*Trigger warning* In this post I will talk about my own personal struggles with trauma. If that is triggering to you, I recommend exiting out of this page.
I have spent the past few hours digesting Billie’s new album.
So now it’s story time.
Here is why I think this album will be one of the most important and influential pieces of art to me:
Over half a year ago I was hit by a car as a pedestrian in a crosswalk. The car struck me on my left side and catapulted me into an intersection. Needless to say, that was a very traumatic moment for me and one that would define the way I lived my life and saw the world from then on.
I don’t want to get too much into the details of the accident, mostly for my sake. But just for the sake of context, I will say that the moment I was in the air between initially getting struck by the car and hitting the ground I legitimately thought I was going to die. I remember my only thought while I was being catapulted into the road was,
“This is it”.
Ever since then, I have been having a really hard time feeling things. I guess when you have a traumatizing glance of what a few seconds before thinking you’re going to die feels like, it’s hard to go back to 100% normal after that. I didn’t exactly feel myself change right away–I put on my brave face and thought I was fine. But in the long run, the trauma made me not okay.
I guess what scared me most about the accident is how quickly and unexpectedly death can come. I mean yeah, that is kinda obvious. But to really feel that and live that. To feel in five seconds like your whole life is going to be taken away. To think in your head “this is it” and be SO ready for death…and then to not actually die? It left me pretty emotionless and detached after. I felt like a walking zombie on a day to day basis.
Bottom line, I was just super detached from everything for months on months on months because of that experience.
Fast forward to the present day.
Billie Eilish recently came out with her album “WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?”
I sat with headphones in and listened closely. It wasn’t until more than half the album was through that I, for the first time since the day of the accident, actually felt a deep connection to something.
I felt her words. The music itself was ringing my heart out like a towel. I cried because I was actually feeling, and it had been so long since I had felt anything that deeply. My zombie-like feeling went away andI didn’t feel completely detached from everything anymore.
I truly connected to this piece of artwork–I felt again what it was like to be in absolute awe at an artist’s creativity. This made me fall in love with music all over again.
I feel this album brought me back to life in a way. I feel like it re-awoke my soul and opened me up so I could feel–which is the greatest gift.
The album is pretty dark itself. Maybe it was just dark enough for me to actually connect with it as I was passing through my own dark time. This album goes down as one of the most dear to my heart for this. It was a reminder that music can really heal one’s soul.
How to Interpret the Album
In an interview, Billie explains that the album is supposed to be a representation of what happens when you’re sleeping.
“For me, every song in the album there’s sleep paralysis. There’s night terrors, nightmares, lucid dreams.”
You can watch the interview here: https://www.thefader.com/2019/02/25/billie-eilish-sleep-issues-debut-album-xane-lowe
She talks about how her sleeping problems affected her life.
“It affected the way that I viewed things, and how I was talking to people, and how I was thinking. I just was different. It was because of my dreams. It was changing me as a person.”
Which is exactly how I felt about my car accident.
At first listen of the album, I thought all 14 songs were just telling a random story. After learning it is supposed to be about your dreams, it brought the album to a whole new level for me. This is because all my life I have been insanely intrigued by dreams. I am the type of person who can remember all of my dreams in full detail. I could create for you a perfect image of a dream I had months ago.
In fact, I even keep a dream journal in which for the past 4 years I have written down every single dream I’ve had. So this new way of thinking of the album brought a whole new deeper level of meaning to me as well. Not only did it connect to me because of my car accident, but also because of the interpretation of the album representing a dream.
Honestly, the album does sound like an audible representation of what my dreams are like.
What to Listen for in the Album
Most of the album does sound like it’s in some sort of dream-like state. The beginning songs are more light hearted, getting heavier and heavier as they go on. If you get nightmares, lucid dreams, sleep paralysis, or anything of the like, you can understand how the songs really do represent those occurrences.
Musically speaking, I feel like Billie’s style is pretty minimalistic, not in the sense that it is simple, but in the sense that every single audible thing is there with a great intention. There is nothing in the album that doesn’t need to be there.
The minimalistic approach really highlights when she does something absolutely breath-taking in the music. It just POPS because it’s not getting drowned out by unnecessary noise. This album is a great example of less is more, especially with her vocal harmonies, carefully placed bass-lines, and musically mature sense of when to leave space and when to just let go.
There are so so so many small (1 to 5 second) moments in the album that if you catch them, they just make your heart drop and chills run down your body. Like little secrets you only get to hear if you are fully immersed into the music.
My personal favorite is at about the 1:50 minute mark into “when the party’s over”. If you listen with good headphones, you can hear very VERY faintly in the left ear the word “over” repeated so sneakily right before the song drops back into the chorus in a ghost-like manor.
I only noticed that very small moment my 3rd listen to the whole album, which I think makes the album even more of a masterpiece. With every listen to the whole album, you pick up more and more little things that you didn’t hear before and as a result, you get chills all over as if you were listening to it again for the very first time.
Actually, I think the only way to listen to this album is from the first song to the last song in one sitting without stopping to really get the full effect. Yes, each song can stand by itself and still sound like a masterpiece. But listening to each song in order feels like walking into a whole new dimension of dream world, and that effect is incredible.
When you listen to the album as a whole, you hear a storyline of a dream. You hear the transitions of the songs and how they all connect. You go through this whole dream with Billie, which is an absolute rollercoaster of emotions. Then the last song hits, tying everything together.
To me, the last song is what makes this album a masterpiece. The last songs pulls lyrics from every song in the album before it in reverse order until you make it back to song one, as if the dream is just on loop like a reoccurring dream.
The last song also perfectly conveys what is like when you wake up and you only remember little parts of the dream you just had, represented by using just small snippets of the songs that came before. It is absolutely beautiful. This album just has so many layers and deeper meanings and interpretations that it is just a masterpiece beautifully made. There is so much wonderful music out there, and this album definitely landed among the stars. Billie Eilish is one of the few true artists in mainstream media.