In life, even good things have to come to an end.
This column, something I have become fond of since planning it, is one of those things.
I have felt fulfilled since beginning this column, where I’ve written about important societal issues with music as a base.
But just like relationships, everything comes to an end eventually.
Digression aside, the world’s immense music catalog has embraced the concept of endings and has portrayed all the melancholy feelings that come with it. One of the most famous ways this theme has been manifested is through the art of the breakup song. People typically resonate with these types of songs after the conclusion of a romantic relationship with feelings of heartbreak and despair.
While the majority of break-up songs portray emotions that are associated with sorrow, there have been some that promote empowerment and letting oneself be renewed through the closing of one situation and the beginning of another.
Florence + the Machine’s “Shake It Out” is one of the more uplifting of these cathartic songs.
What makes this song so special is the gentle way in which it starts. Florence Welch singings the first line, “Regrets collect like old friends,” with little to no orchestration behind her.
The organ subtly plays during the first few chords, showing she’s not alone. The organ is definitely present through the first few bars, but the main focus is the placid way Welch sings.
Welch is not alone when she sings, “I like to keep my issues drawn/It’s always darkest before the dawn.” The orchestra comes in, the percussion starts beating out, the backup singers lift their voices.
The organ makes its presence known.
And so does Welch — her voice gains the power that distinguishes it from other contemporary singers’ voices. As the instruments and the musicians behind them come in increments, her voice soars.
The arrangement suggests that while the singer is finding the strength to carry on within herself, the people around her give her the support she needs to further explore new beginnings.
Welch sings about carrying around her burdens and regrets, then turns this helplessness around with a phrase, “So tonight I’m gonna cut it out and then restart,” showing empowerment and a hope for growth.
This is something that has stuck with me since first listening to the song.
“Shake It Out” was released in 2011 and has been an integral part of my life.
When I first discovered the song, I was at the start of my teenage years, wrapped up in the idea of love. I was caught up in how nice it would be if someone would find me lovable and pursue me.
But when I first listened to this song, I felt those longing thoughts slip away.
I felt powerful, like I could overcome these desires and just be OK existing on my own.
Since then, I have arranged “Shake It Out” and performed it at my piano recitals. The feeling of being in my piano teachers’ main room, playing at their grand piano is one I will never forget.
The process of gradually building the fervor of the song up through variations in tempo and dynamics is something that has remained therapeutic for me.
“Shake It Off” speaks of bidding goodbye to life burdens, but actually performing the song helped me release my personal insecurities about love.
It is safe to say that though I have entered the last of my teenage years and have since experienced love, Florence + the Machine’s song still holds an important place in both my heart and my youth.
So in the spirit of the age-old break-up song, I am officially breaking up with The Social Mixtape.
There is no bad blood between us.
Writing The Social Mixtape these past four months has taught me a lot about myself.
It has taught me that while displaying such personal parts of myself, such as my values and vulnerable parts of my life, can be quite scary, it is something that I can overcome.
It has taught me important conversations don’t need to be big ordeals.
They can take the form of something like a column about music and social issues.
Em Thampoe, ’21, is an assistant news editor and columnist for The Brown and White. She can be reached at [email protected].