Early in Grace VanderWaal’s career, before the world had taken notice of the precocious preteen, she performed a song to a small gathering of patrons at the BeanRunner Cafe that she’d titled Miss You, and in concert has called Missing You. Take your pick, but under any title it was a harbinger of the enormous talent housed in her little body – so little that even wearing bright red platform shoes that cool April day wasn’t enough to lift her into that unreachable stratosphere of being five feet tall. But height being a relative thing, Grace the mighty giant of music-land, at the grand ol’ age of twelve, had crafted for our enjoyment a mighty fine little tune about lost friendship.

Before we begin a line-by-line examination, let’s have a look at the lyrics in whole. Note first that these don’t match lyrics on either genius.com or metrolyrics, though metrolyrics is only off by a word or two. Also, Miss You isn’t listed on the lyrics page of gracevanderwaal.com, so we don’t have official canon (though having canon wouldn’t be saying much, as the lyrics posted on Grace’s website seem to have been cut directly from genius.com, which have been notoriously inaccurate.) Note also that I’ve included the Café version along with lyrics performed months later at the Lafayette Theatre. Differences are noted as follows:

{ } enclose unique BeanRunner lyrics
( ) enclose unique Lafayette lyrics
| | enclose disputed lyric

 

“Miss You” – Beanrunner Café
(Early April, 2016)

“Miss You” – Lafayette Theatre
(July 30, 2016)

Miss You by Grace VanderWaal

[Verse 1]
Hey, there’s something that {I think} you should know, ooh
Something that’s really important to me
You know we|’re| used to hang|ing| out whether it was sun, rain, or snow, ooh
Talkin’ to you used to be a breeze
Can someone please tell me where to find you?
’Cause sometimes I miss that smile {upon} (on) your face
And some people say that it’s part of gettin’ older, but
I don’t think that’s true
(And some people say one day I’ll get over you, but
They just don’t know you, ohh
So you can be you, I can be me, as long as my heart is beating)

[Chorus]
I still miss you

[Verse 2]
Hey, so I guess you just thought to let it be
Thought everything was overrated
But please, may I just ask why you think they are better than me
I guess the fun just has kinda faded

{ Café
So tell me, will I ever see you again?
’Cause sometimes I miss hanging around your place
And some people say that it’s all for the better, but
I don’t think that’s true
[Chorus]
I still miss you, ooh yeah
You oohh

[Outro]
Hey, so there’s something that I think you should know, ooh
Something that’s really important to me
}

( Lafayette:
And some people say that it’s part of getting older, but
I don’t think that’s true
And some people say one day I’ll get over you, but
they just don’t know you, ohh
So you can be you, I can be me, as long as my heart is beating

[Chorus]
I still miss you
)

The first thing to note reading these lyrics is that this is a personal song. Grace’s isn’t singing about the trials and tribulations of one of her fictional characters, but about her own feelings. So let’s break the lyrics down and see if we can’t glean a little more insight into Grace’s admitted difficulties with past friendships:

Hey, there’s something that {I think} you should know, ooh
Something that’s really important to me

Two phrases in and we’ve already learned that, though we know neither what’s at issue nor who the issue is with, it weighs heavily on Grace’s heart. The phrase, ‘really important to me’, can’t be read any other way.

You know we|’re| used to hang|ing| out whether it was sun, rain, or snow, ooh
Talkin’ to you used to be a breeze

First thing to note here is the word ‘hang’, because there’s a ghost of an ‘ing’ hanging there (ah yes, puns) in both recordings. But ‘hanging’ would only be proper English if ‘we’ became ‘we’re’, though it doesn’t seem to be there in either recording, hence the ‘disputed lyric’ designation. Oh, and the ‘it was’ would have to become an ‘it is’ to be truly proper, and that wording it most definitely is not. As to the meaning, we now know that the subject (you) ‘used’ to be a close friend. Also note the clever use of breeze, since it not only speaks of the ease she had conversing with this friend, but plays on the word’s weather-related meaning to tie it into ‘sun, rain, or snow’. Yeah. A twelve year old did that.

Can someone please tell me where to find you?

This is an intentionally ambiguous sentence. Imagine walking into a crowd of people and yelling, “Hey, can someone here tell me where I can find you!?” The first thing I would think at hearing that is, “Who the heck is Yu? Is it someone I know?” So now we learn another thing: this is a plea from the heart. Almost a prayer to restore a lost friendship. She’s not able to even speak to her missing friend, and yet the sting of this lost relationship requires her to voice her plea, even though it will remain unheard by it’s intended recipient.

’Cause sometimes I miss that smile {upon} (on) your face

This is sentimentality, pure and simple. It almost makes a person want to cry.

And some people say that it’s part of gettin’ older, but
I don’t think that’s true

Now it becomes unmistakable that the plaintive cry is coming from a child (which we already knew), but that parents, grandparents, or older siblings have told her a possible untruth to get her over her feelings of loss. And she’d be right. Many children may feel that their elders tell them lies to get them past emotional difficulties, but how many are willing to say back to them, “That’s a lie!” Grace is willing, but does it in the nicest way possible.

( Lafayette:
And some people say one day I’ll get over you, but
They just don’t know you, ohh

These lines were sung at her Lafayette concert, and add to the previous thoughts. Another lie, she feels, because she can’t imagine ever forgetting about her friend. And if these elders knew her friend as she does, they’d know there’s no getting over it. Shame on them for even suggesting it.

So you can be you, I can be me, as long as my heart is beating )

Wow. She’s literally pleading here, “Please, my friend, come back! I won’t ask you to change who you are, please don’t ask me to be different either.” But note that this lyrical phrase is incomplete until it falls into the following chorus, ‘I still miss you’, telling us that as long as she lives, she’ll remain longing for their friendship.

[Chorus]
I still miss you

Nothing to say here, because it can’t be said any more eloquently.

[Verse 2]
Hey, so I guess you just thought to let it be
Thought everything was overrated

In this verse, Grace seems to be resorting to a bit of a rebuking tone. Maybe she’s feeling betrayed at this point. I’m reading some between the lines here, but the phrase ‘. . . to let it be’ seems to harken to some past problem. A quarrel perhaps? And the word ‘overrated’. Maybe her friend didn’t think as highly of their friendship as Grace did.

But please, may I just ask why you think they are better than me
I guess the fun just has kinda faded

Ah ha! It is betrayal. Her friend abandoned Grace for a new clique. And that had to sting badly. Now we get an admission, but one that’s probably hard to make: the fun they had together as children faded as they grew towards their teens.

{ Cafe:
So tell me, will I ever see you again?
’Cause sometimes I miss hanging around your place

More plaintive cries, this time mixed with nostalgia for what may never be again.
And some people say that it’s all for the better, but
I don’t think that’s true

A new lie from her elders, still attempting to get her to just move on. Maybe she will be better off forgetting her friend, but she’s not willing to go there yet.

[Chorus]
I still miss you, ooh yeah
You oohh

Nothing more be said here.

[Outro]
Hey, so there’s something that I think you should know, ooh
Something that’s really important to me
}

This outro, a near repeat of the first lines, just beautifully ends this song. It’s as if to tell us that no matter what has been said, restoring her friendship is what’s really on her heart.

( Lafayette:
And some people say that it’s part of getting older, but
I don’t think that’s true

This is just a repeat from the first verse, carrying the same meaning.

And some people say one day I’ll get over you, but
they just don’t know you, ohh
So you can be you, I can be me, as long as my heart is beating

Same for these lines, ending with her declaration that her friendship is offered unconditionally, for ever.

[Chorus]
I still miss you)

The Lafayette concert version didn’t have the final outro, but still ended positively.

To say that this is one of those songs that speaks from the singer’s heart is an understatement. We know from interviews that Grace suffered terribly during her days at school, and friendship betrayals, which can be common among schoolchildren, must have been especially hard on someone as sensitive as her. This song just brilliantly captures those feelings.

I know I didn’t speak at all of the musicality of Miss You, but I will at least say here that Grace’s ukulele playing was about perfect. It shows that you don’t need much, just a few chords on four strings: it ain’t what you know, it’s what you do with what you do know.

This article was first posted on VanderVault’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XydnaaaaSnE&lc=UgzcyhqWyuqgovU6fj14AaABAg