I often wonder how many people actually know the lyrics to their favorite songs. Sure, it’s easy to memorize lyrics, but do you really know what they mean? And if you do, did you understand immediately what the song was trying to say?
My answer is somewhere in the middle. There are certain songs I’ll listen to and instantly comprehend what the artist is singing about. Sometimes, my first impressions are completely wrong, as are the second and the third ones. I have to listen to the song repeatedly before I can figure out the meaning behind the lyrics. Once I understand the song, I usually feel a bit silly for my previous thought processes, but I’m happy I finally know what the song is about.
This happened when I listened to “Love’s White Thread,” the newest single by UK band The Battles of Winter. Originally from London, this quartet practices what they call “fabulous noise,” a mixture of the post punk, alternative rock, and indie genres. The band is made up of vocalist and guitarist Alistair Gale, guitarist and master of effects Lucas Manley, bassist Graeme Dinning, and drummer Martin Good. They debuted their first album in 2014, “Standing At the Floodgates,” which received some success that began their still-growing fan base. Because of this, they quickly began work on a follow-up album, “At Once With Tattered Sails,” due for release in August 2016. As well, they have released a video for the single, which is a collection of recording shots as well as various images of written and typed letters. “Love’s White Thread” is the first release that will be included in this album, meaning it is a first impression for listeners to decide whether they want to stay for the whole album or not. If you enjoy this song, you are likely to be hyped for the album, which is great for any group, including TBOW.
Personally, I found the track quite interesting. It has a catchy beat, the vocals and guitar-playing are great, and the lyrics are intriguing. However, as I said before, I didn’t understand what the song was trying to say at first. When the song began, the steady drumbeat and guitar strumming made me think of music played during an old western film. The sun rises and the hero prepares for a shoot-off with the film’s villain. Whoever fires and kills first is the winner. I was even waiting to hear the singer go, “Ahhahh, wah-wah-wah.” Later in the song, a rock guitar solo causes the song to move from this western feel, but for most of the song, I had cowboys in my head.
The lyrics were a different story—literally. Much of the song contains lines such as “Dead handwriting/Messages left at the back at the book,” and “Asterisk’d titles/A ledger for services rendered.” For a long time, I looked at these lines and many others like them, and the images of cowboys in my mind morphed into editors. I pictured editors looking through works, editing and amending different parts of a book.
Clearly, I was on the wrong track, though I didn’t realize it until I read the video’s description of the song. It talked about how the band was looking back at people from their past, to memories they had long forgotten. After I read this and then listened to the track again, it made much more sense. The narrator was the editor of his own life’s story, amending the parts that caused him to hurt and remember old faces. Still, as he sings, he sees “footnotes in margins” and “the slant of the letters.” He can see that parts of him still care about these past experiences, even though he wishes to forget these sad memories. As much as he tries to edit them out, parts of them will still remain.
I found this message intriguing, which is quite fitting for this kind of song. There are often times we have regrets and miss those who have faded away from our lives. I have experienced these feelings myself with friends who left my life long ago. I miss them and our times of enjoyment. I want them back in my life, but my fond memories can be painful. I try to forget them so I can move on into the future, not worrying about the past. However, I believe the “white thread of love” the narrator can’t escape shows that we can’t get away from our pasts. The mistakes we make and the lessons we learn help us later in life, as do the relationships we once had. No one stays in another’s life forever, so we must cherish the time we have with those in our lives now. It took me a while to surpass editing cowboys, moving towards this conclusion, but like the song, I feel the lesson was worth it in the end. I am definitely looking forward to whatever TBOW will say in the rest of their album.