Monday, January 19, 2015

Second Listen: Gold

It’s Monday again, and we’re bringing back Second Listen, this time with my favorite artist.

Gold (Owl City)

(If you’re having trouble with the video, you can click here to go to Youtube and here to read the lyrics. I’d suggest watching or reading before reading the rest of the post.)

This is a song that makes me want to be a writer. Funnily enough, when I had a discussion with Rob about the song, he gave me a completely different interpretation—for him, it was about acting. It’s more open than I had realized.
“Stand on up and take a bow, there's something there and it's showing. There's no need to look around—you're the best we got going.”
I love the way these lines set the scene. For one thing, it reminds me of Something Girl by Adam and the Ants (oh, gosh, we need to give that song a second listen, too) and secondly, that last phrase is written in the indicative. It’s an affirmation that you have his complete attention, and you’re worthy of it.
“Shout out to the dreams you'll chase, shout out to the hearts you'll break. Nothing's gonna stop you now; I guess you better be going.”
Again, these are words of encouragement. You’re going to do stuff. You’ll make your own decisions. And you have a life you need to go and live.
“I don't need the stars in the night, I found my treasure. All I need is you by my side, so shine forever.”
I’m leaving out some lyrics, but what you’ll notice is that he’s not there for what you can do, even if he keeps bringing it up. He’s there for you, and he wants you to shine as brightly as you can, because you are worth it—a treasure.
“It won't take you long to get when you feel like you're soaring, so write it all and don't forget: you gotta tell us your story.”
Writing words, again. But I think it’s a good reminder—the fact that you are gold isn’t enough. You have a responsibility, almost, to share who you are. What you are. You have a story, whoever you are, and it is worth hearing.
“Shout out to the friends back home, shout out to the hearts you've known. You gave them nothing but the best, yeah, and you can tell them your story.”
This gets me, mostly because I work hard and I avoid telling my stories to people I know. It’s a call to take pride in your work. To remember where you came from and to take confidence, because regardless of what you have made it is something admirable. And it’s okay to share who you are with them.
“You’re gold!”
And as for the last lines, however obvious they may seem: we equate gold with a high value. And so as much as this song reminds me of writing, it’s also meant to be an encouraging complement: you are worth it. You’re valuable. You matter.

The lyrics are fairly simple, at day’s end. The idea is the same throughout. But at the same time, the idea is incredibly complex.

In many ways, we buy and sell other people. I thought about this as I finished Undivided by Neal Shusterman; certainly, we can’t take people’s kidneys or hijack their corneas on the street (legally). But when you put references on a resume, or when you try to recommend someone’s blog or book to a friend, you’re making an assertion about a person.

And what I wonder is if we don’t get a person’s talents mixed up with the person herself.

We want people who can do math, or can design the next really great bridge, or create a cure for cancer, or do anything to work miracles on our greatest problems. We like people who are valuable to us.

But that’s the thing about gold—especially these days, it doesn’t do much for us. Sure, it’s in jewelry, computers, but the gold I’m most familiar with is in the museum downtown. The pieces sit in black cases, where there are stools and windows that people can look in and admire.

The gold does nothing. It sits there. And yet, we consider it valuable, whether because it’s pretty to look at or because we know that it is a metal with purpose.

It doesn’t do anything for you.

Think about that, but with people. Obviously, it is good for people to work, and to find purpose in their lives with their careers and their arts. We aren’t meant to sit around all day and think of nothing. We’re meant to do stuff—but if they do not benefit you, are they still valuable?

Of course they are.

 They’re gold. 

 They’re gold, and they don’t have to do anything to be valuable. They don’t need to be melted down, they don’t need to be hung around someone’s neck or bent into some strange implement. Gold has innate value.

So do we. And of course, it is lovely when our efforts are admired, and someone notices that, “Hey, you put a lot of work into this; you’re really talented.” It’s even lovelier when someone says, “Hey, you’ve done amazing things and I’m proud of you, but you know why I love you? Because you’re you.

And even though I love writing, sometimes it’s good to take a step back and say, “Yes, I write, but that’s not why I matter.”

 Stay gold, friends.

Flickr Credit: Susanne Nilsson

What stood out to you when you took a second listen? Did you find another meaning in the lyrics, or another special significance?


  1. Owl City is awesome! And this song happens to be one of my favorites :)

    “Shout out to the friends back home, shout out to the hearts you've known. You gave them nothing but the best, yeah, and you can tell them your story.”

    I love that. I want to be giving my best to everyone.

    1. I agree! I love this song too, obviously. XD

      I like the "Shout out to the heart's you'll break," just because I like to think I broke someone's heart once. I wasn't cruel then, and I don't think I should have been, but it is still a memory.

      Still, you're right. We should be giving everyone all our best, always. That's how we do awesome. :)


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