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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.

Op-Ed: To each their own: The importance of personal poetic interpretations

My+first+out+of+15+haikus+about+Charles+Darwin+is+in+quotes.+Compared+to+when+I+had+no+prior+knowledge+about+poetry+and+didnt+understand+why+it+mattered%2C+I+now+feel+a+deeper+appreciation+for+how+poetry+evokes+different+feelings+for+each+reader.+%28Graphic+Illustration+by+Melinda+Wang%29
Photo credit: Melinda Wang
My first out of 15 haikus about Charles Darwin is in quotes. Compared to when I had no prior knowledge about poetry and didn’t understand why it mattered, I now feel a deeper appreciation for how poetry evokes different feelings for each reader. (Graphic Illustration by Melinda Wang)

I was in fifth grade when I wrote my first poems about the life of Charles Darwin for a school assignment. I created 15 separate haikus about pivotal moments in Darwin’s life, which, looking back, was a weird assignment for my first time writing poetry. With no clear guidance on writing haikus outside of their metrical structure, I thought of a haiku as an essay cut down into extremely short sentences, or, essentially, prose.

As I read more poetry in middle school, I gained a better idea of how to write it, and I learned there was so much more to poetry beyond its definition. I noticed poetry wasn’t as rigid in form and theme as I imagined and realized poems have the power to evoke feelings that change depending on the person.

Writing poetry has made me more creative; I started off with haikus and freeform poetry, but as I grew older, I began experimenting with meter and form to elevate the visual and auditory impact of my words. I found that writing poetry about the mundane can be fun, and it has helped me find new ways to describe common objects like a bed or a pencil.

Poems don’t necessarily need punctuation, capitalization or proper grammar. I grew to see poetry as a malleable form of expression in which universal and nuanced topics can be communicated in as little as a single letter. As my understanding of poetry deepened, I began to feel a greater appreciation for poets and how their ideas are often communicated in a way that leaves the reader to interpret them.

Poems often have double or hidden meanings, which are communicated through a variety of literary devices. “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” by Wallace Stevens demonstrates this in a metaphor exploring the different ways to see a bird in unique settings in nature, offering 13 ways to interpret the blackbird’s presence as it flies.

This interpretation aspect of poetry is especially important, as finding unique messages in poems is a fulfilling way to gain new perspectives and think critically about what words could represent. While genres of novels such as fiction also offer room for readers’ interpretations, there is often more context and plot for readers to draw from, making their interpretations less personal and more plot-based. Poems are often shorter than works of fiction but have equally impactful themes, allowing readers to more easily read and interpret them in a shorter amount of time.

In middle school, I gleaned my own interpretations from poems like “Remember” by Joy Harjo and “Lines Written in Early Spring” by William Wordsworth, which helped me develop a more personal appreciation of the complexities of nature and how humans have impacted it. Personal connections to poetry can spark a desire to create change in response to issues. Personally, middle school assemblies and lessons on the importance of recycling attempted to do the same for environmental issues but rarely succeeded.

Poetry is also a powerful medium for shedding light on a cause. For example, I recently co-published an anthology of work from artists and writers from both the United States and Ukraine, and I contributed a poem highlighting the need for more empathy across the globe. My goal for this book is to raise awareness of humanitarian crises like the Russo-Ukrainian War through mediums of writing and art.  

For anyone looking to read poetry but doesn’t know where to start, I recommend reading any poems on Poetry Foundation that catch your eye; as one of the largest online poetry databases, there are more than 46,000 poems to choose from. I especially recommend a poem called “Ars Poetica” by Archibald MacLeish about the art of writing poetry and what makes a successful poem. For anyone looking to write poetry, I suggest starting off with short form poetry like haikus and limericks.

I use poetry as an outlet to develop my creativity, process my actual experiences and ponder anything in my life that I find interesting. Poetry doesn’t have to express monumental ideas or experiences; the world’s shortest poem can be uniquely interpreted by different people. As for me, I see my haikus about Darwin as my first step into the amazing world of poetry, and learning to interpret poems has helped me discover new ways to explore this world.

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About the Contributor
Melinda Wang
Melinda Wang, Senior Reporter
Melinda Wang joined The Oracle as a staff reporter in 2022 and is now a senior reporter. She takes art classes and is invested in community service outside of Archer. When she isn't doing homework, you can find her reading, sketching or taking photos.

Comments (1)

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    raymondMar 25, 2024 at 10:13 pm

    Poets use rhythm, rhyme, and literary devices to convey the intensity of their feelings, creating an emotional resonance with readers.

    Reply