed the minds of 99% of the people who have been listening to this song what this song is about. It’s just damn catchy! You’ve kicked up your heels and your hands are in the air, shaking like you just don’t care. And that’s what a good pop song does, right?

But he’s no longer thinking about her anymore. Ladies, if you hear your man say words like this, I hate to tell you, but I think it’s safe to say “game over.”

Update 18 July 2012: Owen Strathern Tweeted me with this explanation: its [sic] not particularly a relationship/girlfriendy song. More about going back to the wrong person for short spells. 1 nighters

Lastly, the song in General Fiasco’s official promo video for it.

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