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Title: ‘Next Year’
Where to find it: ‘Beacon’ (2012, Kitsune [UK], Glassnote [US])
Performed by: Two Door Cinema Club
Words by: going to guess Alex Trimble, as I’ve never asked them who in their band writes the lyrics

My father was a scientist and he was away a lot when I was a child. I know a lot of this was unavoidable: he often had to go out into the field for one or another of his many expeditions, or he’d be called away to a foreign land for a scientific meeting or conference. I know these things, because even at a young age, with English as his second language, he’d ask me to review his slides and notes, making sure he was grammatically correct. Maybe that’s where my editing experience began?

I gave more serious thought to my father when my friends Two Door Cinema Club had to cancel their headline set at Latitude 2 weekends ago and a later planned appearance in Splendour in the Grass in Australia this past weekend. The reason for the cancellation is less important for the purpose of this analysis, though it struck me as intensely personal: singer/guitarist Alex Trimble collapsed on their way to the airport and needed immediate medical attention for “a chronic stomach complaint”. I met the lads in April 2010, upon their first visit to Washington; they opened for Phoenix, their American labelmates on Glassnote Records. We’d been writing about them for a while on There Goes the Fear and my cup runneth over with the prospect of seeing them live.

Four years later, I sometimes think it is insane that those three boys from Northern Ireland, so pleased to meet me and recognize me from my business card, are now huge stars with fans all over the world. I saw the terrible complaints from supposed fans upset with them pulling out from Latitude, and I reacted with same disgust as I had when fans in Europe hit out at them when they cancelled a string of dates in I believe Italy because they physically could not get to their next show because the roads had been blocked by a blizzard and it was too treacherous to travel. They’re human. What did you want them to do, wave a magic wand and be transported by fairy dust to your town?

Because of their star status, I haven’t actually talked to Two Door in person in a long while. But this lack of face time hasn’t changed my support of them; I know they appreciate me for what I’ve done for them as much as I’ve appreciated the music they’ve given to this world. This is where my thoughts of my father kicked in with the meaning of their song ‘Next Year’, and with that, the feelings I had when I had first heard the song became all the stronger.

Fans may complain that these three boys from Bangor have ruined their summer by not appearing at a music festival. But I wish those fans would stop and think for a moment who are they spending time away from all year long. Their families, their loved ones. These people, the silent, faraway, never wavering cheerleaders of these boys who I know work so hard for their dream of becoming rock stars. In that sense, ‘Next Year’ feels to me as the love letter, the Christmas card Alex, Sam, and Kevin write in their heads every time they have to be away from those they love.

People think being a rock star is the greatest thing in the world and it is in many respects the greatest job in the world. But I think the fans can lose sight of the fact that with great things come great responsibility. And great sacrifice.

First, the words:

Verse 1
I don’t know where I
am going to rest my head tonight,
so I won’t promise that I’ll speak
to you today.
But if I ever find
another place, a better time
for that moment,
I was never what I am.

Take to me to where you are,
what you’ve become,
and what you will do
when I am gone.
I won’t forget,
I won’t forget.

Chorus
Maybe someday,
you’ll be somewhere
talking to me
as if you knew me,
saying, “I’ll be home for next year, darling.
I’ll be home for next year.”

Verse 2
In between the lines
is the only place you’ll find
what you’re missing
that you didn’t know was there.
So when I say goodbye,
you must do your best to try
and forgive me this weakness,
this weakness.

‘Cause I don’t know what to say,
another day,
another excuse to be sent your way.
Another day,
another year.

Chorus
Maybe someday,
you’ll be somewhere
talking to me
as if you knew me,
saying, I’ll be home for next year, darling.
I’ll be home for next year.

And maybe sometime,
in a long time,
you’ll remember
what I had said there.
I said, “I’ll be home for next year, darling,
I’ll be home for next year.”

Bridge
If you think of me,
I will think of you.

Chorus
Maybe someday,
you’ll be somewhere
talking to me
as if you knew me,
saying, “I’ll be home for next year, darling.
I’ll be home for next year.”

Maybe sometime,
in a long time,
you’ll remember
what I had said there.
I said, “I’ll be home for next year.”

Maybe someday,
you’ll be somewhere
talking to me
as if you knew me,
saying, “I’ll be home for next year, darling.
I’ll be home for next year.”

Now, the analysis:

The first time I heard this song, when I was reviewing ‘Beacon’ for TGTF, I thought it was about leaving behind a girlfriend for the road to live the life of a rock star. Then over the last couple of months, I listened to it more frequently on the drive to and from work and came to the conclusion that it encompassed far more people than just a girlfriend. Now I’m convinced it’s a song to all of Two Door’s family and friends, the people who they miss while they’re pursuing their dream life, yet even in their young age (they’re merely in their mid-twenties right now), they realise they’ve had to give up another part of their lives to make this dream happen.

The first half of the first verse describes their whirlwind existence. As a music editor now with lots of friends who are either musicians or support staff to musicians like managers and roadies, I often hear stories of confusion owing to too little sleep and too much travel. The opening bars “I don’t know where I / am going to rest my head tonight, / so I won’t promise that I’ll speak to you today” are honest: the singer has no idea where he is so he is earnest in saying, “I’m really sorry, but I can’t promise you I’ll ring you from where I am, because I don’t know where we are going.”

Then comes “But if I ever find / another place, a better time / for that moment, / I was never what I am”: this is an acknowledgement that if he finds himself suddenly free to ring this person, “for that moment, / I was never what I am”, it means he’s had take himself out of this place where he is a rock star. This is one of several lines I find in this song absolutely heart-breaking. He knows who he is, at least in regards to his public persona, and even if he can get away from that persona for just a moment, it’s like he’s pretending he’s someone he’s not.

He is, however, adamant to want to be in this person’s life. “Take to me to where you are, / what you’ve become, / and what you will do / when I am gone”: he wants to know what goes on even in his absence, and even vows, “I won’t forget.” These lines indicate to me that he’s well aware of what his absence is doing to his loved ones. Very sad too.

If you haven’t broken yet by this time in the song, just wait for the chorus. “Maybe someday, / you’ll be somewhere / talking to me / as if you knew me, / saying, “I’ll be home for next year, darling. I’ll be home for next year.” This first chorus seems to be spoken by the loved one; he/she is hearing him say that he’ll be home for next year. If a full year has to pass before the next chance of this event, we could be talking about a birthday, Christmas, New Year’s, anything really, and I am sure due to their busy schedule, Two Door has missed loads of happy occasions (maybe some sad ones too) that took place in their family and friends’ lives.

When the chorus comes back around after verse 2, it is a two-parter. In the second half of the chorus, the point of view flips back to the voice of the song, “And maybe sometime, / in a long time, / you’ll remember / what I had said there.” There is a weariness to these lines – “sometime”, “in a long time” – as if he’s not sure if the other person is aware of the toll his life is taking on him.

But I’m going to go back to verse 2 for a moment for some more heartstring-twanging moments. “In between the lines / is the only place you’ll find / what you’re missing / that you didn’t know was there”: I read this as referring to the multitude of interviews the band does all over the world. It must be very strange to be reading the words of your boyfriend / son / nephew / etc. in a newspaper halfway around the world. At times it must feel a bit of a shell shock, like “he’s famous!” but also “I don’t know him anymore!” when things are revealed in these interviews with strangers that even they didn’t know. The loved ones are clearly missing them but these disembodied “lines” are their only connection until the next time he can pick up the phone and ring them. “So when I say goodbye, / you must do your best to try / and forgive me this weakness, / this weakness”: the weakness I suppose is in their job and the nature of their job, for they have to pick up and leave for a tour, or a festival, or to do into the studio and record.

More heartbreak occurs in the lines before the aforementioned second chorus. “’Cause I don’t know what to say, / another day, another excuse to be sent your way”: the loved ones must receive emails and voicemails with apologies about not being able to attend birthday and anniversary parties, weddings, etc. “Another day,
another year” is a resignation that this is their life. And it’s not going to change or end any time soon. (Not that they’d want it to, mind.)

The last bit I want to leave you with is the bridge: “If you think of me, I will think of you.” As I was a child before Skype, smartphones, and technology of that ilk and long distance phone calls were often prohibitively expensive, I had to wait until my father returned from his trips before I could speak to him again. Kids these days don’t know how good they have it, to be able to video conference in their parents and relatives from far away. After my father died, my mother showed me the contents of a briefcase he took on his travels. Inside were arts and crafts my brother and I had made as young children, including a yarn bracelet with plastic charms I’d made as a Brownie and string art on a piece of a cardboard I’d made a couple years later. I had no idea he’d been carrying these things with him all over the world, but he must have been looking and fingering these pieces and thinking of us when he was alone in a non-descript hotel room far away from home.

The bridge of ‘Next Year’ makes it obvious to me that Two Door are, like myself and my own father, very loving and sentimental folks. As I mentioned earlier, it’s been some time since I’ve been lucky enough to sit down with the guys and chat over a beer, but I still feel connected to them when I hear songs like this, because I remember the times we shared before they had hit it big and a song like this tells me they haven’t changed and they’re still the same lovely Irishmen I met years ago. Sometimes I think about how I wish I could give them a hug and tell them how proud I am of them and all their successes in person instead of telling them through social media. But then I stop and think that their free moments are best to be given to their loved ones, not me.

While ‘Next Year’ is a sad song, I think those words in the bridge save it from being an elegy of abject sorrow. The bridge serves as a reminder to all that even when it’s impossible to be physically in the same place with the ones you love – whether that be here on earth, or beyond if you believe that Heaven and an afterlife exists – thinking fondly and often of those people you don’t have can preserve that love within you.

Lastly, the song, in its live performance promo video. For less sensory overload, watch the band play a stripped back version of ‘Next Year’ at Coachella 2013 here.

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