I am a follower, but AJR’s single told me not to be



one of the cover photos for the single I won’t

I am a relatively new listener of the band AJR. From the few songs I have heard, I have been in awe of the band’s sound and lyrics. 

Over the course of my music-listening years, I have gathered that lyrics are the most valued aspect of music; AJR certainly agrees with my statement. On July 29th, they released their single “I Won’t,” and the lyrics left me contemplating how I act in social situations.

One lyric in the song that particularly resonated with me was, “’Cause I do what you tell me to do and do it to death.” AJR is speaking to the followers out there. Followers are people who see what the majority is up to and copy that. I am most definitely a follower. I get caught up in other people’s opinions to the point that I feel as though I am doing something “wrong” if others aren’t doing it too. I am starting to break that cycle of feelings; the lyrics have wedged their way into my brain and the way I think.

I would be honored to learn how to play drums, to be the constant beat allowing familiarity in a song churning with twists and uncertainty”

That was the purpose: to make me think. AJR writes songs that are social outcries. Each song discusses a social issue or topic. This makes the songs all the more relatable for every person. I certainly related to almost every line that spewed from my phone’s speaker. Another line I associate with is, “and pretty people yell at me to follow the dance.” These comments are about popularity and how they are the people that lead while others follow—they are the ones I used to follow. Outstanding lyrics like these don’t stand alone. Of course, the great musical talents behind the lyrics assist the majesty of AJR music, and “I Won’t” is no exception. 

There are high piano notes in the background that quite literally give me chills; they add an eerie impression, and when put together, the piano and lyrics send a warning: don’t follow. There is also a guitar which brings a lighter note, and it is more stable in order to ease out the eerie piano and make the catchy rhythm the lyrics follow. Then there are the drums: reflecting the piano’s high notes, it lays a low beat allowing the guitar to hang suspended in the middle. I would be honored to learn how to play drums, to be the constant beat allowing familiarity in a song churning with twists and uncertainty. The drum and guitar partner together to conform to a normal beat, while the piano, the chimes, and the triangle pair to make a mystic-like sound that was anything but common. 

I am rather common, though, as I blast “I Won’t” in my car. “I Won’t” is the perfect song to scream-sing as I drive slowly and cautiously on my way home from basketball or work. I have done so countless times already.  All I can say is that AJR astounded me yet again. I have many more of their social anthems to find and heed. I am enticed by the prospect of listening to more of their splendid lyrics spill out of my car speakers and while cheering; I will learn a lesson along the way.