Sunday, May 22, 2016

"We run things, things don't run we"

Yesterday was Porchfest, an annual event where local musicians perform on their porches all around Somerville, MA. My friend Stefan Anderson, who performs as the solo act The Stefan Banderson, played his cover of Miley Cyrus's "We Can't Stop," which is my favorite cover of all time. (Summer 2013 I heard him perform the cover before I heard the actual song.)

Something I like about Stefan's covers is how they highlight the absurdity of pop song lyrics. During this performance I became obsessed with the line "We run things, things don't run we." After I spent far longer thinking about this line than a serious adult should, I had the following enlightening email exchange with the friends I went to Porchfest with.

This is another post in the series where I experiment with publishing emails the way RMO does. This post is about not being able to stop. It is also about what happens when science PhDs close-read Miley lyrics.

(While we're on the topic of Porchfest I'd also like to plug my friend Christiana's band Paper Waves. Check them out--they're great!)


from:Jean Yang
to:Alison Hill,
Elizabeth Brown,
Ali Rabi
date:Sun, May 22, 2016 at 10:46 AM
subject:We run things, things don't run we

Guys I looked this up and this is a real lyric of the song. I really like it. I think I'll make it my new life motto.


from:Elizabeth Brown
to:Jean Yang
cc:Alison Hill,
Ali Rabi
date:Sun, May 22, 2016 at 11:05 AM
subject:Re: We run things, things don't run we

Oh my god that is wonderful. It makes a great motto!


from:Alison Hill
to:Elizabeth Brown
cc:Jean Yang,
Ali Rabi
date:Sun, May 22, 2016 at 12:55 PM

the final "we" of the third line also serves as the subject of the fourth line .. optionally .. or you could interpret the lines separately, and then the last one is not a statement but an imperative

but all this just makes me like it even more!


from:Jean Yang
to:Alison Hill
cc:Elizabeth Brown,
Ali Rabi
date:Sun, May 22, 2016 at 3:18 PM

Yeah, one can also interpret as a fight to control the forces that control us.

I read this article about how "We Can't Stop" is actually a sad song:

This particular stanza is particularly interesting as a commentary on the power you give up when you enter into a super glam life--whether it's partying or academia. You act like you run the show but you've already bought in to something much bigger and you "can't stop." "Don't take nothing from nobody" and maybe you can escape the greater forces.



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