Haley’s Poetic Playlist: “Sometime Around Midnight”

Well, hello! My name is Haley and Im trying my hand at this blogging thing. I do not read as much as I should these days, but I do listen to a decent amount of music.

As a long distance runner, I often find myself bored and lonely while pounding out the miles, and music has always kept me company. I used to only be able to listen to fast-paced motivational music, but now Ill listen to almost anything. I often use my runs to discover new music, as it is a distraction from the torture I endure during said runs. So, I am combining my passion for music and love of poetry in the hopes of exposing readers to some lovely musical poetry.


This first song I am looking at is one of my all-time favorite songs. There is such a mix of emotions attached to this particular piece and so many memories that surface when I hear the first note. I first learned of the band Airborne Toxic Event while on a long bus ride home from a cross country meet through a teammates ear bud, and I couldnt get enough. I decided to break up the song and analyze it a few stanzasat a time. The song is called Sometime Around Midnight.”

“Sometime Around Midnight”

“And it starts
Sometime around midnight
Or at least that’s when you lose yourself
For a minute or two”

While I am not even of age to be out at a bar yet, I feel as though most listeners can relate to the song’s ambiguous beginning. Sometimes you cant put a finger on what you are feeling at a particular moment, but this emotion gives birth to this explosion of spiraling thoughts and feelings inside your chest and head. You just know that it will be a while before you regain control — especially when it comes to loved ones, or lost loved ones. And in this case, what good can come from a situation like this after midnight?

“As you stand
Under the bar lights
And the band plays some song about forgetting yourself for a while
And the piano’s this melancholy soundtrack to her smile
And that white dress she’s wearing, you haven’t seen her
For a while”

Now the song introduces the character and the plot (which is somewhat expected). There’s a conflict between the melancholic soundtrack attempting to distract the narrator and his eventual surrender to the fact that his ex is in the same room as him, though he is not with her — which we can gather from the bit, melancholy soundtrack to her smile.” She is fairing a lot better than he is. The symbolism of a white dress is also lovely, as she is obviously light, happy, and doing well. It seems as though the singer has relapsed, feeling as though he was over her but now realizes that he is not.

“But you know
That she’s watching
She’s laughing, she’s turning
She’s holding her tonic like a cross
The room suddenly spinning, she walks up and asks how you are
So you can smell her perfume
You can see her lying naked in your arms”

I like the imagery here — that of the past relationship, and how his senses triggered the memory of their obvious romantic past. It also appears that she knows exactly what she is doing at this point: posing as though she is so pure and almost angelic with her white dress and cross,but knowing full well that this man she once loved hangs at the tip of her fingers.

“And so there’s a change
In your emotions
And all of these memories come rushing like feral waves to your mind
Of the curl of your bodies, like two perfect circles entwined
And you feel hopeless, and homeless, and lost in the haze of the wine”

I think that any human being who has ever experienced heartbreak knows exactly how this stanza feels. I loved the last line of feeling hopeless and homeless, because it is so relatable and accurate — when you love someone, you make them your home. They become a safe place to confide secrets, to share the very core of your existence, the essence of your being, and to have that taken from you leaves you feeling as though you have no place to go.

“Then she leaves
With someone you don’t know
But she makes sure you saw her, she looks right at you and bolts
As she walks out the door
Your blood boiling, your stomach in ropes
And then your friends say, ‘What is it? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.’”

I love this stanza, how she makes sure he saw her. Perhaps the singer did hurt her in some way as well (although this does not seem likely by listening to the narrators perspective). But lets say that he did, many people have been on the other side of the coin where they are doing well and they want their ex to see them thriving, to prove that the past relationship was no longer necessary to his or her well-being. And that line about his blood boiling and twisted stomach may be cliché but anyone would be lying if they claimed theyd never felt this combination.

“Then you walk
Under the streetlights
And you’re too drunk to notice that everyone is staring at you
You just don’t care what you look like
The world is falling around you
You just have to see her
You just have to see her
You just have to see her
You just have to see her
You just have to see her
You know that she’ll break you in two”

I love the desperation here. You just have to see heris the only line repeated in the song. There is no chorus. There is no bridge. There is just the story and the music. The fact that this line is repeated five times is significant because it captures the essence of the song, which essentially is heartbreak.

While this song may be about a dull, over-used topic, it is one of the most unique portrayals of love that I have ever heard. The music that accompanies the lyrics is beyond perfect, and as a violinist I connect with the use of strings in this song on a spiritual level. I enjoy blasting this song with every window down while driving full-speed down a country road on summer nights. Sometimes, cliché is beautiful and necessary; it’s cliché for a reason. And sometimes life repeats itself and you just need a song to capture it all.

*Editor’s note: This Spotify playlist will grow over the course of Haley’s continued blog posts for this feature.

— Haley Renison, Poetry Editor

2 thoughts on “Haley’s Poetic Playlist: “Sometime Around Midnight”

  1. Andrew October 9, 2020 / 12:51 am

    Thanks for writing this post! This song evokes such strong emotions in me I had to go poking around the internet to see if it was the same for others.

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