Hey Jude by The Beatles. Rhiannon by Fleetwood Mac. Mrs. Robinson by Simon & Garfunkel. Billie Jean by Michael Jackson.
These are just four of many, many songs over decades of music that name people, fictional or real, in the title. Singers have been doing this for ages, sometimes erasing the mystery for the listener of who the song could be about.
I wrote once that music gives artists the opportunity to be vulnerable. Most songs are written from real life experience (well, the good ones are). Whether they are about pain or happiness, losing yourself or finding yourself, the songs come from a place deep within the writer where the thoughts and feelings they are most terrified to speak about are stored. Instead, they sing them. Attaching a real name to an already emotionally vulnerable song has to be one of the most daring moves an artist can make. There could be many reasons for including the name. To create a character, to make that character easy to connect to, to point fingers or call out someone who hurt you. In Paige Hargrove’s case, I think she wrote “Leo” to communicate feelings she wish she got the chance to say before her relationship was over.
Paige Hargrove is an indie singer/songwriter from Chicago, IL. She began playing guitar in the middle of high school. She got her start doing covers on YouTube, like many artists do today. It wasn’t until college that she began writing her own music. Even after that, it took her years to start playing live because of a bad case of stage fright. Her musical influences go from Paramore to Noah Gundersen, but she has managed to still make her aesthetic unique and all her own.
The song “Leo” is off her newest album, Georgia, which is her first full length album she’s ever released. The name of the album comes from her having two homes. While she was born and raised in Chicago, she moved to Georgia in 2015 for a short time. She feels that both locations have influenced her, especially because of the two very different musical scenes. Georgia was recorded in her tiny apartment in Decatur, GA. When speaking to Songfinch, Hargrove said in the making of her last EP, she was so focused on perfection that the authenticity of music got lost and didn’t nearly match the sound of her live performances. It wasn’t until she had a discussion with a friend about this that the idea of recording live tracks came along. She said, “I loved how it sounded and felt, so we went with it. There’s a lot of imperfections in it, you can hear my floor creaking, you can hear the cicadas outside, some vocals or guitar imperfections, but it sounded real to me”. The songs on the album were inspired by her own homesickness and heartbreak, and the self discovery that came from these two emotions. When speaking about “Leo” specifically, Hargrove said “The whole song is about seeing something as perfect, but something happening and you just can’t look at the situation or thing the same way”.
The song begins with the fingerpicking of an acoustic guitar. When Hargrove begins singing, you’re taken aback by how bright and dominant her voice is. She takes utter control of the song. You can tell immediately that this was recorded live due to the sounds bouncing and echoing off the walls as if they’re performing in a room with good acoustics. She throws some electric guitar and piano in there for small moments within the first verse.
What you’ll notice instantly is her ability to make her voice so delicate and small at times, and so big and vibrant at others. Her range is amazing. After the first chorus, there’s the acoustic, the electric, the piano, and drums. The song is full and even more dynamic. At the end of the song, the music gets stripped back down to just the guitar and her voice again, making the slight lyrical twist of her hook even more melancholy.
What is love to you?
I used to know it well like the back of my hand.
Clearly you don’t seem familiar.
Could somebody shed a light so I could shed off this old skin?
Everyone has a different definition of love and she feels like she used to know his. She had it memorized. But something has changed, like he isn’t the same person anymore. He is unfamiliar with that love. She hopes someone will give her answers so she can finally let go of the past.
What am I to say
when the pages torn in the water left the ink to bleed?
Had it all written out – swear to god I had it all figured out,
but I guess what I have and I want isn’t up to me.
The pages of their story together have been ripped out and thrown in water. The ink, the words, all the moments and memories are bleeding away. She thought their story was set in stone. She thought she was sure and comfortable but it seems what she is left with is not up to her, but up to him now.
Is it too late to tell you it’s too early to let it go, Leo?
We stood together but now we stand alone
and as the sky is falling, you’re running out on your own, Leo, Leo, Leo,
I can never see you again the way I used to.
She doesn’t want to let go of what they have, but she doesn’t know if saying it now will save it or make things better. They are no longer together. It feels like her world is crashing down while he is flying solo. Her whole entire perception of him has changed.
So what is love to you?
I used to know it well like the strings on this guitar.
You played me a song, but I don’t seem to know the melody anymore.
She feels like she no longer knows him. He was like a song she knew by heart, but now she doesn’t remember the words. She feels blindsided and confused.
Don’t you say you were done years ago,
’cause I can’t take that.
Don’t you say, you and I
found the cold cause I fed that fire til I was done in.
She doesn’t want to hear his excuses. She doesn’t want to hear that he’s been gone in the relationship for a while. She doesn’t want to hear that their spark fizzled out because she’s been putting effort in and loving him endlessly.
Hold you high in my eyes til you left me hung out to dry.
Is it too late to tell you it’s too early to let it go?
Now I’m fighting for all I’ve ever known,
’cause sometimes the love we have ain’t the love we’ve always known
She used to regard him highly, thought he was the best she could get, the knight in shining armor. This regard vanished once he left her without a clue as to what went wrong. Even though he is letting go, she is still fighting for him. They were once great, so they could be great again.
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