Music Analysis: The '59 Sound

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The text that I will be analyzing is the song “The ’59 Sound,” by The Gaslight Anthem. The Gaslight Anthem is a punk rock band that comes from New Brunswick. Many of their songs have tangled, cryptic lyrics which makes it difficult to determine what they are about exactly, but they always tend to be melancholy. The music sounds just like a pretty normal energetic rock song. The illusion of life perspective will provide the lens to find underlying meaning in this particular song. I expect to find that the music and the lyrics will take the listener in different directions with the song. This song always evokes emotion regardless of this fact. The lyrics of the song when you first listen sound like Brian Fallon, the front man for The Gaslight Anthem, is reminiscing for the past. However when you truly listen to them and begin to pick them apart, the listener can begin to piece together their intended meaning as well as find several pop cultural references. The first verse talks about the song that will be played at our respective funerals and how he hopes he doesn’t hear Marley’s chains. This first reference is about the character Jacob Marley from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Marley appears as a ghost wrapped in chains to his former business partner to warn him not to mistreat people and obsess over money as he once did because he is paying for it now. Marley shakes his chains to get his partner’s attention when he tried to reduce him to a figment of his imagination. The reference infers that Brian Fallon hasn’t been living, as he should because he hears them figuratively. The chorus of the song asks several questions and speaks of “the ’59 sound coming through you grandmother’s radio.” The ’59 sound is the second reference. It goes back to a plane crash in 1959 that killed three promising rock and roll artists- Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “Big Bopper” Richardson. It was “the day that music died” that Don McLean wrote about in his...
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