Let Her Go – Analysis

Let Her Go by Passenger contains several lyric theory ideas that give the song its uniqueness:

1. The line counts are odd (3’s and 1’s).

2. The chorus is weak-bar and back-heavy.  “Only” comes on the weak note (4) of bar 1, i.e. back-heavy.  “Light” comes on the first note (downbeat) of the weak bar (2nd bar) of the foursome.  “Weak bar” is a style of writing used famously by The Cars (e.g. Heartbreak City).

3. Lyrically, the verse is sung front-heavy (starting on the downbeat).  “Staring” comes on the downbeat of bar 1.  This produces a difference (like “melodic rhythm” except with lyrics) between the chorus and the verse.

4. “Staring at     the bottom of your glass” is sung front-heavy.  Lyrically, this brings the listener back into reality – the guy is sitting at a bar looking into his glass.  Front-heavy is “stable”, it’s real.  Then – magically, almost – comes “hoping some day you’ll make a dream last” comes in back-heavy.  Back-heavy is “unstable”, it’s wistful – the listener drifts off into the singer’s dream state.  If you look at the sheet music (I found it on scribd), you can see the the lyrics completely avoid the downbeat of the second bar – “someday” stretches from the last note of bar 1 across the downbeat of bar 2 making “day” fall on a lesser note, spiking the wistfulness.  Amazing writing – shifting gears from front-heavy to back-heavy in two lines, all of which gives the prosody more ooomph.  The melody shifts gears along with the lyrics, carrying the listener along, unknowingly liking the song more because it feels “more emotional” (because of the prosody).

5. Rhyme scheme.  The triple lines are all rhymed AAA, except for the 3rd verse AAx (dark, heart, fast).

6. Rhyme scheme for the single line “And you let her go”.  “Go” does not rhyme with “go” (by definition).  Interesting choice.  The line stands out in the spotlight, alone on the stage.  We (the listeners) are used to hearing AAA and – suddenly – this one line does not rhyme.  Bang.

(from http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/passenger/lethergo.html)

"Let Her Go" lyrics

PASSENGER LYRICS
"Let Her Go"

-------------------------------------------
Strong/Weak Bar & Front/Back Heavy Analysis
-------------------------------------------

| bar 1                | bar 2
         4    &        1               2       &     3
Well you only need the light when it's burning low

              | bar 3
4             1           2         3    
Only miss the sun when it starts to snow

              | bar 4
4             1                 2       &   3
Only know you love her when you let her go

  | bar 5
4 1 2 3

                      | bar 6
     4                1                2       &   3
Only know you've been high when you're feeling low

              | bar 7
4             1                2       &    3
Only hate the road when you’re missin' home

              | bar 8
4             1                 2       &  3
Only know you love her when you let her go

  | bar 9
4 1 2 3

                | bar 10 |12   |13   |14
        4       1  2 3 4 1 ... 1 ... 1 ...
And you let her go

|16
1              2              3    
Staring at the bottom of your glass

       |17
4      1              2      &     3
Hoping one day you'll make a dream last
                |18
    4           1             2  &  3 4
But dreams come slow and they go so   fast

|19
1 2 3 4

... and so on ...


--------------
Verse Stresses
--------------

1                2               3    
/Staring at the /bottom of your /glass
4           1               2      &      3
/Hoping one    /day you'll /make a dream /last
    4           1             2  &  3 4
But dreams come slow and they go so   fast

1 2 3 4

    1                2          3 
You see her when you close your eyes
4     1              2          3 
Maybe one day you'll understand why
4              1     2      3    4
Everything you touch surely dies
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