It’s a little odd, for me. Not too long ago I felt on top of the world, but I’ve had this underlying feeling of defeat slowly creeping up on me. It wasn’t long (yet was too long) until I figured out what it actually was.
The realization started with a nightmare, which is why I say it’s a little odd. Describing it as a nightmare doesn’t really fit; it was more unpleasant than an actual fear. The nature of the dream was comical in hindsight because I realized that it would never actually happen. What made it scary was the possibility that it could exist only because of flawed perception.
The other reason was because it was a feeling I hadn’t felt in a very long time. It was the feeling of betrayal. What makes the betrayal “sweeter” is when the betrayer is the last person you would expect to do so, which really is just added salt to the wound.
I realized it was a dream while I was dreaming, which is what woke me up (I am honestly surprised at my own awareness when this happened). It also made coping with such a terrible dream-reality easier. I was still in shock because the feelings were still so intense, raw from the shock of my dream waking me up.
I talked about it with Jazmin, laid in bed a little longer than I should have, then went about my day. I was doing my early Wednesday morning route delivering papers when I finally noticed where the feeling came from. Yes, it was the fact that I had previously experienced that level of betrayal in the past, but it wasn’t the past directly. It was a song that I had been obsessed about.
“Redbone” by Childish Gambino, though you might know him as Donald Glover. The first song of his I was exposed to was “3005”; my best friend actually showed it to me. The flow of the rhythm and rhyme of his words and his music, the way they fit a chaotic writing formula – it was poetry for me.
We dove into his other songs easily, though I must admit I’ve only actively listened to the 15 songs compiled in a playlist. Considering the selection of music available to us thanks to modern technology, that’s a hefty number for one artist. It also serves as a reminder to myself to dedicate time in listening to his albums fully and with full-attention.
There’s more emotion to “Redbone” than betrayal. There’s loss, which is a difficult emotion to handle. You lose someone when they’ve betrayed you, proving “trust” to be a key characteristic in people – a make-it-or-break-it emotion.
As the music progresses, so does his pain. If you happen to listen to the explicit version, not “radio edit”, there’s an instrumental towards the end. This song was actually made with authentic instruments, outside of electronics (for those of you interested, I’ve published a link in the online version of this article with just some of the facts behind it.)
The website is “Genius”. That’s actually what it is called. They work together with Spotify, a music app (app meaning “application”), to produce lyrics in the app as well as facts and tidbits about the song.
After obsessing with the song for the past few days, having learned the lyrics, dissecting the music unaware that I was doing it, and learning all of the facts behind it, it’s only natural for me to have that feeling of paranoia from a “nightmare”.
The song hit me on every note. It has such a smooth, groovy feeling, but there’s just something underlying that makes it feel like not all is right. The lyrics suggest to “stay woke”. Translating for some of you without lingo savvy, “woke” means “aware”.
The way he delivers it is what gets to me, though. He’s been paranoid, but remembers to tell himself to “stay woke”. It seems to be implied that he did find out that he was right to be skeptical, his lyrics say, “You wanna make it right but now it’s too late”.
I knew what he was feeling when he wrote his song, both lyrically and in his composition; the way his music flows. I just never expected it to be so profound.
Just like that, I’m on top of the world again. What made it profound was that I had been having slight troubles sleeping at night for the past few nights. Some were just really weird dreams that didn’t make any sense, some was under the guise of a screenplay (as if watching a movie), until it finally showed itself in a “nightmare” (if you can call it that, I wouldn’t know what else to call it aside from “anomaly”).
Too many times have I felt that pain – something I will never have to feel again. The importance of this song to me is because it reminds me of horrible things that have shaped me, or the overcoming of those horrible things. It’s like a sense of relief, this song.
“Stay woke”, somehow translates to “everything is going to be okay” for me. Somewhere along the way, he’s accepted what’s happened and there’s an air of “moving on” in the song. It will be in my favorites for a long time to come and I know it will be the go-to song when I’m faced with harsher times.
Are there any songs that strike you this way? Any songs that send goosebumps throughout your whole body? #StayWoke