As always with the „A few words“-series, the warning beforehand: Explicit lyrics and words follow.
Ok. Much has been written about „Blonde“ by Frank Ocean. I am unsure, if I could add any new things about the record or the music in itself. But I definitely can add something new, when I tell you what his music makes with me. Most reviews I saw, described the record as a work of genius. Now I know exactly where these people come from and in principle I agree, yet I can’t say the whole record is genius, because I do have one complaint. But one thing I am sure about, is, that this is an important work of art. An important work for human beings. Frank Ocean goes far and it is uplifting and devastating, it crushes me and it heals me at the same moment. I can relate to his quest of finding out about life and about your self by all costs. Nothing to hide, nothing to fear – it is only human. This makes you strong and fragile at the same moment. As usual, I will do my list of things I noticed, felt, thought while living in this record for some time now.
The list bit
Moment I love the most of the whole record:
The very first line „These bitches want Nikes“
Why? Ok. Here is someone who is known for his voice, for singing. And the first song on a record is important. In record company-boss world, this is a hook, the first possibility to lose listeners. And what does Frank? Autotunes his way on a slow, weird, at times sloppy beat and opens the evening up with the wonderful lyrics: „These bitches want Nikes“. I swear, this is so fucking gorgeous, so beautiful, I just want to celebrate him forever for this. These words have in them an inherent beauty to me and with just 4 words he say so much. These words immediately paint a picture
Most heartbreaking moment:
The beginning of „White Ferrari“
When he tells how he forgot to speak in a relationship and then the other person leaves. We all were there at one point. So he texts, but things fell apart. One doubt is, that they spent every day together, got so familiar and now it gets complicated to tell apart how much of his feeling is actually love and how much this familiarity, that looks and feels like love, but is only habit in the end. Because make no mistake, habits are amongst the most powerful things in our lifes. And the way he sings that? My heart melts away and breaks and gets cheered up at the same moment
The facebook story
Probably the perfect way to describe the difference between women and men: For us women every thing means something. There simply is nothing, that means not something. For men it seems to be ok, that some things just are, without meaning anything. This is the unconsolable, unbridgeable difference, that can only be overcome by being human and not male or female.
The best lyrics:
There are many wonderful double entendres, many beautiful pictures of feelings. Too many to name all. Here a few.
I love the psalm like „Solo“:
„It’s hell on earth and the city’s on fire
inhale, inhale there’s heaven
there’s a bull and a matador dueling in the sky
inhale, in hell there’s heaven“
I LOVE the song „Ivy“ (and I talk real love):
„I thought that I was dreaming, when you said you love me,
it started of nothing, I had no chance to prepare, I couldn’t see you coming,
I could hate you now, it’s quite alright to hate me now,
when we both know deep down still the feeling is good“
Because it really is like that. When someone tells you he/she loves you, it changes everything. Suddenly you are different, that person is different, the relationship, even the world is changed. And it doesn’t even matter, if you feel the same. Just the fact that this human being loves you, changes the whole dynamic. It can be a burden or a joy.
Again from „Solo“:
„Bones feeling dense as fuck“
I just love this way of saying you feel strong inside out
From „Ivy“ the timeless:
„Save in my rental like an army truck back then,
we didn’t give a fuck back then
I ain’t a kid no more, we will never be those kids again“
From „Seigfried“ the confession:
„I’d do anything for you (in the dark)“
The „anything“ is almost whispered, sung very high, in a breaking voice, which perfectly conveys the conflict of this feeling. We feel it – yet we are told that feeling it is not good. This emotion carries so much: shame, joy, happiness, fear, sadness and more
„RIP to Trayvon, that nigga just looked like me“
I love, that he sets this on the personal level. Trayvon Martin lost his life at the age of 17 through gun violence and racial tensions and „shit, that can be you and me“. I think this is much more effective and real than anything else, because it drives home the truths, that we all are in this together and this is real, it can happen to anybody.
But my very favourite line is probably from the song „Good guy“:
„You text nothing like you look“
Although it is such a simple sentence, it has for me so many facettes and holds a deep truth and I could write a whole book about everything these few words contain for me
Song that is magically putting an idiotic smile on my face:
Pink + White
Song that I sing along every single note:
Tragic heartbreak song to listen to while driving through the night:
Most important song:
All his songs move me deeply. Profoundly. But „Seigfried“ is objectively maybe the most important song as it deals with the different worlds of the outside and the inside.
Do I follow myself and my needs? – But I’m not brave!
Better to settle on two kids and a swimming pool. – But I’d rather live outside, than lose my pride.
And he asks us: What would you recommend? Many of us have lived this conflict, live this conflict and it is a messy thing. Life is a messy thing, if you do it right or fully. There is no streamlined, easy answer. Every day you must decide anew. Every day you walk the thorny path again. Some days this is easy and your feet are so strong you don’t feel the thorns and it is like you float over them, barely touching them, on other days you feel every step and the weight on your shoulders drives the pointy thorns in your bare feet, injuring your skin till you bleed. Every day you show the world your wide shoulders, your steady step, your smile, your calm face, when some days all you want is someone who really sees you and tells you: „Don’t worry, you’re gonna be ok. The burden has nothing on you. I am here all the way, at your side, believing in you, protecting you, if you need me. I am here.“
„Nights“ and „White Ferrari“ by lengths. Many lengths. Then come Ivy, Nikes, Solo, Futura Free and then the rest
The all in all bit
I love this record. It is so beautiful, so brave, so human, so EVERYTHING. It is healing and moving. It really is a musical work, an opus. By someone who has something to say, someone who found a way to tell his story. But who – and that is the best achievement of the record in my opinion – leaves us enough room to feel ourselves with him. He isn’t in our face, screaming at us: „Look, this am I, I see and feel it this way and period.“ No, he experiences his story through telling it to us and invites us to dare to do the same, he leaves a safe space for us, where there is acceptance for everything. This is a great achievement and a wonderful ability. I want as many people listen to it as possible, because it is also our story, the story for and of everybody who feels, doubts, dreams, fears, dares. And he also succeeds in telling his story in a meaningful, graceful and honest way. But as I wrote in the beginning, I have complaints. Or better one complaint about some parts of the music. When in „Ivy“ or „Nights“ these 70-s like musical chaoses set in, it disrupts and destroys the song for me. It is possible, that this is only my problem, because I don’t like such stuff (it is like the stuff in Ye’s last works, but there it has rhythm and a function. I don’t hear that in Ocean’s songs). I love, that the music has it’s own character, tells it’s own stories, but I think at some points this fails. I get the intention, but the vision to me isn’t executed as intended. But as said, this can very well be my very own problem.
But all in all, it is a wonderful, important record. A milestone. I can only recommend it to everybody and I know this record will keep me company, be a friend for the rest of my life. Because it is that kind of record.