Song of the Week
“Conversation Piece” by Kings of Leon is a song about the struggles in Hollywood the band has experienced. Singer Caleb Followill wrote this song for his wife Lily Aldridge. She wanted to move to California but reconsidered her decision after actually living there. He explores escapism and love throughout the song. With a gripping guitar riff the lyrics float down that babbling brooke into a peaceful clarity. I chose this song for song of the week not only because it has an atmosphere of ambition and grace but it has words that read like poetry and I think there is something behind the curtain; taking the meaning deeper than most seem to find.
The song starts with “Take me back to California / To those crystal neon signs / Where the traveling sensations / Are all blinded by the light”. The traveling sensations are anybody that goes to California searching for fame or success. He implies that anybody who enters the city is easily overwhelmed by the fast pace and fleeting opportunities. It can make you blind to what really matters and makes people act differently or do things they wouldn’t normally do. In the beginning of the song he wants to go there, similarly to everybody else. He is focused on all he can accomplish and experience. People go there voluntarily but as Followill explains, it gets old quickly.
Next verse is “There are eyes in every corner / Bloated brains and rotten smiles / There are coats of many colors / Flying high up in the sky”. The eyes are everywhere because people recognize you everywhere. People follow you and paparazzi especially won’t leave you alone. You can’t have a mere moment of privacy. After people move into the city, they adjust to how things work which makes them fill their brains with greedy knowledge and have fake rotten smiles for everyone they meet. The words sound a little harsh to me but Followill would know if it’s true. Authenticity and friendship appear to be stripped away leaving this carcass of humanitarianism. Furthermore, The last two lines are a tad tricky to deduce. The coats are most likely things people use to cover themselves, possibly who they are. Coats of many colors means there are a few different masks to pick from when you come here. Continued, Flying high up in the sky most likely indicates celebrityhood of some kind. Those personalities or masks you have to choose from; a few of them are already up there aka. famous.
The welcoming chorus follows with simply “Won’t you come ’round my way for some conversation, please”. This is where the love comes in with him explaining how the joy he has in his life is talking with his wife. It’s his only oasis from the blinding lights and rotten smiles. The love of the simple things is one of the most overlooked things in today’s society. Being grateful everyday for just the conversations with your wife is exactly what I love to hear!
Second verse begins ” Look at all these shattered faces / They all look so out of place / They’ve got nothing left to live for / They’ll be dead before they wake”. Once you get to Hollywood you have given away so much of yourself for this dream that now you are a completely different person. In Followill’s mind I think when he says nothing left to live for he means true friends and family because that is what he lives for. So, in that sense they have nothing left because they have abandoned everyone they used to know. The sad part is they will most likely live the rest of their lives as these non-authentic versions of themselves and will never find their way back to who they truly are.
The verse continues with “I’d love to know just what you’re thinking / Tell me what I ought to do”. This theme coincides with the bridges. “Get me out of California / Take me off into the blue / We could make it out together / To the place that’s calling you”. He finishes the lyrics with this idea that he loves his wife and he would follow her anywhere. I also want to take a moment to appreciate the symmetry of the first line being “Take me back to California” and one of the last lines being “Get me out of California”. In the end, the clarity he finds is that having love and loving yourself is really what matters and we need to try every day to not get distracted and lured away from that one feeling. That is what I think “Conversation Piece” is about. What do you think?