Artist – Brandon Flowers
Album – The Desired Effect
Year – 2015
Genre – Synthpop/Alt. Rock
What is life? OK before all of you decide to instantly close the window or head to YouTube, hear me out. In your life, when you look at it, do you think it’s been guided by fate? Free will? Perhaps a mix of both? I personally think it’s the latter. We can’t choose our gender, sexuality, race, our family, or what circumstances we’re born in. Yet every day we labor over every little decision. We obsess over things we could have done differently, and how maybe things would have worked out if we’d changed one little thing or taken a different path or said something else. “Well maybe he/she’d still like me if I’d done this or that at this or that time.” “Ugh, why does it seem like my life is always going wrong?” “I wish I was someone different.” These are the thoughts that stress out so many of us and often emotionally cripple us every day. They prevent us from living how we often want to live, and I fall guilty to this as well. But after listening to Brandon Flowers’ “Never Get You Right,” I really drew an encouraging and powerful message from it. Hopefully one that inspires us all, and it starts with the first line.
It’s a coin toss. It’s a game on.
At first, I didn’t understand this line. I thought it was just an interesting game metaphor to start the song. Then I saw the beauty of what Flowers is trying to say. This is life. It’s fate and free will. There are many things in our life we can’t change, affect, or decide. It’s a coin toss. It’s already been determined. We have to realize that a lot of parts of life are like a coin toss. We don’t choose a lot of things, but there’s always another side. The second half of the line is the rest of life. It’s a game on. This is how we as humans CHOOSE to live. It’s free will. We take what cards we’ve been dealt and we say “GAME ON!” We choose to move beyond our crippling fears and worries and choose to approach every day and say, “bring it on, I’m ready to live and be who I am, because being my honest self is something I can choose to do every day.” That’s the best we can do, but it is literally the best thing we CAN do. It’s being yourself and living in the here and now that matters most. Phew, and that’s just the first line!
The rest of the lyrics in the song use a ballad as a lens for this idea of the duality of the way our lives unfold and the people we become.
You were born lost, and dirt blonde
No curfew, with a drunk mom
No one to stop you now
And I’ll give you my opinion, it’s the only one I’ve got
They’ll turn you into something, whether you are it or not
The beginning speaks to the circumstances we can’t change in our lives, but by the time the prechorus hits, it’s all about if you choose to be how you see yourself or how others see you.
But they’ll never get you right
Only you know who you are. Be that person, always. Don’t let others change you.
There’s another line that I love before the second chorus that really speaks to this fact that we really obsess over things we can’t control and labor over wishing we’d done things differently:
Through a microscope lens, dissecting your whole life
And finally, the bridge of the song shows how while we worry our lives away and spend our time putting on false pretenses and struggle with our own inner personality and honesty, things will still happen and things in our lives will still change. Our lives will pass us by as we’re stuck in neutral:
Everybody talks from the wrong side of the mask
Gliding through the universe as the world goes rolling past
But don’t give in to the pressure ’cause it isn’t gonna stop
The world goes on around you whether you like it or not
This is honestly a song with one of the most important messages I’ve heard in a long time. Brandon Flowers absolutely nailed it on this one, but the lyrics, as good as they are, are still just one half of the equation!
The music and melody in this song are just gorgeous. From the start Flowers’ honest and emotionally compromised voice wavers from note to note, adding that sense of humanity. It’s soft and gentle, and the gorgeous, classic 80’s synth and piano line come courtesy of the legendary Bruce Hornsby, who is a guest on this track. The percussion and hand claps are also straight out of the classic 80’s balladeers songbook, but this is done to great effect. The chorus is triumphant, and is mirrored by the melancholic and reflective verses. It’s sweeping and romantic and Flowers carries this track on every note. He soars and falls with each line. After years of crafting records with The Killers and on his own, he’s figured out quite a lot, and you can tell these songs mean a lot to him.
Flowers’ message, in the end, is simple. Just get out there and live! Don’t be afraid to be who you are and tackle every day as your best self just because some unfortunate things have happened or are happening in your life. It’s true there are things we cannot choose, but we can choose who we present ourselves as to the world. Who would that be? A kind stranger? A lover? An adventurer? A poet? A friend? An enemy? These are the things we can choose, and it’s the most important thing that we actually can change in the world. So instead of worrying about events that have already happened or haven’t happened yet, we can all focus on being our honest selves and living our lives fully in each moment of every day. To be cliche and throw out an old quote to end this post:
“Whatever you are, be a good one”
Let me know what you all think of the song in the comments? Do you believe in fate or free will?