Here follows part 2 of my breakdown of “12 Stars” (the version I consider the definitive one, but as we discussed with the Op to my Ed yesterday, there also exists the pristine version that Grace performed on her YouTube channel moments after finishing the song which cannot be discounted as a legitimate artwork. It just didn’t suit my analysis). For those who missed it, this is the version I’m reviewing:
Back for more?
Thank you, I appreciate your patience.
“She sees his face, everyday,”
With this line Grace is acting as an unreliable narrator, potentially adding information to the story, or is she taking back something said before? “She sees his face everyday,” could imply the object of her (now back to “she” and not “me”) affection is actually a stranger; a love from afar. The parting before may have simply been “him” passing by on the sidewalk at the same time in front of the store where she works; we are left guessing, or assuming.
“and maybe one day he’ll say that I’ve always felt “that” way,”
We’re back to her daydreaming again, hoping against all odds that this person, who may actually be a stranger, by some miracle of good fortune, will declare his love for her.
“but deep down she’s aware that, that’s not something she would ever really hear,
and deep down she’s aware that that’s not something that’ll ever reach her ears,”
The same lines as before, but now Grace delivers them with a growing urgency and passion, especially on the “but”, we can feel her ratcheting up the tension, letting us know that this is likely coming to a head.
“So and go ahead and kill me, as long as he is safe,
go ahead and shoot me, as long as I can see his face,
when I’m gone.
When I’m gone.
When I’m gone.”
Each delivery of the three “When I’m gone” lines reverses the tension that Grace built up over the last third of the song, implying once again a resignation that this is an impossible situation, and perhaps it will be a terminal one.
An emotional roller coaster comprised of all ebbs and twists, but no crests; an unrelenting emotional beat down, from a then scrawny little 12-year-old little girl. As Grace grows so will her mastery of language, it’s something that will allow her to turn us inside out even more deftly with her songs. Are we ready?
Have you noticed that I’ve gone through this entire analysis without once exploring the title?
Let’s do this.
Grace once said that she chose the title because she wrote it when she was 12 and just added the “Stars”… because she likes stars.
Sorry, Grace. Not buying it.
Grace has been rather elusive regarding providing her fans with consistent meanings for the lyrics of her songs. She often has valid reason to do this as she writes from her personal experiences more often than not and probably feels that some obfuscation is necessary to protect the innocent, whether that’s herself, her family, or friends.
Surely, however, this tragic song cannot have come from the personal experience of a 12 year old girl, so why such a strange title?
First let’s delve briefly into the history of the concept of the iconographic imagery associated with “12 stars”, for some it might be surprising that it will take us back to the very beginning of civilization.
In ancient times, before Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and even before people worshipped Osiris along the Nile, there existed the knowledge of astrology, the 12 signs of the zodiac. Could Grace be referring to this concept? Probably not, though she may be making a vague reference to the stars not “aligning” for the protagonist of her song and how they failed to fulfil her desire to be loved by the one she loves.
Grace may also be making a biblical reference, “The Woman of the Apocalypse”.
Chapter 12 of the Book of Revelation…
“And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars”
This striking imagery is most frequently associated with the Virgin Mary, or ‘Our Lady of Sorrows’.” That’s pretty deep, but so is Grace. Could she be making references to a woman seeking her faith or salvation in God, but failing to find it? Is it about a woman losing her religion? This is just as likely an explanation as the astrological one.
Or it could be that Grace was 12 and just really liked looking up at the stars? We may never know.
My guess? I think Grace likes to paint pictures with words, abstract pictures (wait until you read my analysis of “Lungs”).
Grace doesn’t seem overly concerned with literal meanings in her songs, but rather she creates striking images in your mind that she can then alter and play with as she pleases once she has placed your mind’s eye on the canvas of her own imagination.
I think she wanted to impart a sense of mystery, perhaps for the cognoscenti the allegories I listed above, and for the innocent a sense of vague and mysterious wonder. Remember that wry smile she gives in the middle of her otherwise suitably somber performance of A-Team, the moment when she flubbed the chords on her guitar? That was a Mona Lisa smile, a subtle gesture to her audience as if to say “Did you catch that?” “Let’s keep it our little secret, shall we?” I think this title of “12 Stars” is another one of her Mona Lisa smiles. Keep smiling Grace, keep us guessing.
We love it.
BREAKING NEWS EDITORIAL: “Clearly” will be released this coming Friday
By Mark Lalonde
It’s finally official!
Grace will be releasing her new redux of “I Can See Clearly Now” re-titled as “Clearly” this Friday, March 30th, 2018.
Based on the fact that the announcement was made via an interview in USA Today accompanied by brand new photos produced solely for this promotion, it seems clear (sorry) that Sony Music/Columbia Records is ready to put some money and muscle into promoting this single.
Grace looks amazed and amazingly mature in the promotional photograph supporting the single’s release. This, I assume will be the tip of the iceberg for the promotion to follow. Let’s keep our fingers crossed, but it seems that the drought (of Grace-related news and appearances) is over!
If the photograph provided today is any indication of the direction the label is going in promoting Grace moving forward, then we have a lot to look forward to: this is Grace being treated with the respect she deserves as a true artist.
Notice also how Th3rd Brain and Grace’s record label are now re-shaping Grace’s image from that of a precocious and adorable prodigy into a teenage fashion model and songwriter. It’s a distinct and welcome shift from my perspective.
I’m certain that her quick-witted, and often goofy, sense of humour will not be abandoned, but it is being put aside for the moment in favour of crafting the new visual aspect of Grace as a young woman rather than a child.
I am so excited at the thought of finally getting to hear the fully realized studio recording and produced version of “Clearly”. I loved it as Grace performed it live on the Just The Beginning Tour, and especially in the very polished rendition she performed at the Beacon Theater in New York City last week. This very well may be the single that breaks Grace into the mainstream.
VanderVault.org will be here to track the song’s progress on the charts (streaming, actual sales, and radio play), and, of course, provide our usual in-depth analysis of the song itself on Saturday (the day after its release).
Exciting times ahead!
This article was first posted on VanderVault’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XydnaaaaSnE&lc=UgyWveFKxlBMt2qyrm94AaABAg