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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.

Short Story: ‘I Missed the Beat’

Short+Story%3A+I+Missed+the+Beat

Part One- Chance Evans

I had trained hard for this. This race meant more than my life to me. More than playing double bass, more than my cat, Blue, more than anything. My best friend Jae was right next to me:

“Chance, you’ll do great! You’ve sprinted twice this distance in less than ten minutes!” That was true.

I tensed when the megaphone announced, “Take your mark!”

Swiftly, I pressed my foot against the spring of the board behind me. Relaxing all my muscles, I let my body become a machine.

“Get set!”

It was so long. I waited hours and days and years and millennia before I finally heard the one tiny two-letter word. All I could hear was my heart pulsing: Ba-boom, ba-boom.

“Go!”

The man fired the gun in the air, but I didn’t hear it. My ears were filled with ba-boom and slap slap slap as my sneakers hit the ground. I was pulling ahead of everyone. C’mon, Chance. You can do it. The halfway mark was nearing me. Just a quarter mile to go from there. I passed it first. Riley Carter was on my tail, but there was no way he could catch up.

I ran and ran. It seemed like forever but I focused on my heartbeat and my breath. I was the one who would win the ten grand. I would get the glory of being the fastest runner in the state. The red ribbon was set in my eyes. I could see it now.

I was only about a hundred feet from it when Riley Carter, Amelie Ailen and Jackie Kendra passed me. Bursting with speed, I managed to pass Amelie. Then I was running with the red ribbon fluttering around my waist.

Riley and Jackie were cheering. Why would they cheer if they came in second and third? I stared at the scoreboard. Something wasn’t right.

It read: Chance Evans, third place.

That can’t be true. It’s a mistake.

It’s not a mistake.

I missed the beat.

“Chancie, it’s okay. You tried.” My father. But I didn’t win. And if I didn’t win, it wasn’t fun.

“I valued that race above my life. I even got athlete’s heart. I had to go to the hospital.”

He sighed.

“Chance Hailey Evans, that race does not matter.” But it does. I missed the beat.

I MISSED THE BEAT

I MISSED THE SONG

I SHOULD’VE SKIPPED IT ALL ALONG

 

Part Two- Doctor Tyler Jacobs

“Doctor Jacobs! We have a patient who needs to see you immediately!” the nurse cried. I hurried down the stairwell and burst through the doors labelled URGENT CARE in big, fat, white letters. My patient was a little boy. His father held his hand and sang gently to him. It was a song about a bird that was lost and cold and tired but couldn’t land because there was ocean beneath him.

The boy coughed, then lurched. A fountain of blood shot out of his mouth. His heart monitor was jumping. Don’t give up, little bird. You can find your way.

I grabbed my tools and medicines. He had bronchiectasis. I had to save him.

I looked into the boy’s eyes, “Hello. I promise that we’ll cure you.” It was a promise I could keep. He looked up at me, “It’s not going to hurt, is it?” I shook my head and began to take out my anesthesia and some surgical tools. I’d have to do surgery.

After knocking the boy, Spencer, out with some meds and giving him the anesthesia, I sent his father away and began the procedure, checking the heart monitor every few minutes. It seemed to be normal. I injected some things into his lungs. They weren’t too infected with the disease yet. It was just the early stages. With some therapy, he could live.

The heart monitor started going wild. Spencer started choking. His airway blocked up. I gasped. No. The sun couldn’t go down. He couldn’t stop flying.

I pulled out my defibrillators. Quickly plunging them into his chest, his body jumped. I started sweating. Then I realized it. I reached towards his blocked airway to unblock it right as the

sun

went

down.

The heart monitor beeped its long, unvarying beep. Its green line was straight and discontinued. Spencer’s airway was still blocked. The bird had fallen to the sea. I wrapped a cloth around Spencer’s chest, where I had operated. His chest no longer rose and fell.

Spencer’s father burst in. “No, no, no! This can’t be happening!” He gave me a look that I knew he was trying to suppress. A look that meant “you killed my son”.

It was true. I missed the beat. I was too slow. My sun had set. My bird had fallen.

I could never live with myself. I missed the beat.

WE’VE HAD OUR LAUGH

WE’VE HAD OUR FUN

NOW IT’S OVER BUT I’M NOT DONE

 

Part Three- Sam Blue

She was there. I knew it.

Kayth was in the audience.

My conductor waved his arms and gave us the tempo, then signaled our start. My bow ran across my violin. It struck the most beautiful notes I could make.

To a normal person, the notes would’ve been baffling scribbles mixed in with crescendoes and upbows, riddled with clefs and lines and even numbers. To me it was a language, one I could play and had played a thousand times. And maybe would play a thousand times.

I had a four measure rest. For that moment, I put down my violin and stared out into the audience. They were barely visible due to the fact that light was shining in my eyes, but I managed to make out Kayth’s face. She was so beautiful. Kayth caught my eye and smiled her magnificent smile.

My violin set neatly into place between my jaw and my shoulder. I played and played. This was like the times when I would sit in my room and play, a boy and his violin. Alone and together. Forever and ever.

My solo was coming up. I started sweating. The final cue, my cue, sounded. A staccato note from the cellos.

I slid my bow across the strings. The note bounced off the walls of the school auditorium. It wasn’t so bad. I continued playing, nearing the end of my solo. Everyone was staring straight at me. I sweated even more. And more and more.

Playing the fourth-to-last measure, I slipped. My bow screeched across the bridge and travelled the long distance to the fingerboard. Everyone laughed. My family was laughing, the audience was laughing, Kayth was laughing.

Kayth.

How could she laugh at me? She knew how much this meant to me. Every single orchestra member glared at me. Even the conductor gave me a dirty look. I felt as if this were a dream not much unlike the one where you go to school without any pants on. My face turned redder than a beet.

But worse than everything, I had stopped playing.

Now the entire Waterview Middle School Orchestra was sitting awkwardly on the high stage. The conductor waved his arms, hoping he could possibly save this. He couldn’t.

We exited the stage. A girl named Angelie shoved me into a wall backstage. “Nice going. Thanks a lot. You ruined it for my grandparents. They came all the way from Italy to see this.”

Putting my head in my hands, I sat on a bench. I heard a voice, “Don’t worry, it’s okay.” I looked up to see Kayth. She failed to suppress a little snicker.

I missed the beat. I missed everything. It was over. I threw my violin against the wall where it splintered. I’d never play it again.

A MOMENT TOO SOON

A MOMENT TOO LATE

THERE’S NOTHING TO THIS YOU CAN RELATE

 

Part Four- Mrs. Light

I walked slowly into the church, clutching my cane. Figured I didn’t have much left in life, so I came to give a little prayer. I’m old and there’s nothing I could do about it.

The church was empty except for three little shadows. They were heavily cloaked and huddling to the walls. Two youngsters and a man, I reckoned. Poor fellows.

I sat down next to a little boy who looked to be about fifteen. “‘Ello, little fella. Why’re ya here at this hour?”

The little bloke turned to me. He had obviously been cryin’ his eyes out. “Ma’am, I guess I just want what I really can’t have. I want a second chance. I know it’s pretty foolish, but I was hoping someone might grant me one if I came here. I’m Sam Blue, by the way.”

“Well, Mr. Blue, wouldja enlight’n me on a little of yer past?”

“I’d rather not speak of it.”

“All right, love. Sometimes it’s best ta think fer yerself.”

“Bless you, Miss…”

“Carrie Light. Nice ta meet ya.”

The little thing stood up and walked to the front of the church and stood looking at the fountain. I moved up a few rows and sat by a man who still had on a doctor’s coat of some sort.

“‘Ello, man. Why’re you here?”

He hesitated at first, seeming to ponder over whether or not to tell me. “The bird couldn’t find his way. He fell into the ocean in the dark of the night.”

At first I didn’t recognize his nonsense, but then I noticed his nametag. “Doctor Jacobs. My, you’re the bloke who tried to save my grandson’s life! Little Spencer. Poor thing.”

The man put his head in his hands. I put my arm around him, “You done good, sir. He was due to die. You helped him. Don’t beat yerself up for tryin’. Tryin’ is good enough. Whadda you hope to accomplish here, sir?”

“I guess I just want another chance. If I had another chance, I could’ve saved him.”

“Look, sir, Spencer’s not comin’ back. You can believe it, though. Never hurts to believe.”

“Sorry to be rude, Miss, but I think you’re wrong. Believing can hurt. It hurts when your belief is crushed.”

“Sorry ya see it that way. Thank you, sir.”

He made his way up to the fountain and stood next to the boy.

I ambled up to the girl in front. “What’re you here for, lass?”

“I don’t know. Everything is so stupid. I’ll never get another chance.”

“Lass, If ya believe that, you’ll never get it.”

“I guess.”

“Hey, aren’t you the lass who’s faster than lightnin’?”

“No.”

“Aren’t you Chance Evans?”

“Yes. But I’m not fast. I lost.”

“Winning isn’t everything, you know, love.”

“People say that, but I disagree. It’s about fun, and it isn’t fun if I don’t win.”

“Love, you are faster than lightnin’. I seen ya. Stop beatin’ yerself up.”

“Okay.”

The girl wrapped her arms around me, let go,  and then stood, walking carefully toward the fountain. It was cold and dark and late at night so I ambled down the aisle and exited the church. Looking behind me, I saw a blinding gush of light and I wondered to myself. I wondered if they had gotten another chance.

IT’S NO GREAT FEAT

IF I MISSED THE BEAT.

—–

Featured Image: Varsity Track 2012. Photo Source: Archer Athletics

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  • M

    Ms. DahlinApr 30, 2013 at 10:34 pm

    Lola, just like your writing in history class, this story is moving and deep. I love the way you use words to create a such a vivid experience for your readers. Keep up the great work!

    Reply
  • H

    HannahApr 30, 2013 at 9:12 pm

    Absolutely AMAZING!

    Reply