Follow My Feet by The Unlikely Candidates

Track: Follow My Feet
Artist: The Unlikely Candidates
Genre: alternative, indie, rock
Music Rating: 10/10
Lyrics Rating: 10/10
Overall: 10/10
Sounds Like: Bad Suns, Brendon Urie, The Mowgli’s, Vinyl Theatre
Interesting Fact: This song is actually a few years old, but I only just discovered it when TUC came out with a new EP this year! (Protips: when you discover a cool band, always explore their backlog.)
Best thing about this track: I can’t really break this one down and point out the one thing that makes this song incredible, because the beauty lies in the whole of its identity. If I have to break apart specifics though, the technical structure and parallelism combine flawlessly with the lyrical existential musings. Wait, wait, wait! I lied. The best thing about this track is the wacky piano that absolutely loses its mind during the bridge and final chorus. (Listen to the treble half of the mix starting around 2:05)
One thing I wish was different: Do not ask me to blaspheme against such beauty. Shame on you!
Website: The Unlikely Candidates

I believe that one of the true hallmarks of intellectual art (in any medium) is that it respects its audience and refuses to believe itself superior. A masterpiece will not hold your hand and delineate its conclusion garishly; good art knows how to resolve itself while leaving the mind room to solve itself and leading patrons comfortably along the intended trajectory. Art is a journey, not a destination.

I share the same respect for my readers, so please forgive any lack of finality or tentative ambiguity in this piece. My path will not be yours, but we can still talk of our journeys together and learn somewhat from each other’s views.

Okay. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get literary!

I’ll take the easy shot first and begin with the most blatant (and recent) literary parallel, and we shall work our way backwards from there. Robert Frost. Anyone who has been subjected to the modern education system will know of the two roads which diverged in a yellow wood.

A short and relatively simple poem that has drawn the attention of any serious scholar of the English tongue, and yet, this studious fascination vexed its own author, as he had not intended it to be taken quite so weightily in regards to individual identity and decision-making. (There is a certain level of irony here, in the mass-attributing of an erroneous interpretation which celebrates unique thought, that I find quite hilarious, but I digress.) What then, is the draw? Why was and is there the universal tendency to implicate the scene so, and imbue it with such existential substance?

Going back a ways into popular historical literacy, we can find a similar setting in the classic Scottish poem/folk song, “Loch Lochmond”. Most people today are still familiar with the refrain:

“O ye’ll take the high road, and I’ll take the low road,
And I’ll be in Scotland a’fore ye,”

Painting a similar scene, this time colored with shades of a political tale, one may begin to wonder the original genesis of the familiar metaphor contemplating crossroads and contrasting choices. Where do we connect with morality? We’ll go back even further — about 2,000 years — to one of the older and most famous sources of literature: the Bible.

I’m not going to get religious or discuss beliefs here, but when the lyrics introduce us to “The Devil” in the first verse, the Bible seems to be fair game as a literary allusion. In fact, one could argue that it would be reckless and irresponsible to forego mentioning it as an obvious point of reference, regardless of interpretation or beliefs.

“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”

That sounds familiar. Before I accidentally wander into the dangerous territory of interpreting (or sharing a possible interpretation of) religious texts, let’s transition now, pivoting slightly away from literature, and turn our minds towards philosophy and human psychology.

The beginning of the song jumps straight into nihilism, and begins to wrestle with the verity of human identity and the power of human will (or lack thereof) to change the reality of fate in the face of moral ambiguity. Eventually, the song leads to an optimistic take on nihilism, placing the importance on individual humanity and agency rather than the macrocosm of morality.

It also seems to make an interesting assertion that though choice is vitally formative, a part of our identity is housed innately within us already, guiding those decisions if we bother to listen — a certain inherent sense of groundedness (here, poetically portrayed by our feet). Freud used a slightly different illustration of the concept, explaining the interplay between what we have learned to call the id, the ego, and the superego.

This song, then, becomes the ego’s theme and voice. Though it is unclear if the “friends” spoken of throughout the lyrics are actual externalizations, they could easily be personifications of the internal parts of the psyche. The id is constantly pulling towards the “low road” of instant gratification, while the superego longs to take the “high road” and remain morally superior. It is the job of the ego to mediate the two and reconcile the pull of the opposing pathways to keep the overall mind centered, grounded, and on balance. The ego keeps both extremes in check and helps to remain true to the actual identity of self rather than worrying about the bigger picture of animalistic tendencies or societal constructs of what we ought to be.

With the devil standing pointedly at the left side of the crossroads, and the album artwork’s visual appearance being what it is, I can’t help but take this concept of the human psyche somatically into the hemispheres of the brain. Action and inaction. If each choice ultimately leads to the same conclusion, what then, is the point of deciding? What is the point of being?

Then again, while the first verse points out opposite actions leading to the same results, the second and third verses arguably explore identical reasonings leading to opposite actions. We’ve then come full circle and realize that there is something universal in each path we take. Ultimately, although we cannot dictate the outcome of whichever course we take, our differences give us commonality, and our similarities make a difference.

As promised, I’ll not draw conclusions for you, but before we part ways, allow me to once more point out the brilliance of some of the more technically constructed parallels. I am left in awe and enraptured by the profound simplicity that encompasses such complex ideals of human existence and identity.

 

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Lyrics:

There’s a fork in the road in front of me,
At the crossroads of identity.
The Devil is standing to the left.
He says “Either way, they both lead to death.”

And the high road’s steady and steep,
And the low road’s easy and deep.
Guess I’ll follow, follow, follow my feet.
Guess I’ll follow, follow, follow my feet.

I’ve a friend who lies and steals and cheats.
Always taking more than he can eat.
He says “To get what I want, I would probably kill.
If I don’t take it, somebody else will.”

And the high road’s steady and steep,
And the low road’s easy and deep.
Guess I’ll follow, follow, follow my feet.
Guess I’ll follow, follow, follow my feet.

There is no time,
Falling behind,
Plant harmony,
Or burn the tree.

I have a friend who loves humanity,
Braves bullets in war-torn countries.
He traded a life of wealth to help the poor and ill.
He says “If I don’t do it, nobody will.”

And the high road’s steady and steep,
And the low road’s easy and deep.
Guess I’ll follow, follow, follow my feet.
Guess I’ll follow, follow, follow my feet.

I don’t know where,
I don’t know where,
Where my path will lead,
But I’ll follow my feet and hopefully
They’ll keep me on the ground,
And I’ll keep walking to the sound

Follow, follow, follow your feet.
Follow, follow, follow your feet.

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