The Message In The Song (Part 2)

There’s always a message in the song, and as John Sebastian sang, there’s magic in the music.  I’ve been struggling to understand Sarah in particular all season, and the music is the one thing that can keep me on track.  Jem, aka Faith and ChuckNewbie8, knows this better than anybody, and expresses it better than I!

Once again, a guest post from Jem.

– joe

When we first examined the lyrics together we came upon the realization that the “journey” will be fraught with puzzlement, darkness and “backwards walk” but we learned that we would have to “Wait it Out.” We also learned that the songs contained within it a message both for the fans (from TPTB) and for the characters, one that often more real and more meaningful than what is seen at first glance. That was during the dog-days of the Mask. It seems so far removed from where we are now, and not just because we’ve had 3 weeks of Olympic Break to contend with but because 5 episodes later we’re at an entirely different place.

I said back then that it would be beyond interesting what music TPTB will come up with to enhance the story in the coming weeks (after the first seven episodes) and they didn’t disappoint. We can argue and discuss all other aspects of the story: plot points, expressions, even props but one true thing remains: Chuck’s songs give the viewers something more. More than just a lyric, more than just a tune, but an understanding. Today I’ll examine 3 more songs that came about in the last few episodes that do as good a job of conveying the emotion of the scene/event as Sarah Walker’s famous emotive facial expressions. And maybe as we scrutinize them together we’ll find our way through the maze and see a future, one we can all look forward to.

Swim Until You Can’t See Land, by Frightened Rabbit. This song was playing during a fountain scene. Fountain scenes are sacred here in ChuckThis, they come with it, its own significance (at least in our POVs) and this was no different. Just examine the lyrics:

Dip the toe in the ocean. Oh how it hardens and it numbs.
The rest of me is a version of man, built to collapse into crumbs.
And if I hadn’t come down to the coast to disappear
I may have died in a land-slide of the rocks, the hopes and fears.

So swim until you can’t see land.
Swim until you can’t see land.

I’ll set the scene: Ellie is talking to Chuck, about choices, about life, about love.
Ellie: “I know, I know. But dreams change. And if there’s one thing I know is I want to be with Devon. It may require some sacrifice for us but one thing I know, he’s the best decision I’ve ever made”

Message sent, message received. “The rest is a version of man, built to collapse into crumbs” That was Chuck, not that long ago. Already knowing and feeling he’s lost Sarah, and unable to flash just an episode ago, the job became secondary but life and love frontmost. So Ellie talking about choices and Devon, just added to the question: what will Chuck choose? Will he “swim, until you can’t see land”?

I found these lines most notable:

Up to my knees now, do I wait? Do I dive?
The sea has seen my like before though it’s my first and perhaps last time.

Casey: “I made my decision between love and love of country a long time ago. And it was the right decision for me. You have to make a decision whether that’s the right one for you. Walker’s a good woman.”

So if Ellie’s speech wasn’t enough, Casey added to it. Time’s running out for Chuck, the end scene is Sarah in a taxi-cab in DC, “I’m thinking of moving here” so Chuck, swim until you can’t see land. “Do I wait, do I dive…perhaps last time.”

For the fans, well just like Pink Slip’s wait it out, this is a message, a message that Chuck and this arc hasn’t been the most enjoyable. In fact it felt kind of like drowning so it’s fitting. It’s been a very long spell of angst and distaste (for some), and there are those that can’t see land but yet they’re telling us to swim. That we have to keep swimming. A variation on keep the faith perhaps?

Next comes, In My Sleep by Austin Hartley-Leonard & Kendall Jane Meade. Unlike most songs this song wasn’t in Chuck’s POV, but rather Sarah’s. Although I suppose it’s interchangeable like all of them.

I know you were never mine to keep
But I know that I’ll see you in my sleep
But time has been unkind
and kept me far from you
But I know you will be holding me
In my sleep
I’ve been hanging on
scraping by all my life
And I know you will be holding me
In my sleep

This song is a message of goodbye. A goodbye from Sarah to the old Chuck. She said it herself: “but then you’ll be Chuck and there’s nothing wrong with that…the decision is yours Chuck but please know that there is no turning back.” Believing that he’s all but fully left his past behind, including her…her only comfort is “I know you will be holding me in my sleep.” Interesting side-note she turns to look at him one last time to the tune of, “I know I’ll see you in my sleep.” Powerful words and a powerful song for a powerful message.

The fans are left to interpret this message what they may. To me it’s a goodbye to the rock-bottom depth of darkness; granted we weren’t exactly angst free in the coming epis, but it was, they were at least paired with some good. Some fun, some believability. Masks, and all that, a thing of the past. I’ll only see it in my nightmares 😉

The last song in this very long (ha) review is Down River by The Temper Trap. I’ve already kind of delved into the significance of its lyrics and message a little bit in my posts but I’ll expand. When the season was just beginning we were given a message with Imogene Heap’s Wait it Out. With that message we were given devastation, pain, anguish but urged to stick around and be patient. Fast forward to American Hero’s Down River and the message coincides. Except this one came with it joy:

We have seen some things
Some awfully nice
Some dreadfully bad
But we will sing
Wash the blood, off our knees
Cause our love breaks
Through ruff seas, our ship will sail it…

(Walk these stairs
Put, the pieces, back together)
Go, don’t stop
Go, don’t stop
Go, don’t stop
Go don’t stop
Now go..

I have to admit I had a little chuckle with “we have seen some things, some awfully nice, some DREADFULLY bad” because a better statement cannot be made about the season. Some were awfully good, some vomit-worthy bad. But “through ruff seas” our ship has sailed and the pieces “back together” —well on the mend at least—FINALLY it’s go, don’t stop. Go, don’t stop has so many meanings not the least of which is the return of the fun we’ve all been missing. The joy, the heart, the soul.

From a storyline standpoint this song contains with it an even stronger message. From Swim Until You Can’t See Land‘s: “up to my knees now, do I wait? do I dive?” to Down River‘s: “go, don’t’ stop” and “wait it out” to “finally.” Chuck has made a decision and just like Ellie has told him, “You’re a Bartowski, act like one,” “If you love her, if she’s the one then you don’t stop, you don’t quit, you never give up,” he doesn’t give up on Sarah. He puts it all on the line, bluntly and honestly:

Chuck: “I love you. One more time because it feels really nice to say…
Chuck: “I want to spend the rest of my life with you…”
Chuck: “don’t go don’t do it, leave with me instead. I don’t want to have to convince you, I just want you to show up”

Interesting side-note the song lyrics playing right after that last line? “take a chance on something.”

The scene ends with Sarah and Casey talking, decision made, she too adds to the “go, don’t stop” message except on several levels. If only Casey hadn’t stopped her, she’d probably be away from Shaw’s clutches at present time. If she’d have gone and not stopped, Chuck and Sarah would probably be in some paradise somewhere together. And finally this is it for both of them. We talk all the time about the point of no return being in Colonel, well this is definitely a point of no return. Go, don’t stop for both Chuck and Sarah.

– Jem


About Faith

Eternally faith-ful at least as it relates to my beloved Los Angeles Lakers. Yes that's where the username comes from. Other than that self-professed Chuckaholic, Laker blogger and part time internet addict. Ok, full time.
This entry was posted in Fan Base, Guest Post, Music. Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to The Message In The Song (Part 2)

  1. sd says:

    Nicely done…thanks so much for putting this together.

    I was just thinking of how the lyrics chosen for Chuck are so important to drive the story’s intent.

    And I was thinking of that as I was hitting play/repeat on Down River…what an amazing song for this part of the arc.

  2. DaveB says:

    I’m an old coot compared with the age of those this show is targeted at. One thing I can lift a pint to is that this show has helped me appreciate the music that 20-somethings listen to. There was some discussion earlier trying to imagine what music from perhaps the 70’s and 80’s could be used for an ‘alternate Chuck’, but really, the times are what they are, and the story could not have existed in the 70’s and 80’s…

  3. Chuckaddict says:

    Wow. That was AMAZING! Thank you very much for taking it to another level. Yet another reason to love this show and this group.

  4. joe says:

    I didn’t want to be the first to say it, but this was incredible, Jem. I think you single-handedly brought me out of the funk I’ve been in all week.

  5. HenryH says:

    Thanks, Faith. Down River is pretty good. It’s no Challengers or Freeze and Explode, but pretty good.

    Anyone want to speculate on what the out song is under the romance at the end of 13? You think they got something new? Go for Creature Fear redux? Come back with A Comet Appears from the end of the pilot? Something French? La Vie en Rose? Carla Bruni again?

    • Gabbo says:

      Well, I’d be happy if they went back to The Shins. A Comet Appears really has everything you want to know about Chuck (and Sarah) in it.

      But it sure will be interesting to see what they do, especially if they spring an engagement in that final scene, too…

    • JC says:

      I guess Down River takes on some new meaning after tonight.

  6. Faith says:

    Wow all that huh Joe? lol. Thanks everyone. Though I can’t take all the credit, TPTB put this out there for us to experience. Interesting side note I was scouring the twitters of TPTB a couple of days ago for my mod-duties and I came across one where JS says he went over budget on music alone for Pink Slip. Looking back part of the reason I now feel differently about that episode is the power of the music. When taken as a continuation, this and that all really go together. It’s seriously brilliant. I mean seriously. I’ve had my share of gripes over the year and more than my share if we’re gonna be honest lol, but in this one aspect, it’s brilliant. I love it.

  7. The shrink says:

    Excellent faith. You are amazing.

  8. Crumby says:

    Thanks for that! The music is amazing.
    “Down River” is great, and it’s good to have a “happy” song for once! Every time I play it, I get a smile on my face!
    But I really loved “In my sleep”, maybe because it put some insights about Sarah that we have been seriously lacking, I don’t know, but I find this song perfect. I loved the “I know I’ll miss you, I’ll always miss you” at the end, powerful interpretation.

  9. Paul says:

    I agree that Chuck does music VERY well. But it’s so subtle that often I don’t catch the lyrics until the second or third watch.

  10. Fake Empire says:

    Poignant writing! I agree: the selection of those songs is absolutely appropriate to the emotions and substance of the plot at those particular moments. Again, this is something TPTB do very well; I’ve got a massive Chuck playlist because of this.

    “Swim Until You Can’t See Land” is great and seems all about taking chances, personal risk, and the great challenges involved in the “dive.” Seriously, how many people don’t dive? Far too many to count. Whether it’s for love or some other lofty goal. I’ve seen it time and time again: people who did not “dive” and live a “settled for” life with a partner that feels sub-par, but was “safe.” IMHO, love is worth “diving” for.

    Fortunately, I’ve seen the converse too: people who were willing to “dive” and to “go, don’t stop” for the sake of loving and having each other. Most certainly, it’s scarier to go this route – to “swim” in this direction. Pursuing love is one of the most frightening things for many people – it’s very risky to put yourself in a vulnerable and unpredictable situation (umm, like swimming until you can’t see land). What I’ve seen is that for those who have taken this incredibly vulnerable and scary path, the reward has been commensurate to the risk: a deep and abiding love. A “safe” partner is good for some, but “safe” love is, sadly, filled with its own complications and often unfulfillment.

    Chuck took that risk in order to pursue Sarah, and as we saw in 3.12, Sarah is now doing the same thing. Awesome! Now, we can look forward to the depth of love that comes from a bond forged when taking on such a challenge. Will it be easy? Umm, no – a love worth having never is, but you “go, don’t stop!” I can’t wait to see it.

    BTW, “In My Sleep” is wonderfully angsty – a good one for sure. I won’t ramble on about that one. Your analysis on all of these songs was top-notch . . . a good read.

    Happy Easter, Jem – and to your loved ones.

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  12. kg says:

    Brilliant work.

    My favorites from the first two seasons include That Fresh Feeling by The Eels and Christmas TV by Slow Club.

  13. JC says:

    I just noticed the song from the Bonnie Hunt show clip. OMD- If you Leave

    I have to say that’s brilliant.

    • Paul says:

      yeah good stuff. If they were going to stick with an 80’s proto-emo new wave thing they also could have used “Oh! L’Amour” by Erasure….although that song sounds too happy to have such mopey lyrics…:P

  14. BeCoolBoy says:

    Anyone think “Live Like You’re Dying” by that American Idol winner makes sense somewhere in episode 13, maybe as the decision by Chuck and Sarah unfolds.

    The lyrics are pretty good and on point…

  15. Murtaza says:

    You know wht i love Sarah and Chuck .. buh sometimes i hate sarah .. :@

    • joe says:

      Hi, Murtaza. This is a bit of an old thread! I invite you to check out the recent posts and join in the conversation.

      Most all of us are infatuated with the long-legged Valkyrie, though 🙂

  16. Pingback: Message in a Song (Part 3) | Chuck This

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