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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.


"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.


"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.

Learning alongside them: Orchestra director announces retirement after 23 years with program

Photo credit: Vivianne Arnold
Smith demonstrates how she conducts her students in the orchestra room. The Spring Concert in May was Smith’s last as orchestra director at Archer. “I hope that the joy and the whimsy continues,” Smith said. “I hope that the program continues to grow. I hope that students still want to be in this space and be together in this space.”

The vibrations of bows on strings and air in flutes breathe music into the orchestra room, the halls of Archer and the lives of students. The orchestra has been a staple of student life for the majority Archer’s existence, and it would not be what it is today without Orchestra Director Susan Smith.

Smith began working at Archer 23 years ago, and she created and shaped the orchestra program. This school year was her last at Archer, as she announced her retirement May 8. Smith said when she first started teaching a middle school exploratory strings class in 2001, the strings program consisted of just seven students.

“We just would rehearse once a week at lunch in the parlor. We would carry our music stands down there, and we did that for a year or so,” Smith said. “And then I asked them, ‘Gee, do you think you could come after school once a week?’ and they said yes. And so the following year, I had a few more students.”

The program continued to grow from there. What started as seven students rehearsing in one small group is now over 40 students in four separate ensembles across middle and upper school.

In addition to size expansion, the orchestra program has also changed in form. Smith said there was initially no set musical concert. Instead, small musical ensembles would be interspersed with dance numbers during the Night of Music and Dance. As the orchestra and choir programs grew, it became apparent that a separate event was necessary. This led to the creation of the winter and spring concerts.

“[The orchestra program is] completely transformed. They are doing advanced repertoire,” Tracy Poverstein, who has taught as a theater teacher at Archer for 24 years, said. “Every time I go to the concerts, and especially this last one, I was just in the dining hall thinking ‘Oh my gosh, this is amazing what she’s done.’ And the difference when you’ve been here this long — you can really see how things have grown.”

Hannah O’Connor, Archer’s choral director and Smith’s self-proclaimed work-wife, said Smith moved to the United States from Germany when she was 16 and playing with an orchestra helped her integrate into a new community and country. O’Connor said one of the reasons Smith wanted to share music with students was because of the large impact it had on her own life.

Smith conducts the Upper School Orchestra in this year’s Winter Concert. Smith said, although she is leaving, she plans to stay connected to the orchestra program. “I’m not going to be a stranger,” Smith said. “I am absolutely going to be continuing to support the performing arts program here and coming to see everybody in their shows.” (Photo credit: Emily Paschall)

“I know that that was really formative for her and that she wants to keep bringing that to students,” O’Connor said. “And she has brought it to students for over 20 years.”

Flutist Avalon Straiton (’24) started playing in the Upper School Orchestra when she first joined Archer her sophomore year.  She said she couldn’t imagine an orchestra program without Smith and that she appreciates how Smith fosters a fun and caring rehearsal environment while still keeping everyone on task.

“I feel super supported by her. I feel like she knows orchestra super well,” Straiton said. “She pretty much is Archer orchestra.”

Poverstein said it is not just musicians who have been impacted by Smith’s time at Archer. Poverstein said the entire community has come to appreciate music more because of Smith, and she added that Smith has always supported her as a colleague and friend.

“Ms. Smith leads with her heart, but with high expectations and really clear class management and boundaries,” Poverstein said. “But in such a loving way that students want to impress her, and they want to be better for her.”

Smith said the orchestra program is constantly shifting, whether it is an increase in musicians or a rise in student leadership. Smith said her main focus as the orchestra director has always been meeting students’ needs and helping them improve their skills and find happiness in music.

“I would say my immediate goal is that it’s joyful, that it brings the students together and that they can enjoy making music with their friends,” Smith said. “And then of course, also learn new skills and be exposed to different genres of music. But at the end of the day, to me, music and the arts should be something that makes your life better, that’s a positive.”

Smith said she feels the orchestra program has had an equal impact on other lives as she has had on the program. She said she plans to stay involved with music after her retirement.

I feel like I’ve really grown up here as an adult. I mean, I was 26 when I started here and just pretty new to teaching … but I’ve grown up here,” Smith said. “I’ve learned so much from my students. I feel like I’ve grown my confidence as an educator and musician and as a leader and conductor. All the while the students have been learning, I have been learning all along with them.

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About the Contributors
Vivianne Arnold
Vivianne Arnold, Staff Reporter
Vivianne Arnold joined the Oracle as a staff reporter in 2023. She is a board member of Archer's GSA and is involved in theater. In her free time, she enjoys reading, playing D&D with friends and listening to music.
Emily Paschall
Emily Paschall, Senior Reporter
Emily Paschall joined the Oracle as a staff reporter in 2022. She is now a senior reporter. She participates in dance at Archer. She is also a part of the Ambassador Leadership Team Advisory Board and Dance Leadership Team. In her free time, Emily enjoys spending time with family and friends, listening to K-pop or Taylor Swift, and playing with her dog.

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As part of Archer’s active and engaged community, the Editorial Board welcomes reader comments and debate and encourages community members to take ownership of their opinions by using their names when commenting. However, in order to ensure a diverse range of opinions, the editorial board does allow anonymous comments on articles as long as the perspective cannot be obtained elsewhere, and they are respectful and relevant. We do require a valid, verified email address, which will not be displayed, but will be used to confirm your comments. Because we are a 6-12 school, the Editorial Board reserves the right to omit profanity and content that we deem inappropriate for our audience. We do not publish comments that serve primarily as an advertisement or to promote a specific product. Comments are moderated and may be edited in accordance with the Oracle’s profanity policy, but the Editorial Board will not change the intent or message of comments. They will appear once approved.
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    Tracy PoversteinJun 3, 2024 at 6:15 am

    What a lovely tribute Vivi. You not only captured the facts, but also the feeling and you painted the picture of the impact Ms. Smith has had.