Three of my favorite songs from 2019 were written by an Australian songwriter named Toni Watson, known professionally as Tones & I.
When I listen to them, and after reading about the origin of the songs, as well as looking up the lyrics to each one, I get the impression that people are hearing something different from what I am hearing (also something different than what she intended to convey when she wrote them).
The three songs are:
1. Dance Monkey
3. Johnny Run Away
They're all excellent songs, with superb production, and interestingly enough, each one tells a story.
What's interesting about Dance Monkey is that it was one of the biggest pop songs of the year and therefore played with nearly autistic frequency on countless radio stations and whose music video has garnered more than 1.5B views.
Some impressive stats from her website:
I have to hand it to the producer of this song. When all instruments drop out except the bass, the song is sublime. The production here is top-notch.
The impression I get from all of this celebration of the song is that Dance Monkey is an upbeat, danceable, happy pop song.
However, after looking into the origin of the song, I think what's key here is that this isn't a happy song at all. She's actually angry. It's a sort of "payback" song about her days as a busker in Australia.
She had an incredibly negative experience while busking (drunk people reaching over and touching her keyboard, someone stole her busking money, etc), and that was the basis for the song. She said "replace `dance` with `sing`" and the song will make more sense.
So when I listen to the song, I hear someone who is angry. She said she "never writes a song about herself" but that's not the case here.
If you listen to her tell the story on the origin of the song, and then listen to the song itself again, you may see it/hear it in a different light.
The chorus to this song is a total mystery to me. The lyrics to the chorus are:
This makes absolutely no sense to me. Who gets "tired", and as a result they "couldn't stay"? If anything, getting tired makes you more inclined to stay.
Additionally, "couldn't stay" implies he didn't think he had a choice. Which means either (a) he was forced to leave or (b) he believed the choice to stay did not exist or was not valid.
What I hear when I listen to this song (which I've done several dozen times), I don't hear "Jimmy he got tired", I hear "Jimmy he got god". That lyric makes much more sense to me. It's practically a cliché for people to be indoctrinated into a religion and disavow their previous lives.
Why would the original song-writers write "got tired" as the official lyric? Simply because religion is an incredibly divisive topic and they wanted to sell more records (vs offending most of the people in the world).
There are several other clues .. this is from the co-writer of the song:
If Jimmy turned out to be a homosexual, and he lived in a deeply religious family, then it would make a lot of sense if the reason he "couldn't stay" was because he "got god".
Of course, I could simply be mis-hearing the song.
Now this one's subtle, but since I'm this far into squandering my time over-thinking these songs, I see no reason not to go all the way. The bridge of this song contains the following lyric:
.. but of course that's not what I hear. What I hear is:
I've listened to this song over and over [and over] and I simply cannot get "fought" out of the vocals, not matter how hard I try. Additionally, the proceeding, rhyming word is "adore" .. which rhymes perfectly with "forbore".
And if we consult the definition of forbore:
... it fits perfectly within the meaning/intent of the bridge.
All of which is to say: I'm sticking with "forbore" here.
I'd like to wrap all of this up with a quick aside: