Edit the Sad Parts (by Modest Mouse) Analysis

Edit The Sad Parts, by Modest Mouse

Link to the song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=49Gz0Jfp-jI

Sometimes all I really want to feel is love

Sometimes I’m angry that I feel so angry

Sometimes my feelings get in the way

Of what I really feel I needed to say

If you stand in a circle

Then you’ll all have a back to bite

Back logged voices on the 7 wonders

We’re all so funny but he’s lost his joke now

A communication from the one lined joke

A stand up comic and a rock musician

Making so much noise you don’t know when to listen

Why are you judging people so damn hard

You’re taking your point of views a bit too far

I made my shoes shine with black coal

But my polish didn’t shine the hole

If you stand in a circle

Then you’ll all have a back to bite

Back logged books on the 7 wonders

We’re all so funny but he’s lost his joke now

Our communications come from one lined joke

From stand up comics and a rock musicians

Making so much noise you don’t know when to listen

Think it over

There’s the air of the height of the high-rollers

Think it over

You ain’t got nothing till ya know her

‘Edit The Sad Parts’ is a song written and performed by Modest Mouse. The song is communicated through five unequal divisions, where each division characterises different devices. The lyrics itself is portrayed in conjunction to instrumental music, which multiplies the emotion expressed coherently through the poetic nature of the song effectively. It is interesting to point out the title of the song, ‘Edit the Sad Parts’, however it doesn’t necessarily edit them out, as we will come to understand through the syntax and diction utilised. Although this could be labelled as ironic, it would be more appropriate to label it as a tragic contrast rather than bestowing it with a humorous connotation of irony.

In the first division, the repetition of ‘Sometimes..’ reinforces the idea of how individuals encounter and feel different emotions at different times throughout their lives, and this is particularly true when a contrast is drawn between ‘love’ and being ‘angry’, where the two could be said to be almost polar opposites. Where Mouse says ‘..so angry’, he reemphasises the anger he feels, because possibly the idea of being ‘angry’ has become diminished because of its exaggerated use, therefore reinstating the word characterises the emotion felt. Alternatively, Mouse’s repetition of the word ‘angry’ instead of the use of a synonym, and generally throughout the song the use of very simplistic vocabulary like ‘love’ insists the pure and simple nature of these emotions. In addition, the use of a simple sentence structure could be a mechanism to show how ideas and emotions shouldn’t be confused as something complex and therefore alienated from experience. The ending line of this division touches the concept of ‘feelings’, and how although some things ‘need’ to be said, emotions and feelings essentially creep up and diminish the level of objectivity we have in our speeches and tone.

In the chorus of the song, which includes both the second and fourth divisions, Mouse talks about standing in a ‘circle’. This could be related to the systematic ordering of how individuals are placed from the get go, and generally the concept of society and social control could be applied here where individuals are confused and alienated into following a set of rules day in and day out, and essentially they are confused into believing that they have a sense of freedom in modern day democracies and capitalistic societies, whereas this is the exact right they have been robbed of. Alternatively, it could also be related to the order in society, where a group of individuals can be placed in a circle, and circle by circle, ultimately creates a large pattern of conformity and control. Where Mouse touches the idea of a ‘..back to bite’, this could be related to how if everyone is living in constant conformity and in a system of common goals, then as Parsonian theory goes, ‘common values derives common goals’, where all ‘circles’ are facing the same list of goals and aspirations and how essentially we’re all confused and tricked into this concept of achievement. Alternatively, the idea of ‘bit[ing]’ is taken when we talk about the deceit and deception that goes around in the world, where individuals try to negate or undermine the efforts of other people through judgement, backbiting, social alienation, ridicule, judgement of inclination, and so on.

Further on in the chorus, Mouse talks about ‘back logged voices’, where these individuals could encapsulate essentially all the people who have been undermined and therefore a by-product of a materialistic and meritocratic society, and their ‘voices’ are found on the ‘7 wonders’. Where Mouse makes a reference to the ‘7 wonders’, this could be tallied or intertwined to famous places where individuals carry out or commit the highest number of suicides per year. In essence, what Mouse is attempting to say is that we live in such an orderly or systematic society where all individuals are pushed towards an indexical idea of ‘achievement’, and the individuals who have been undermined by others are the ones who end up questioning the entire system which has tricked us into conformity, and therefore enter a stage in their lives where they reach a moment of enlightenment where they acknowledge the dramatic flaw in modern society which characterised by its deterministic perspective on every life. Therefore, these are the same people which acknowledge the futility of such a life, and therefore find themselves at the ‘7 wonders’.

The idea of committing suicide is further developed where Mouse says ‘We’re all so funny’, characterising the world as constantly laughing, where laughing could be a symbolical reference to how individuals carry on chasing their ‘goals’ or are placed under the illusion of enjoying their lives but really their lives are dictated by the system, and all the individuals who have been undermined essentially ‘los[e] his joke’, where they stop laughing, and again, see the futility of it all. This is pertinent where Mouse draws not only the contrast, but also the similarity between the occupations of a ‘comic’ and ‘rock musician’, where individuals in a society are put under the illusion of enjoying their lives through consistent capitalistic entertainment and consumerism, like that from the above examples. This creates the sense of humour which, again, causes individuals to carry on with their futile lives (and the futility of life is not questionable in this case, instead we’re tricked into the idea of it amounting to something). The idea of not knowing ‘when’ to listen to the joke, or song, or whatever it may be, can mean multiple things. Firstly, we could see life as a ‘one lined’ joke, or a song, and we’re confused into laughing at the joke rather than exactly acknowledging or knowing what we’re laughing at, therefore the noise is amplified (which can be seen as the tightening grip of conformity), and therefore it is unknown as to when to ‘listen’. The idea of ‘listen[ing]’ essentially means acknowledging the actuality or reality of life, rather than all that has been buttered and silver-lined for us to ease us into the harsh and bitter concept.

In the third division the idea of putting your points of view ‘too far’ can be explained by how the world has become polarised with individuals engaging in active argumentation consistently to defend their uncanny and unprecedented ideals about the world, and are ready to debate in order to defend their tradition. Essentially Mouse is criticising this debate and how people must enforce and overshadow their opinions over others to develop a sense of superiority, because it should be understood that a world consensus on a particular topic is, in essence, impossible to formulate. Therefore, instead of issuing and debating differences, these should be celebrated and the world should live in harmony instead of convincing others of their own biased views. Mouse talks about a his ‘shoe’, where this shoe could be defined as life itself, or alternatively, a simple item of clothing that encapsulates physical appearances. However, a larger case could be made for the former argument, since the concept is developed in a figurative manner where he says the polish ‘didn’t shine the hole’, denoting that essentially his ‘shoe’ had a ‘hole’, and therefore a material polish cannot fix an absolute ‘hole’. The polish could also be characterised as material wealth or simply an image or facade individuals put up to negate their true selves, but instead to seem as if everything is completely fine with themselves. This is to prevent others from witnessing a potential break down of a person, or a long-awaited ‘fall’ of a person. This could, alternatively, be linked back to having a ‘back to bite’, and how secretly people are waiting for the downfall of others in this endless rat race of order and conformity. The idea of ‘black coal’ being used rather than the expected and normalised shoe polish could denote the rawness of Mouse’s feelings of how individuals cover themselves up with an elevated face mask rather than loving and caring for their true selves. The idea of a ‘hole’, alternatively, could be explained by Miller’s idea of all characters and individuals having a ‘tragic flaw’, where this is symbolised through Mouse’s characterisation of a ‘hole’. Therefore, in essence, although people may put up a fake smile or facade for others to see and notice, the ‘polish’ cannot cover the ‘hole’, which is defined as the tragic flaw all individuals posses. Of course, this flaw would be different for all persons, but it is still easily acknowledged by others. This, essentially, is where others can eventually see through the fake mask plastered on by individuals and could lead to the consequent long-awaited downfalls of individuals, as exemplified through notable literature pieces, like Mma-Mompati in Bessie Head’s short story, ‘The Village Saint’.

The final division holds repetition of ‘Think it over’. Perhaps Mouse is instructing the listeners to think over the crooks and foundations in which they have built their ideals and values in life, or alternatively, Mouse could be calling for the consistent reflection of a persons decisions in life and therefore instructing against falling under the illusion of democracy or freedom but instead to build that for one’s own self. Mouse finally talks about ‘air’ in the ‘high rollers’. He could be referring to all the empty space or empty lines that have yet to be written on in the future, or alternatively he could be referring to empty space and therefore re-emphasising the simplicity or emptiness in life. The idea of having ‘nothing’ until you ‘know’ her is elaborated where you don’t know the true story behind a person until you actually know it from their own perspective. This diminishes the concept of assumptions about other people and the spread of rumours. This could be exemplified through the concept or reasoning behind why people choose to, for instance, cut themselves, or commit actions of crime, use and abuse drugs, or eventually commit suicide. These actions are usually interlinked to a wide range of judgement and critique from bystanders, however this judgement is and should be diminished because the real reason or the truth behind these actions are obscured and until you know a persons true story, and people eventually end up basing their reason on assumptions, and that, in itself, is problematic.

Furthermore, through a multitude of existential ideals and a deep-webbed critique of orderly societies, Mouse soundly encapsulates the concept of life and the modern day rat race which we all live in and endure. Mouse does this by exemplifying the nature of the way we run, where the analogy of us being rats who are chasing their own tails constantly for their entire lives could be used and pondered over as an analogy. In essence, through the use of symbolical references and euphemism, Mouse naturally portrays the simplicity of his thoughts or ideals through simple diction and easy flowing syntax. Ultimately, rather than read as a piece of literature, the true beauty of Mouse’s work can be fruitfully acknowledged in conjunction with his instrumental piece and consequently appreciated.


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