Saturday, October 09, 2010

Why You Must Listen to Mumford & Sons #1

This is the first and title track of what is sure to be my favorite album of 2010.

Without further ado, I bring you: Why you must listen to Mumford and Sons Reason #1 - Sigh No More

Their music stirs my soul, exhilarating my body and mind. It is not often that I hear a song so enrapturing, musically and lyrically, much less a whole album.

The first half of "Sigh No More" is a stirring reflection on the pain, disappointment, and sorrow that each of us carries from our past. We all have these "sighs" of life when we reflect on the carnage that is left in our wake. This is a revelation that we are creatures guided and divided by an impure heart with a tendency to wander on a dizzying path.

As you will see throughout the album, there are many rich literary allusions. But none are more clear than in the title track. There are 4 direct quotes from Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, one of which even serves as the title (of the album no less!).
Serve God, love me and mend (Act V Scene II)
This is not the end
Live unbruised, we are friends (Act V Scene IV)
I'm sorry

Sigh no more, no more.
One foot in sea and one on shore, (Act II Scene II)
My heart was never pure.
You know me.
But man is a giddy thing, (Act V, Scene IV)
Oh man is a giddy thing,
Oh man is a giddy thing,
Oh man is a giddy thing.*
The last half of the song is a rally call to embrace a love that is outside of ourselves. This love is liberating man from the pain "sighs" of life, calling him out of the aimless path, giving orientation in life, and transforming the impure heart.

Love it will not betray you
Dismay or enslave you, it will set you free
Be more like the man you were made to be
There is a design, an alignment, a cry
Of my heart to see;
The beauty of love as it was made to be
Whether the following was the original intent or not is beside the point. If you are a Christian and don't think that is a beautiful poetic proclamation (don't read "perfect", or "complete") of the law and gospel, then, um, I guess you probably don't think I am a Christian. And you probably won't like my analysis of the rest of the album.

The message of redemption in "Sigh No More" is one of the more straightforward tracks on the album. Also being the title track, and musically very much a prologue to the rest of the album, I can't help but think it provides context for understanding the rest of the album.

Speaking of which, I'm going to try and share all 12 tracks before their concert at the Crystal Ballroom on October 22nd. Whether you agree or disagree, I'd love to hear what you think.

Reason #1: Sigh No More
Reason #2: The Cave
Reason #3: Winter Winds
Reason #4: Roll Away Your Stone
Reason #5: White Blank Page
Reason #6: I Gave You All
Reason #7: Little Lion Man
Reason #8: Timshel

*Giddy is an interesting word. And as you will see, Mumford & Sons uses a number of interesting words. I was divided in my interpretation of the giddiness of man, which is why I glossed over it in my analysis. But much thought went into it, so I will share that here. 

I generally feel the giddiness is a negative attribute, especially in the context of the song. Man's giddiness conveys the dizzying disorientation of humanity. We are lost and the "sighs of life" consume us. But, I am not totally against a positive definition either. As if this giddiness is an innate yearning for the hope of true love which follows in the song.

Without significantly changing the message of the song either way, this giddiness is somewhere on the journey between the broken state of humanity and responding to the hopeful rally call to embrace true love.


Anonymous said...

The lyrics from the first half of the song are from Shakespeare's 'Much Ado About Nothing.' Don't forget to give Shakespeare credit for these awesome lyrics, too. :)

DK said...

Awesome! Thanks so much for catching another citation...

I love how many rich literary allusions are on this album. Much appreciated by a literature geek like me.