Composed of a group of Yale students, today we have the band Vern Matz. They say they bring “indie tunes for your autumn blues”. From their latest EP Bobblehead, they keep up with this aesthetic in their track “Cityscapes”.
The song starts by dropping us off in a dreamy landscape of a strummed acoustic backed by an echoey suspension of guitar and piano. Before we get lost, the singer offers a guiding hand as they start:
“For now, it’s fine
waste of our time
out where the stars forget to shine
stuck inside at noon
out where the stars forget to shine”
Upon hearing these words, I think of how a lot of us get caught up in the day in, day out of life. We waste countless hours, stuck inside due to work, weather, or whatever, looking out at a world that’s just waiting to be explored. While you have dreams of exploring the possibilities, you also have bills that need to be paid. Unfortunately, dreams aren’t a valid form of currency, so you put your head down and put the work in, quietly mumbling to yourself that one day you’ll go after those dreams.
There’s a twinkle of piano as the vocalist continues, singing:
“How far you’d fall
were you too cold?
hold your breath, it’ll all be over soon”
Just like stars that forget to shine, you can only go on for so long without chasing after dreams before something goes wrong. You start to feel depressed and empty. Without any reason to shine, you spiral out of control before falling into a full mental breakdown.
You try to console in others, but as Vern Matz points out:
“stuck inside this cage that’s built for you
stuck inside this cage that can’t fit two”
There will be people that bring joy and comfort to your life. While this is good and even healthy to have these relationships, it’s also important to remember that, at the end of the day, the only person who will truly understand and console yourself is you. You’re the only person who can feel the breath flow through your own lungs and the heart beat in your own rib cage. No one else can live this life for you.
The piano comes to the forefront now along with light percussion and a wavy guitar. There’s a bit more life and reverb to the vocalist’s voice as they go back into the refrain, spinning tales of skewed cityscapes and forgetful stars once again. And, upon the second hearing of these lyrics, I feel like there’s a second meaning.
The repetition reflects on what I imagine people struggle and learn to accept as they grow in age. Old dreams die, or need to be shelved indefinitely, and sometimes it has nothing to do with the amount of work you put in.
Things didn’t go as planned; A year or two at a job turns into five or ten. A passion of yours didn’t turn into the career that you were hoping for. You can’t pay off your loans as fast as you thought you could.
Whatever it is, you’re crushed, but you start to look at other ways you can chase after your dream. Maybe you write, make videos, or take photographs on the side. Or you start a blog. It’s not much, but you begin to realize and accept that it doesn’t matter how popular your passion may be. As long as you’re happy with your work, that’s all that matters.
Ironically, as you come to accept this, the song comes back to the simple guitar strumming before ending, plaintively reminding us that life will end as simply as it started.
All in all, this song is a solid reminder that, while many of us must work jobs that we don’t necessarily love, this doesn’t mean we can’t chase after our dreams. It just means we’ve got to be realistic and accept that they may not bring things like fame or wealth. If you do this, you’ll be happy knowing you weren’t one of the stars that forgot to shine