Song Spotlight 3

Tell Me How” by Paramore.

Paramore is a band originating in Tennessee, currently consisting of Hayley Williams, Taylor York, and Zac Farro. They’ve just released their fifth album, which I’m not really going to review. I will, however, say that it is, at minimum, quite good. Among other things, it has a lot of what I, in my head, refer to as “surf rock” sounds (there is probably a better phrase out there), which is particularly fantastic for summer. (The band Coasts has a lot of this sound. Which is probably is the birthplace of my phrasing.)

This song is the last track on the album. It was written by Williams and York. It’s a pretty sharp digression from the general pace of the album while keeping a lot of the elements that make the album feel cohesive. I’ve chosen to single out this track because I don’t think it will get the widespread recognition it deserves; its popularity will either fade or take a backseat to bigger hitters like “Pool” or “Fake Happy” or the singles.

I’ve always considered honest, self-reflecting, and vulnerable writing among the highest forms of expression. In that regard, “Tell Me How” is a monument. I’ve tried to consider that perhaps this track is just unusually resonant with me and my own experiences. It’ll take some time to know whether it truly is a marvel or just a flash of brilliant light. I like to think that my recognition of good writing is pretty firm and honed, so, if that’s true, then this song is well-written and will not ever stop being well-written.

The first five lines resonate with me remarkably, which is why I feel this song is so well done. There is a certain taboo, I feel, with the heartbreaker being heartbroken; the logic seems to be that, if you’re the one who breaks the bond, you have a lesser right to feeling broken. Obviously, I don’t agree. I adamantly believe that feeling is feeling and the expression of feeling is unrestricted, and the only thing that can be criticized is if our own expression is unchecked, particularly if it affects others negatively. But there is a reason that breakees are encouraged to do what they want in response to the breakup, whereas breakers are just encouraged to go on living their life. Breakups tend to yield more sympathy for the victims. There is a weird stigma for breakers that the breakees don’t seem to have to deal with: since you called off the relationship, you don’t really get to be sad. That’s where this song comes in.

As I interpreted it, which may not be how it was intended, the song was written by the breaker. Whatever the relationship was (platonic, romantic, etc.), this person broke it. I think if you’ve ever broken up with someone that you loved, for whatever reason and in any capacity, this song provides a very honest depiction of what a breaker thinks in those days and months and years afterward. It’s certainly what I thought.

There are also two more lines that are so candid and so simple, I’m upset that I didn’t write it myself: “I guess it’s good to get it off my chest / I guess I can’t believe I haven’t yet”. It doesn’t seem like much on the surface, but let it dig.

Thanks for the tune, Paramore.