Adele’s 25: When We Were Young

Lyrics:

Everybody loves the things you do
From the way you talk to the way you move
Everybody here is watching you
‘Cause you feel like home
You’re like a dream come true

But if by chance you’re here alone
Can I have a moment before I go?
‘Cause I’ve been by myself all night long
Hoping you’re someone I used to know

You look like a movie
You sound like a song
My God, this reminds me
Of when we were young

Let me photograph you in this light
In case it is the last time
That we might be exactly like we were
Before we realized
We were sad of getting old
It made us restless
It was just like a movie
It was just like a song

I was so scared to face my fears
Nobody told me that you’d be here
And I swear you moved overseas
That’s what you said, when you left me

You still look like a movie
You still sound like a song
My God, this reminds me
Of when we were young

Let me photograph you in this light
In case it is the last time
That we might be exactly like we were
Before we realized
We were sad of getting old
It made us restless
It was just like a movie
It was just like a song

When we were young [4x]

It’s hard to admit that
Everything just takes me back
To when you were there
To when you were there
And a part of me keeps holding on
Just in case it hasn’t gone
I guess I still care
Do you still care?

It was just like a movie
It was just like a song
My God, this reminds me
Of when we were young

When we were young [4x]

Let me photograph you in this light
In case it is the last time
That we might be exactly like we were
Before we realized
We were sad of getting old
It made us restless
Oh I’m so mad I’m getting old
It makes me reckless
It was just like a movie
It was just like a song
When we were young

Thoughts:

Full disclosure: this is my absolute favorite song from the album. And I also think it’s the best song on the album. Some people may disagree, but those people are wrong.

Let’s start at the very beginning. This song comes right after “I Miss You” and it feels like something that would. No longer is Adele stuck on the facade of “Hello”, the passive-aggression of “Send My Love”, or the pure regret and longing of “I Miss You”. No, now she’s moved on to what is the centerpiece of the album and probably the centerpiece of what it means to be 25: nostalgia. In the first stanza, we get exactly that. “You feel like home” isn’t just a passing statement, it’s the embodiment of nostalgia (a word that comes from the Greek nostos, which means a return home). But more than just nostalgia, this song does something I’ve mentioned a few times on this blog in recent weeks: it backtracks. “Can I have a moment before I go” is Adele’s first attempt in this album to actually revisit a past from which she’s already far removed.

The first part I have in bold is a lyric she repeats throughout the song and I think it’s super poignant. Here’s why: not only does it represent Adele’s interaction with this man she’s seeing, it’s also indicative of the song. When you listen to the track, it feels like a movie and it’s clearly a song. The line is kind of meta but it’s also just the embodiment of the moment. It operates on so many levels.

The next stanza marks Adele’s transition into full-on nostalgia. When she says that she wants to photograph him in case this is the last time they’ll be the way they were before they get old, she’s putting the feelings of nostalgia into lyric form. That’s what we all want to do at some point in our lives. We want to keep things the way they were and remember them that way. That’s what photos do, they capture singular moments in time without context or meaning. They’re just moments. But we (I) so often want to keep those moments, forgetting all the moments that came directly before or after. That’s the danger of nostalgia.

Adele kind of knows that and she finally gets out the truth she’s been skirting around in the first 3 songs of the album. “A part of me keeps holding on/ just in case it hasn’t gone/ I guess I still care/ do you still care?” That’s the thing about nostalgia. It’s only there if you still actually care about how the past was. It only remains if you still care. And it’s ridiculously difficult to be at this liminal point where you’re looking back but you know you have to move forward. Not to mention the last, most strikingly debilitating line – “do you still care?” It’s frustrating and confusing and even maddening. Adele even says as much in the last highlighted phrase.

Getting old makes you reckless because it makes you remember your youth, even the parts that you’re probably better off forgetting.

I love this song. At every moment in every line, I feel what Adele is feeling. It forces introspection upon me but also regret and general sadness. When I’m done listening to this song I’m always left with a big ball of emotion that I don’t quite know what to do with. It’s not a bad feeling though. It’s the kind of feeling you only get every so often with music.

Grade: A+

I’ve already revealed that this is my favorite song from the album and the best song so this grade is no surprise. It’s basically perfect. You can listen below.

 

 

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