I have absolutely no idea what compelled me to listen to this song today, but I decided to turn on “Tell Him” by Lauryn Hill and keep it on repeat, thus making it #PhillipsSongOfTheDay.
The guitar melody that floats in the background of this song is what really makes this song. Sure, Lauryn Hill’s vocals are soulful and capture the listener’s attention, but I think the guitar adds a soothing wholeness to the song. This song, for me, is a healing song, one you should listen to after some personal turmoil such as heartbreak. Take a listen, pay attention to that acoustic guitar goodness (starts around 0:19):
I first read through the lyrics of “Tell Him” before I actually listened to the song, and I expected it to be a rather depressing song. Lyrics “Tell him I need him/ Tell him I love him,” would suggest the narrator is missing her significant other; I’m assuming she broke up with him and realized that she wants him back. However, when I actually listened to Ms. Hill’s performance, I was delightfully surprised by the mellow, soulful vibe of the song. I think of music and its emotions in terms of the weather, and this song is like the sun setting during the warm dusk after a beautiful summer day, unlike the dark, cold winter’s day I envisioned the song to be; there is a warmer glow in this song than I anticipated.
That’s the majesty of music. I think music is the best medium of telling a story because it provides three dimensions: the written lyrics, the vocal performance of the lyrics which transcend how the words should be taken (e.g. it’s easier to pick up on sarcasm when it is spoken/sung rather than it being written), and the music provides context to those lyrics and vocal performance. For instance, for “Tell Him,” I read the lyrics to be dark and cold. But then you add Lauryn Hill’s vocal delivery, and you get a more laid back, not so aggressive story. Then you take into the drum beat and the soaring guitar melody and you get that golden sunset previous mentioned. This just emphasizes that you shouldn’t go reading too much into a song until you sit back, relax, and listen.