Cleverly Titled: A Deep Dive Into The Lyrics of "Oh, Carolina"
A quick foreword:
I feel like it’s important for me to say, before I dive right in to bearing what is essentially my soul to the internet, that I’ve never really believed in telling friends/family/listeners what a song is about. Everyone experiences lyrics at different times in their life and I don’t want to rob someone of a truly unique interpretation of what I’m saying. I think partly because sometimes I don’t even know what I’m saying until I take a step back and look at what’s happened. The creative process is like that for me. All consuming. It is like a fever dream that you wake up from and suddenly there’s art where before there was not. I dunno. It’s all a little pompous (and slightly egotistical), but that’s what art is. All that to say, this record is different and because of its difference, I feel like it can help do the songs more justice to give some context to each. That and, I suppose, I have had a LOT of people ask me about song meanings, lyrics, etc… So ego be damned. Let’s dive in.
I feel like I should start this breakdown by saying that I am generally a happy person. I try not to take myself too seriously or wallow in my own introspection for hours on end. There are things about myself that I am afraid of though. I think that’s what translated into this song. I suppose I shouldn’t say “afraid”, but rather “aware.” I think that it’s important to unpack those things from time to time and look at them. It works as a sort of therapy for me. It takes the power away from them for me to say “this is who I am. These feelings are tangible and real. They are valid and coexist with who I am. I am not lesser because of them.”
“we were standing in the kitchen watching the sunset. You were missing the gold coast.”
So a good chunk of this song is about relocating my entire life, numerous times, to numerous places. Specifically, this line is about moving to Omaha, NE. I grew up as a military kid, so moving wasn’t something that was foreign to me. I suppose that never makes the process any easier. It also doesn’t make you less homesick sometimes. My first year in Nebraska was gold-plated, in a way. Everything is new, fresh, and exciting. It’s hard to complain about a years worth of new experiences, people, opportunities, etc… After a while the shine wears off and anywhere you are just becomes a place to live.
“Then three months passed like 18 years and we pushed ourselves right to the breaking point.
We found ourselves a little drunk, standing in the kitchen watching the sun go down like before.”
Remember when I said relocating isn’t easy? It’s not. It creates tension. It creates anxiety. It creates frustration and doubt and damn near want to cry sometimes. Nothing feels like home. Time moves in a different way. The rain smells different and sounds foreign. It’s all alien. My humanity, no matter how much I try to fight it, craves comfort. It wants the old friends. It wants the old restaurants, the streets, the traffic, the chaos. I can admit that I am not always the easiest person to live with. Stagnancy drives me crazy and, just as the old adage states, we hurt the ones we love the most. Probably because we know they will forgive us. Or at least that they have forgiven us in the past. Regardless, I think the next line is important because it brings some levity to the burden. Amidst all the frustration, we’re still the dumb 20-somethings, a little buzzed, a lot in love, trying to make life happen.
“I said “ I’m not afraid, but you think I’m brave and I don’t have the strength to be alone””
Because art isn’t always an organized process, and because I can be just a weird creator of music, this was actually what I had written first. It is a foreign sensation to admit that you aren’t strong enough to be alone. I am definitely someone who struggles with identity and legacy. How will I be remembered or will I even be remembered? What is my descriptor? What are my “things”? The journey of finding out who you are is one of the more beautiful aspects of life, but it’s not without its shortcomings. There is a deeper message about my mental health hidden underneath this, but I’m not sure that is ready to be unpacked at the moment.
“Carolina you’re on my mind every once in while.”
My not-so-subtle shout out to James Taylor. Consequently on my only acoustic song on the record. Some matches are just made in heaven.
Feel free to speculate the rest.
“Oh, Carolina, I was remembering the time that you let go.
You were standing in the kitchen, watching the sunset, you were missing the gold coast.
You said “I’m not afraid, but you think I’m brave and I don’t have the strength to be alone.”
Then 3 months passed like 18 years and we pushed ourselves right to the breaking point.
When we found ourselves a little drunk, standing in the kitchen watching the sun go down like before.
I said “I’m not afraid, but you think I’m brave and I don’t have the strength to be alone.”
Oh, Carolina, I had to sit and watch the sunset as your heart broke.
Eyes to the horizon, I sometimes hear your voice and feel your ghost.
In the evening rain or when the summer fades. A sweet serenade of stars.
Carolina, you’re on my mind every once in a while.”