Tag Archives: symbolism

Literary Analysis: “The Way” by Fastball

At first listen (or read through) it would appear that the song is about two people deciding to take a vacation.  Upon analysis, however, there is more to it, veiled in metaphor and other literary/poetic devices.  I will discuss these elements, as well as examples of the figures of speech, hyperbole and personification that make up the song.  Also among the lyrics is the heavy (the ‘catch’ of the song) alliteration.  All of these elements combined with a curious use of rhyme, diction and syntax make for a peculiar arrangement of words and word order.  The use of these elements creates a strong symbolism.  Ultimately, I will offer my opinion as to what this arrangement symbolizes, based upon my interpretation of the lyrics.

The hallmark of the song is the reuse of consonant sounds, and this becomes evident quite quickly.  The song breaks right into its use of alliteration with the first line “They made up their minds.”  The words “they/there” and “made/minds” follow one another closely in a repetition of consonants.  The element is used again in the fourth line with “summer slacking.”  The most repeated (and titular) line of the song has the heaviest use of alliteration. Starting with the fifth line, “Where were they going without ever knowing the way?” asks the question using a string of four words with “w” sounds.  It is repeated again in the tenth, and twenty-fifth lines. Quite cleverly, the sentence also shows an example of midsentence rhyme with “going/knowing.”

Rhyme is also heavily used throughout the rest of the song.  It is exhibited very quickly in the second line “packing” resolving neatly with “slacking” in line four. The prior line is matched to the fifth, pairing “day/way.”  The same scheme is repeated again in the next stanza, working again with the “-ing” sound with “talking/walking” in lines seven and nine.  Also repeated is the “-ay” sound in lines eight and ten with “say/way.”  The first line of verse one curiously rhymes with the first line the subsequent verse, albeit awkward with “minds/wine.”  Vocalized, the rhyming nature of the words becomes more clear, and a clever treat to a discerning ear.

The chorus brings a new series of rhyme in lines eleven and twelve, matching “gold/cold.” The similarly sounding endings of “somewhere/care” follow in lines fifteen and seventeen.  The chorus (lines eighteen and nineteen) is wrapped up using rhyme as well.  The author pairs the words “highway/today,” which also become noticed in the vocalization.  A short bridge reuses “’em” which rhymes with itself in lines twenty-one and twenty-four.  The “-ay” sound is borrowed again with “day/way” in lines twenty-two and twenty-five.  Using similar consonant and rhyming words (the author’s diction) and how they are pieced together (syntax), makes for a relatively bouncy flow. They roll off the tongue in some instances, showing an intricate attention to meter.  The repetition of beats in “star-ted pack-ing” in line two matches that of line four with “sum-mer slack-ing.”

The words chosen make for interesting figurative language.  “Shadows” are personified as “wandering off somewhere” in lines fifteen and thirty. Hyperbole is used in describing a road “paved in gold” in line eleven.  “Eternal summer slacking” in line four, replaces ‘taking it easy’ or other similar phrases as metaphor. Another way of describing inebriation and professions of love can be witnessed in lines six through eight with “they drank up the wine, and they got to talking, they now had more important things to say…”

It can be deduced from the opening lines, “They made up their minds, and they started packing, they left before the sun came up that day,” that the characters in the song hastily planned a journey.  The imagery of “an exit to eternal summer slacking,” paints the picture that they were looking to ‘get away from it all.’ A lack of concern is shown “when the car broke down (and) they started walking” in line nine. The oft asked question is immediately is posed with “Where were they going without ever knowing the way” in the next line. Walking down a road “paved in gold,” where “it’s always summer, they’ll never get cold,” one can assume that they are walking towards a much better place (lines eleven and twelve). This is further affirmed in lines thirteen and fourteen, claiming “they’ll never get hungry; they’ll never get old and gray.”

This road and the characters journey down it, symbolizes, in my opinion, growing old and a final progression towards death.  I imagine the characters being nearing the end of their lives, and losing all of their worldly concerns. That “they won’t make it home, but they really don’t care” in lines sixteen and seventeen (thirty-one and thirty two), makes me believe that they have accepted their situation and that they are ready for the next stage in the journey of the spirit.  The fact that “anyone can see the road that they walk down is paved in gold” (eleven and twenty-six) leads me to think that those around them would accept their decision to walk down that road.  It would appear in lines eighteen and nineteen (thirty-three and thirty-four, as well) that “they wanted the highway” and “they’re happier there today.” (05/21/2009)

 

“The Way” by Fastball

They made up their minds
And they started packing
They left before the sun came up that day
An exit to eternal summer slacking
5 But where were they going without ever knowing the way?
They drank up the wine
And they got to talking
They now had more important things to say
And when the car broke down They started walking
10 Where were they going without ever knowing the way?

CHORUS:

Anyone could see The road that they walk on is paved in gold
And It’s always summer, they’ll never get cold
They’ll never get hungry
They’ll never get old and gray
15 You can see their shadows wandering off somewhere
They won’t make it home
But they really don’t care
They wanted the highway
They’re happier there today , today

20 The children woke up
And they couldn’t find ’em
They left before the sun came up that day
They just drove off
And left it all behind ’em
25 But where were they going without ever knowing the way?

Anyone could see The road that they walk on is paved in gold
And It’s always summer, they’ll never get cold
They’ll Never get hungry
They’ll never get old and gray
30 You can see their shadows wandering off somewhere
They won’t make it home
But they really don’t care
They wanted the highway
They’re happy there today , today (repeat)

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Sources:

DiYanni, Robert. Literature: Approaches to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2008.

Sing365.com. “The Way.” Fastball. http://www.sing365.com/music/lyric.nsf/The-Way-lyrics-Fastball/911972CACA8AA944482568BD0034F647

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