Features / Sunday Morning

Sharon Van Etten – “Give Out”/ “Serpents”

“Give Out” is one of those songs you have to start and stop several times throughout it’s entirety to properly understand just how poignant, honest, and deeply cutting the writing is.  In fact, the same can be said for  the entirety of Sharon Van Etten’s latest release, Tramp. Explaining my feelings towards “Give Out” wouldn’t do it justice, because most of you reading this don’t know me, and therefore I would accomplish nothing by simply telling you how much I can identify with it.  However, for the sake of wanting to showcase just how incredible I think this song is, I’ll go ahead and point out two of the best lines I’ve heard this year.

“There were your eyes, in the dark of the room. The only ones shining, the only ones I’d met in years.  It’s not because I always look down, It might be I always look out”

That’s just how the song starts.  In one line, Van Etten diagnoses herself with caution in love rather than a lack of effort.  While much of how breathtaking this line is can be attributed to her keen self-awareness, there is something about the way she can communicate this revelation that makes it ever more stunning.

“You’re the reason why I’ll move to the city, or why I’ll need to leave”

The chorus.  Frank, beautiful, straightforward and honest.  It’s the complete opposite of the previous line.  The latter being a statement showing almost too much rationality towards her emotion.  The chorus finds Van Etten a slave to teetering emotion.  A victim of the mind and heart at odds.  If anything, it is a beautiful example of how love can so easily cloud one’s best judgement.

If “Give Out” is your introduction to Tramp, then I urge, no, beg you to give this entire album a close listen.

P.S. The following line from “Serpents” is perhaps my favorite lyric of the year thus far.  It should come as no surprise that the brothers Dessner (The National) produced the album as the lyric seems like some sort of response to the much loved “I was afraid I’d eat your brains”:

“You enjoy sucking on dreams, so I will fall asleep with someone other than you”


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