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"The Maybe Man" on Spotify
"The Maybe Man" song-by-song review
Maybe Man

"I wish I was me, whoever that is/I could just be and not give a sh**/Hey, I'll be whatever makes you a fan/'Cause I don't know who the h*** I am"

As the first song on the album, "The Maybe Man" sets the scene for our unlikely hero, Jack, as he sings a string of dreams and doubts he has for life. Like AJR's previous albums, "The Maybe Man" acts as the overture — but not in the way fans were expecting. Unlike their previous albums, each stanza in The Maybe Man corresponds to a different song in the album:

Verse One: "Touchy Feely Fool," Verse Two: "Yes I'm a Mess," Verse Three: "Turning Out Pt. iii," Verse Four: "Steve's Going to London," Verse Five: "The Dumb Song," Verse Six: "Hole in the Bottom of My Brain," Verse Seven: "The DJ Is Crying For Help," Verse Eight: "I Won't," Verse Nine: "Inertia," Verse 10 and 11: "God is Really Real" and Verse 12: "2085."

In the outro, Jack belts the lyric, "Here I go again," signaling the cycle between life, death and self-discovery is starting once more for the listener and The Maybe Man. While I'm still unsure about the tone change over halfway through the piece, it still a very impactful way to start the album.

Touchy Feely Fool

"I'm screwed/But, hey, what can you do?/I'm a touchy feely fool/I would give anything to not give a sh** about you."

This song is a people pleaser's anthem. Despite the red flags, AJR encapsulates the inability to leave someone with obvious red flags and how it mentally affects an individual. I love when Jack screams his frustrations into the pre-chorus, but it switches back to the happy chorus because a people pleaser will continue please, of course. The more I listened to the song, the more I adapted to the ending, and now I very much enjoy this number.

Yes I'm A Mess

"And I took a job for just July/But feels like I might be here for life/Yeah, I’m in it now, I'm in it now/Could I start again somehow?"

"Yes, I'm A Mess" almost immerses the listener into a western movie set in 2023. From the whistling to the steady drumming, the listener voyages on through life while conscious they are making more of a mess of it. It's relatable and catchy, and you'll find yourself whistling along soon, too.

The Dumb Song

"When we go down/When kingdom come/Don't look at me, don't look at me/I'm just too dumb." 

While this song is called "The Dumb Song," it spotlights the painful feeling of perceiving yourself as "too dumb." With gang vocals inspired by the Beach Boys, horns and guitar give the song a facade of being lighthearted, but also give weight to the insecurity of stupidity.

Inertia

"I'm an object in motion, I've lost all emotion/My two legs are broken, but look at me dance/An object in motion, don't ask where I'm going/'Cause whеre I am goin' is right where I am." 

This is my personal favorite song of this entire album. Inertia focuses on someone who knows their life is messed up but doesn't try to do anything to change the trajectory. This song highlights the numbing experience of living a subpar life and the general feeling of being lost, which is something I can definitely relate to. Though I wish the drums and horns hit harder, it's the song I connect with the most, and I will continue listening to it on repeat.

Turning Out Pt. iii

"'Cause half the time I can't love right/And I'm half yours, and you're all mine."

Turning Out Pt.iii ends a beloved trilogy, written and lived by Ryan Met. After the previous songs question being ready for love and whether the feeling is actually love, this song illustrates the anxiety of wondering if you are on the right path with this person. While this song dances around dreams and doubts, it feels like the big hug Ryan needed and a reminder that love is little, quiet and worth waiting for.

Hole in the Bottom of My Brain

"Heads up, I'm sorry to be that guy/Heads up, I'm lookin' to just get by/Let's just say, let's just say we're fine." 

Inspired by the children's song, “There’s A Hole in the Bottom of the Sea,” this song illustrates the constant feeling of missing something. The dichotomy of a children's song melody while mentioning heavier topics of addiction and struggling mental health is an interesting choice. I didn't agree with it at first until I realized the interesting irony of song. While the lyrics are stronger than the melody in this piece, it deserves a listen.

The DJ is Crying for Help

"Oh, hired, hired, can I get hired?/Yeah, I fu**** up, but I did it my way/I'm tryin', tryin', I can start Friday/Gettin' a life's a little like dyin'."

This is another top pick of the entire album for me, ever since it came out as a single all the way from November 2022. As the song title suggests, the singer is crying for help. They don't know what to do or what step to take next. The violin after the chorus ties seamlessly alongside the gang vocals, and the melodies together sound similar to what a panic attack feels like. As someone who has had panic attacks before, it's almost comforting to find a song that illustrates the internal commotion. This is one of the songs where the powerful music production shines through.

I Won't

"So I do what you tell me to and do it to death/But I can't do this sh** again."

This song is meant get your head banging along with its simple drums and rhythm. With the fast-paced singing, it feels like all the thoughts in the singer's head are finally getting out and recognizing the emotions and ideas they had been holding back. It's a thought-train song — a great song to simply just vibe and sing along with.

Steve's Going to London

"While you try to find some meaning in your life before you die/Here's a bunch of random sh** to waste your time."

This song didn't sell me at first because, unlike the rest of the album, it didn't have the same emotional hold or bigger meaning. But that's part of the point — it serves as the album's brain-empty track: a song about writing song. Add in the gang vocals bringing the song together, and it is a fun listen overall.

God is Really Real

"God is really real when you really, really need Him/Karma just appears when you suddenly believe it." 

This is the most emotional song of the album. Whether you are religious or not, "God is Really Real" highlights the desparation one feels when a loved one is close to the end. You hear it in Jack's vocals, and you hear it in the rise of the guitars and choir. It's a beautiful track for anyone who has ever lost someone.

2085

"So if this is me, then I'll do my best/I'll take all the sh** so you'll never have to/You can be you, and I'll be the rest/Yeah, maybe that's who the h*** I am."

The ultimate conclusion to the album is incredible. While on the first listen it feels as though two songs are strung into one, it works in the context of "The Maybe Man" as a whole. He is able to reflect on what he learned — the value of connection, creativity and constant growth  — and say so in both a warm, guitar-driven piece and a larger-than-life ballad all tied in one song.

One of my favorite aspects of the song is after Jack repeats how "you" need to get better, he states, "I gotta get better; I'm all that I've got." To me, this alludes that there is a part of The Maybe Man in each of us; when we get lost in life, we all need to be reminded that we have to keep going at whatever pace is best for us.

‘Don’t let your curiosity be stifled’: Students, faculty discuss access to stories, discourse during Banned Books Week

The+librarys+display+for+Banned+Books+Week+features+books+that+have+been+banned+or+challenged%2C+including+The+Hunger+Games%2C+The+Bluest+Eye+and+Speak.+Librarian+Denise+Hernandez+said+the+display+was+meant+to+raise+awareness+about+censorship+across+the+country.+
Photo credit: Audrey Chang
The library’s display for Banned Books Week features books that have been banned or challenged, including “The Hunger Games,” “The Bluest Eye” and “Speak.” Librarian Denise Hernandez said the display was meant to raise awareness about censorship across the country.

The Handmaid’s Tale.” “The Bluest Eye.” “To Kill a Mockingbird.” These are all books that have been challenged or banned across the country, and they are also books taught in English classes at Archer.

According to the American Library Association, “in a time of intense political polarization, library staff in every state are facing an unprecedented number of attempts to ban books.” Additionally, 2022 marked the greatest number of attempted book bans since they started gathering data regarding censorship in libraries over two decades ago.

Preliminary data from Jan. 1-Aug. 31, 2023, revealed a 20% increase from the same reporting period in 2022. The majority of challenges were to books written by or about Black people, Indigenous people and people of color, as well as members of the LGBTQ+ community.

In response to a surge in the number of challenged books in schools, bookstores and libraries, the ALA launched Banned Books Week in 1982. The annual event aims to unite the book community in supporting the freedom of expression, learn about past and current efforts to remove or restrict access to books and highlight the importance of open access to information.

This year’s Banned Books Week spanned Oct. 1-7, and the theme was “Let Freedom Read.” Aligned with the mission of the week, librarian Denise Hernandez displayed books that have been historically banned or challenged in public libraries and schools across the country, including “The Hunger Games,” “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” and “Speak.”

“It’s important for everyone to know what’s at stake sometimes, or at least the privilege that we have here because we’re a private school, and we’re not really subject to parents calling and saying, ‘You need to get this book off the shelf.’ There’s a lot more freedom here — a lot more access to your curiosity and your learning and a lot less barriers from books that they call, maybe sexually explicit,” Hernandez said. “It’s insane because most of the books on [the display] talk about real-life issues, or their allegories and allusions to real-life issues.”  

According to a PEN America article, during the 2022-2023 school year, book bans were most common in Texas, South Carolina, Florida, Missouri and Utah. The article also stated that the “implications of bans in these five states are far-reaching, as policies and practices are modeled and replicated across the country.” School districts in different states are responding to new laws that decide the kinds of books that can be in schools and which types of policies they must follow to add new books.

English Department Chair Brian Wogensen said, although book banning has a long history, the recent surge in bans like these further increases the importance of learning the reasoning and effect of these limitations.  

“Now more than ever, highlighting the restrictions that are placed on ideas and stories [is important], and I say now more than ever because state governments are now involved in banning books, limiting reading — there’s just a real upsurge in it,” Wogensen said. “It’s important to keep us all thinking about those restrictions and the impact of them and the impact they can have on both dulling us and removing ideas from our world.” 

Junior Charlie Clayton ran the Freshmen-Sophomore Book Club last year and said she appreciates having access to books at Archer that have been challenged or banned. Clayton added that she finds it interesting to analyze the recurring themes or ideas present in these banned books.

“We’re lucky to [go to] a school where they put the banned books on the shelves,” Clayton said. “Books are banned for a lot of reasons, but it’s important for students to learn about the reasons that books have been banned … the most important thing [is] developing your own opinions, but making sure that they’re your own and developing a perspective about a book based on your own knowledge instead of it being banned.” 

Similarly, Wogensen emphasized the role of literature in providing a wide range of perspectives for students to consider so they can form their own opinions and engage in discourse.

“It gives students the opportunity to make decisions for themselves, to be confronted with diverse points of view and also to do that … in a classroom environment with collective inquiry with the guidance of a teacher who’s helping you explore, consider and digest a text,” Wogensen said. “As you ban books, you’re also banning disagreement, and I think disagreement is actually pretty important to our way of living and considering the human condition.”

As you ban books, you’re also banning disagreement, and I think disagreement is actually pretty important to our way of living and considering the human condition.”

— English Department Chair Brian Wogensen

  

The Archer library website showcases information about their current displays and the catalog of books they offer. Hernandez said she does not typically stop any sixth through 12th graders from checking out a book unless it is very inappropriate for their age level, but this does not happen very often.

“The studies show that a lot of people in general have a lot of faith in libraries and in their librarians because we’re so community-centered, community-focused,” Hernandez said. “My goal is that somebody sees the work that goes into the displays for Latinx Heritage Month, LGBT History Month, we have so many [displays] that we’re really lucky to have access to the books that we do.”

Wogensen said he believes teaching these books in a thoughtful way and examining why a book is banned is essential to discuss and understand when engaging with these texts. He particularly highlighted that readers should consider the possible motivations for banning a book and confront or think critically about those ideas.

“As far as banned books go, it’s not like we purposely choose books that are highly banned in the United States and put them on our curriculum … I think it just so happens that quite a few of the texts in our classes have been banned because they have dynamic subject matter,” Wogensen said. “A broader suggestion I have is: just don’t let your curiosity be stifled … read as much as you can, and seek out interesting stories.”

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About the Contributor
Audrey Chang
Audrey Chang, Editor-in-Chief
Audrey Chang joined the Oracle as a staff reporter in 2021 and became the News Editor in 2022. In 2023, she became the Editor-in-Chief. She played on the Archer varsity tennis team, was a member of the Ambassador Leadership Team Advisory Board and ran the For Goodness Cakes club. In her free time, you could find her baking, surfing and playing with her four dogs. She graduated in 2024.

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