Lessons From Frank Ocean: Lyrics Like Water

Published On April 24, 2012

Frank Ocean is of the most promising musicians to have gained popularity in the past 3 years of rising stars.  But unlike many of his counterparts, he’s gained a large following mostly due to his unique sound and creative lyrics; literally resurrecting and redefining a genre one song at a time.  Not only does he speak from a perspective reminiscent of the greats–with a bit of Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, and Curtis Mayfield sprinkled in between–he also adds a large portion of elements from several different genres such as country, folk, and rock influences.

Every music fan have songs like these.  I call them “lyrics like water.”  Songs that evoke memories or a moment of euphoria every time they hear it.  Words in songs that become necessary to one’s growth as water is necessary to one’s health. Songs that are hard to live without… Frank’s only been on the scene for a few years with limited material, but still, he has a great list.  Here’s a few of my favorite lyrics like water from Ocean:

Who knows, maybe I’m crazy, that’s one big maybe
But even a fool knows when it’s gold, gold, gold
I know pyrite from 24 karat, yeah
Cubic’s from genuine diamond, yeah
A call from the woman who loves you and hello from a friend
I know when it’s real, I know how to tell
I know the difference between what you say and how you feel
Oh, oh I know when it’s real

—Pyrite’s (Fool’s Gold)

Frank’s use of fool’s gold as a metaphor for the fraud love a woman interest is providing him makes this song a creative tale of a fool in love; sometimes you have to realize the love you find solace in may not be of the same caliber they find in you. Move along, move along, like you know they do.

News said that the sky is falling; The globe is warmin’
My country’s warring; The leaders are lying
Time is running lower and lower babe lower babe
I know we just met
But baby could you love me quickly, quickly
I want you to love me like ya know the worlds about to end
End baby, quickly

—Quickly

You’ll come to see that Ocean has a good number of songs that speak about the future and time.  But his message is nearly always the same: live in love and let time take its coarse.  This is a perfect song for finding a mistletoe on Christmas or sneaking that crawling kiss on New Years Eve.

No wonder why there’s no mirrors on these walls no more
You can’t tell me why you’re so terrified of beautiful
Scared of the good more than the evil
Scared of the light more than the dark
Scared of the truth so much more than the lie
I’m scared for you
I’m scared of you
—Scared of Beautiful

Never be afraid to show your true self.  Understand that we all have good and bad in ourselves, you just have to learn to deal with all of it in the light. Evolution is all about changing and growing amidst your peers and love ones, in honesty. The beauty is the truth.

If a tree fell in the forest
And no one was around to hear it
Baby, does it go boom?
Does it go boom?
If I have love for ya
But you were never close enough to feel it
Is my love any good?
Is my love any good?

—Bricks and Steel

This is like a modern day Brown Stone’s “If You Love Me,” this should basically sum it up: “If you love me, say it. If you trust me, do it. If you want me, show it. If you need me, prove it.”  Nothing wrong with channeling one of the greatest r&b songs of all time.  Ocean is making his point in an uncanny way: if you love someone, but they’re never around to feel it, how long can the love last? You have to work and show your appreciation to all things in life, from family and relationships to business and careers.  Otherwise, the love grows stale and disappears.

say hello, then say farewell
to the places you know
we are all mortals aren’t we
any moment this could go
cry cry cry
even though that won’t change a thing
but you should know, you should hear
that i have loved
i have loved the good times here
and i will miss
our good times here
—Strawberry Swing

Don’t let the inevitable break you apart. Live for the moment and cherish the past.  Just as people go, time flows.  Nothing last forever, so take it as it is and enjoy it as long as you can. Life with no regrets.

i believe that marriage isn’t between a man & woman 
but between love and love
and i believe you when you say that you’ve lost all faith
but you must believe in something
you gotta believe in somethingi still believe in man
a wise one asked me why
cause i just don’t believe we’re wicked
i know that we sin but i do believe we try
—We All Try

There’s many meanings you can assume from this song, the most obvious being the message to be yourself, and don’t be afraid of the pitfalls in life.  We all make it through our rough times on different terms, and to do so, you have to have faith in something; whether it’s yourself, God, your ambitions, your hopes, etc.  You have to have faith in something to make it in this world.  Just believe in something, or else you’ll fall for anything.

Professor Ocean is still on the job.  Have you heard his new single performed at Coachella?  Did I mention one of your favorite Ocean songs?  Let us know what you think below!

“Untitled”

“American Wedding”

 

 

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