Artist – Mumford & Sons
Album – Babel
Year – 2012
Genre – Folk Rock
Time to transition from old folk to new folk today. Mumford & Sons is perhaps one of the forerunners of the modern folk movement, and “Lover of the Light” is perhaps the most meaningful and important song they have written to date. If there’s a song that can guide you through the rough times in you life, and also add to the beauty of the wonderful times, it’s this song.
I have a lot of admiration and a lot to cover for this song, so I’m going to break it up into three parts. First is instrumentation and music.
Musically speaking, the song succeeds superbly at taking you on an emotional roller coaster. From the very beginning, when all you hear is soft guitar strumming, to the end where every instrument is playing full force. The song begins in a quiet whisper of a plea, and slowly builds confidence as more and more instruments are added. It makes a space for both sensitivity with the guitars and piano, and yet boldness and brashness with the trumpets and drums.
Each verse is a rising hill of melody and emotion, with the peaks being the choruses. The bridge takes the instruments back down to that quiet contemplative silence of the beginning, but just when the song reaches its lowest, it slowly takes you by the hand with a rising banjo line and keeps pulling you up with triumphant piano. Then you reach the climax, and every instrument is playing for dear life, yet they blend in a heavenly arrangement that releases every emotion you felt during the course of the song in one powerful blast. It’s liberating, and absolutely passionate. It’s something to truly hear.
Now let’s get to frontman Marcus Mumford’s vocals. I’ve never heard him get so passionate on a song as this one. Now when I say passionate, I don’t always mean loud. As he whispers and softly sings the opening lines, you can feel the sadness, or even shame in his voice. But as he sings “but I’d be yours if you’d be mine,” you can see him extending his hand towards love, hope and all that is good. You can hear in his voice that he’s ready to put it all out there and let it all out.
As he slowly crescendos on each verse, his confidence grows, and so does the emotional power. You feel that as he sing the song, he’s going through a process of bettering himself and drawing upon experiences to guide his voice. The choruses, especially the cathartic yells of “A LOVER OF THE LIGHT” show his process of letting go of all the sadness and frustration in his life.
The middle bridge is where Mumford really paints a wonderful vocal picture of humility and prepares himself for the final release to come. The final two choruses are absolutely glorious. As he brings his voice to a gravelly shout, you know he’s ready to accept the good into his life, and as he finally screams for the last time, he and you have both become “a lover of the light.”
Now for the final and most important aspect of the song, the lyrics. What does being a lover of the light mean to you? To me, the song is a chronicle of a life. It could be mine, or yours. There are times in our lives when we will be faced with shame, sadness, humility, broken hearts, emotional scars, loss, and darkness. We are flawed, through and through, but if we can overcome our obstacles and find all that is good, righteous, beautiful, holy, kind, generous, and light, there is nothing that will hold us back.
To become a lover of the light, we must first acknowledge there is darkness, but the song is saying that in putting our trust in those we love, we can begin to find ourselves again. Even if all seems lost and forgotten “I’d be yours if you’d be mine.”
“So love the one you hold
and I’ll be your gold
To have and to hold.
A lover of the light.”
Look around you. There is beauty, kindness, love and generosity everywhere. It just takes awhile to find sometimes. But when we make that final leap past our own personal darkness and begin to find love, be loved, share love, and embrace all that is good and beautiful; this is light. We are finally lovers of the light.
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