Notes on Beauty Pill’s Prison Song

Normally, I listen to the same song 10-40 times in a row or in a day. I like to deconstruct the song, think about the artist’s choice in words and chords, and how the song is structured overall. Sadly, this may drive the people around me a little crazy.

A few weeks ago, I could not stop listening to Beauty Pill’s Prison Song (link to video):

Will you still visit me when I’m in prison?
My outside sweetheart.
Will you bring birthday cakes with contraband inside?
Out with the guards.
Or will you mail me a tearsome letter…

I love how the lyrics go back and forth between thinking things are over and thinking there’s a chance. You can hear uncertainty in the voice of the singer. The second half of the song reverses some of the ideas of the first half, which astounded me when I figured it out. I got to ask the song writer about this, because he is a dear friend. The songwriter, Chad Clark, did indeed turn the words inside out (using opposites) on purpose, and I immediately wanted to use that idea for a poem.

The week I first wrote this blog post, I was listening to Amy Winehouse’s Rehab song. (This was before she passed away.) I keep shaking my head at how she borrowed from an obvious influence to discuss this rehab idea. The voice and the song’s structure reminds me of church gospel or a cousin of Motown. Winehouse puts a fresh twist on an old topic with her choice of style — we already have the angry “drug” songs from Hole and Nirvana in the 90s — and her voice’s range certainly helps this song become memorable.

I’m not sure yet what I’m doing with this observation of music. For now, I’m enjoying what I’m observing and content to leave it at that.