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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.

Column: ‘Happy Place’ for ‘Book Lovers’

This+photo+displays+the+front+cover+of+Emily+Henry%E2%80%99s+Happy+Place.+Henrys+dependable+annual+release+takes+readers+through+a+bubbly+summer+romance.+With+its+adorable+Maine+summer+house+location+and+playful+friend+group+dynamic%2C+the+couples+were+so+fun+to+get+to+know.+Photo+Source%3A+Image+from+Official+Emily+Henry+Site.+
This photo displays the front cover of Emily Henry’s “Happy Place.” Henry’s dependable annual release takes readers through a bubbly summer romance. With its adorable Maine summer house location and playful friend group dynamic, the couples were so fun to get to know. Photo Source: Image from Official Emily Henry Site.

With the exception of school-assigned summer reading books, summer is a time when it’s acceptable to primarily read “trashy” romances. I indulged in my own fair share this summer; to save face, I’ll pretend that my fixation on these books was purely for “research,” considering I flew through 23 of them in seven weeks. 

As a now well-qualified “trashy” book reader, it’s safe to say some of them fairly deserve their “trashy” characterization. However, grouping all summer-y novels under the label would be unjust. Bestselling author Emily Henry deserves exemption from this category. 

A pillar in the romance section of bookstores, Henry’s novels are a consistent favorite in the beach read category; this is fitting, since her first bestseller, released in 2020, was Beach Read.” Other favorites include “People We Meet on Vacation” (2021), “Book Lovers” (2022) and her most recent publication — the focus of this column — “Happy Place.” The novel earned an impressive 14 weeks on the New York Times Bestsellers list as of Aug. 13 and was credited in their top 15 reads of 2023.

Henry’s yearly summer book release is a consistent “add to cart” before a vacation. The relatability of the characters in their respective summer atmospheres makes it easy to drown in the worlds of her novels. I raced through “Happy Place” in a mere 10 hours. My friends consistently used the phrases “page-turner” and “couldn’t put it down” when describing Henry’s latest novel. 

“Happy Place” centers around three college roommates reuniting on a final trip to their former summer home or “happy place” located at one of the girls’ cottages in Maine. As someone who spends her summers in Maine, this book hit especially close to home. The main plot of the novel follows ex-fiancés Harriet and Wyn as they attempt to hide the fact they have been long broken up.

The story alternates between the two timelines of their initial attraction all the way up to their breakup and their current ups and downs as they attempt to fool their friends that they remain the “golden couple” they once were. I found myself dreading the end of the chapters, as I was so invested in the current timeline, then doing the exact same thing when the next timeline switched back. 

Now, I’d say spoiler warning, but this is still a romance novel, which typically makes it quite easy to predict the book’s outcome. So obviously, the former couple endures a series of comical yet bittersweet events that eventually lead to the revelation of their remaining feelings. However, they are not the only ones in the group hiding a secret from the rest. This group aspect and the other characters’ personal difficulties added new layers to the story.

If I wasn’t invested before, this subplot changed that. The fun-loving yet realistic dynamic of their friend group was so admirable and exciting to read. One of my favorite parts of reading occurs after a plot twist when you mentally try and rewire the story with the new information. Piecing together the puzzle of this story was a wonderful addition to this book. 

Henry took a different direction with “Happy Place” than her previous works. The couple’s internal battles — balancing a longing for one another and their distrust from their past — play out alongside the group’s overall dread in facing the harsh reality that the comfort of their happy place had become a fleeting warmth: in their inevitable future comes the house’s repurchase. 

While these problems are arguably still surface-level angst, Henry explores the theme of happiness and urges readers to criticize the limitations placed upon joy. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Henry said, “It’s kind of a weird thing that we don’t feel like we are allowed to be happy. We have to stick out whatever we start, and I just hope that people who are ready for a change feel a little lighter and more empowered to choose whatever makes them happy.”  

It was a pleasure to follow Wyn and Harriet through their trepidation and ultimately gratifying reunion. All these elements make “Happy Place” a perfect addition to Henry’s summer style, a must-read for fellow, proud “trashy” book fans. 

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About the Contributor
Madeleine Beaubaire
Madeleine Beaubaire, Columnist
Madeleine Beaubaire writes a column about books and reading.

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    Ella SchwartzOct 17, 2023 at 8:56 pm

    Love it!

    Reply