Google+ Reading Teen: Song/Artist Review: "Somebody's Baby" by Jon Foreman

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Song/Artist Review: "Somebody's Baby" by Jon Foreman

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     “I look at our planet and see a horrible, beautiful world -- where love and hate breathe the same air -- Something inside me yearns for the beautiful, the true. I want more than what I’ve been sold. I want to live life.”  Jon Forman, has a very unique take on the world, and it comes out in every song he writes. He feels that if you’re not going anywhere with your music, if you’re not saying something that’s worth anyone’s time, then you might as well say nothing at all. Jon’s style can be found in everything from his life, to his audience. It can most importantly be found in his work, where he not only states the imperfections of the world, but he seems to ask, “Now what what are you going to do about it?” Many times people try to pretend that life is pretty and perfect, but in “Somebody’s Baby” Jon Foreman addresses grittier topics such as homelessness, addictions, and death, all of which many people would prefer to ignore.

     Jon began his professional musical career playing in the band Switchfoot when it first began in 1996. He continues to fulfill his many roles in the band including, but not limited to: Lead Singer, Lead Guitarist, and Main Songwriter, but in 2007 Jon also released his first solo EP entitled “Fall”. Since then, he’s released three others EPs: “Winter”, “Spring”, and “Summer”, all of which are completely one-of-a-kind, and yet still carry on the same message of “writing for a greater purpose”. Although God, sex, and politics are normally taboo in polite conversation, Jon says, “That’s what I do for a living. But I’m not like a teacher who knows all the answers. All of our songs dealing with larger life issues begin my own questions, ‘Why does pain exist? What am I doing here?’”  Jon’s view of questioning life seems to run in the family. In an interview, his brother, Tim, who is the bassist for Switchfoot, explained their new album, “Oh! Gravity”, like this: “‘Oh! Gravity’ is basically asking gravity why we can’t -- as people, as a country, as a world -- keep it together.”  Even though the Foremans have complex inspirations for their music, their main goal is simple: speak the truth.

     Jon’s songs may seem gentle and slow, but the meaning is always deep and clear; they are subtly powerful. Foreman seems to have a “less-is-more” philosophy. In many songs he uses only his guitar, but he also creatively, and sparingly, adds in trumpets, harmonicas, tubas, and even a Chinese guzheng, which gives each song an interesting twist. In an article about Jon, Tim Ghianni called his EPs, “A step down in ambiance and mood, from his “day job” as frontman for Switchfoot ... This raw acoustic outing allows Foreman to place his wordplay in the foreground.”  Athough it has a rough and unpolished feel, Jon’s solo work takes on a greater purpose; it draws attention to the the flaws of the world in a beautiful way.

      “She yells, ‘If you were homeless, sure as hell you’d be drunk, or high trying to get there or beggin’ for junk, when the people don’t want you, they just throw you money for beer.’” In these verses Jon addresses the emotion and stress that comes from homelessness in a way that facts and figures never could. He communicates a desperate need, and constant feeling of rejection that the homeless feel from the general population. He even bluntly acknowledges that, even if one is actually giving money, it’s usually more out of a feeling of discomfort or distaste than honest generosity. “Her name was November, she went by Autumn or Fall, it was seven long years since the Autumn when all of her nightmares grew fingers and all of her dreams grew a tear.” Jon eloquently draws attention to the fact that nearly seventy eight percent of female prostitutes were, or are currently homeless, and over eighty percent of them want nothing more than a different profession, but they have no other options. Using his weathered voice is the perfect tool for this melancholy story, and his wording makes this unhappy tale relatable to everyone.

      “She says, ‘Well if you’ve never gone at it alone, well then go ahead, you better throw the first stone, you’ve got one lonely stoner, waiting to bring to her knees. She dreams about heaven, remembering hell as a nightmare she visits and knows all too well, every now and again, when she’s sober, she brushes her teeth.” Jon doesn’t mention the fact that substance abuse is the number one cause of homelessness, or that one-third of the homeless population also suffer from schizophrenia, a disease that is highly treatable, but often gets ignored when it comes to the homeless, and yet what he said had the same effect. Anyone can easily put themselves into the shoes of this charcter. They can feel her pain, her want, and her need. After listening to Jon’s words, one can form a strong connection with the character he’s created.

      “Today was her birthday, strangely enough, when the cops found her body at the foot of the cliff, the anonymous caller this morning tipped off the police, they got her I.D. from her dental remains, the same fillings intact, the same nicotine stains, her birth and her death were both over with no one to grieve.” According to a study by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, it is estimated that, in 2007, between 2.3 and 3.5 million people experience homlessness. Each homeless person is three times more likely to die than a member of the general population, and while non-homeless Americans can expect to live to about seventy-three, the average age of death of homeless persons is about 50 years, the age at which Americans commonly died in 1900. Ignoring Foreman’s words will not make the truth of them go away, and he is doing his best to make sure that everyone hears.

      In the chorus Jon says over and over, “She’s somebody’s baby, somebody’s baby girl, and she’s somebody’s baby still.” To remind people that no matter who she is, no matter what she’s done, and no matter where she lives, she’s still somebody’s baby, just like everyone else. Jon Foreman’s beliefs are strong and abstract, and they show through everything he does day-to-day, who he speaks to, and what he says. Above all, Jon is singing about the world with honesty and actuality.

1 comment:

  1. I love Jon Foreman so much. I respect him as a person immensely, and I'm a huge fan of Switchfoot's music. Loved this review :)


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