I thought of more frequently writing about songs just because… I like them. Even if there is no special meaning or so, just sharing the songs I love. But then, every song has a meaning, and in addition most songs I love have a very specific personal meaning to me. So both the real meaning and my own interpretation together resulted in the idea of creating a series of song portraits called "Every Song has a story to tell". Sometimes my own "meaning" will correspond with the real meaning of the song, sometimes it will be totally different.
I start off with Birdy. If you listen to a song over and over again for more than 5 hours while reading, then it must indicate this song is special.
And indeed the song is special, especially when knowing it was co-written and co-composed by Birdy herself, who is only 17 years of age at the time I am writing this. A 17 year old able to write such an emotional song, is a rare talent. It is almost unbelievable that someone of such young age could do that.
Birdy, who took her stage name from the fact her parents always called her like that as a baby due to the way she opened her mouth for eating, is a British singer-songwriter of Belgian and Dutch roots. She herself was born and raised in England but her real name, Jasmine van den Bogaerde, indicates Belgian and Dutch origins.
She was born in 1996 in England in a very musical family. Her mother was a concert pianist, and Birdy adopted the love for the piano, learning to play at age 7 and already writing own songs aged 8. The true story of Jasmine’s musical career started at age 12 however when she entered Open Mic UK in 2008, a talent contest for unsigned singers and bands. She entered with her own song "So be free" and won the first prize in both the under-18 category and the overall category.
Early 2011, aged 14, Birdy covered Bon Iver’s song "Skinny Love" which resulted in mass success in the charts, even reaching nr 1 in several countries. Later that year, Birdy released her debut album, the self-titled "Birdy" which contained only cover songs except for 1 track which was an original. It reached nr 1 in Belgium, The Netherlands and as far as Australia, where her singles also reached very high in the singles charts.
Now, aged 17, the follow-up "Fire within" is doing very fine as well. This album is a drastic turn away from the very acoustic piano-driven fragile debut album. While the piano still plays a very important role, some other instruments were added (Birdy even learnt to play the guitar for this album) which leaves some songs with a more bombastic impression, as if the sound gradually becomes stronger and reaches its peak when the other instruments come in. But equally important: instead of the covers she did when she released her first record, this time Birdy co-wrote all songs on the album, a rare fact for someone of such tender age. It just gets more remarkable when hearing the songs and realise how beautiful it sounds.
The first single from the album, "Wings", was a true revelation to me. I was instantly grabbed by the piano driven stanzas and Birdy’s fragile yet beautiful voice, then to have an almost celebrating more up-tempo chorus in which the other instruments come into play. The sound of the song is warm, the lyrics heartwarming and beautiful. The song immediately grasped me and I could not stop listening to it. Even including one day where I played it 30 or 40 times in a row. This was the type of song justifying buying the CD for (luckily there are more gems on her album)
"Wings" describes remembering past events ranging from dancing on top of cars or waking up with the sunlight coming in, just because she thought of the person she was with.
The video also demonstrates this: a big nocturnal mansion party is shown where people dressed in weird costumes walk around, people have fun, Birdy is shown on a swing while glowing lights now and then illuminate the nightly sky. Birdy stated it is about having a great time with friends, the kind of time that you know you’ll never ever forget it.
To me the song has a more romantic edge. I do not see a wild mansion party in front of me with lots of people dancing, I see a couple in front of me that are alone at night somewhere in the fields, under a star-filled sky, dancing to this beautifully romantic music. When Birdy sings about how thinking of "you" reminds her or all those things that occured, it sounds to me as two lovers looking back on how their life together has been so far.
However, when we take things to the chorus, this is where it truly gets emotional to me. The song just reflects in an eeriely perfect way my idea of the ideal romantic night with my future lover. How can someone not feel butterflies in the stomach and get a warm feeling inside, dreaming about that one true love, when listening to lines such as
"Lights go down
In the moment we’re lost and found
I just wanna be by your side
If these wings could fly…"
The chorus completes with the other person telling her he’ll remember that night forever.
This is how I picture the perfect romantic night, the type of night where all good things suddenly come together, you’re alone with your lover and the rest of the world feels like it doesn’t even exist. All that matters would be me and her. A simple line like "we’re lost and found… I just wanna be by your side" reflects the equally simple yet very powerful feeling of just wanting to be with that person you love, and feel a waterfall of happiness and joy simply by being with her. As if the rest of the world doesn’t matter, doesn’t even exist, and you simply dance in the field at night, fall in each others’ arms, and feel an emotion of total happiness. With nobody to be around to disrupt this moment. It’s just two lovers, so happy they are together, just the two of them in a night when all nice things just happen to come together.
That warm feeling of love is almost illuminating the sky, which is the idea I get when seeing the lights lightning up the dark skies in the video. As if the mutual love literally illuminates the dark skies, as if the love warms the air in the midst of the night. That is the feeling I get when listening to that chorus while watching the video of the song.
To me it is simply a representation of the feeling of total happiness by just being together, and knowing you will never forget that night and never forget that blissful feeling; while having the desire to make that relationship last a lifetime.
Love songs are often cliche, and in a way this song in its true interpretation is about friendship more than it is about love. But I hope Birdy will forgive me for giving the song a bit of an own angle.
This is the perfect song to play on the background while holding each other in each others’ arms and sharing a tender kiss. This song is the ideal soundtrack when you first kiss your (new) partner — as far as such thing can be planned. It would even make a perfect opening dance for those who would choose to get married.
Fantastic efford, and her young age only makes it more remarkable. Now Birdy isn’t all about happy love or friendship, just give "All you never say" a listen, which is about the other person never saying the few words she is hoping to hear (that he loves her). But meanwhile Birdy perfectly reflects the simple desire and hope to be with someone: "Words with no meaning have kept me dreaming" while not losing sight of reality as the words in the end tell her nothing about where she stands.
I wish to heavily recommend this exceptional talent. If you can create such songs when you’re just 17, then you just know you discovered a very rare musical talent that puts 80 to 90% of the folks in the charts to shame. Forget the charts, and surrender to the beautiful music of Birdy!