Gimme Some Oven

Can’t Hold Us

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Words catch me off guard on a regular basis. In certain circumstances, I expect them to — a classic novel, a Rilke poem — while at other times I feel laughably ambushed. Such is the case with my recently chosen summer jam: Can’t Hold Us, from the Macklemore album, The Heist.

Yes, you read that right — I just mentioned Rilke and Macklemore in the same paragraph.

{monday melodies} songs to start your week

I laughed out loud the first time I heard Macklemore’s Thrift Shop song. Brilliant. As a fan of thrift stores myself, and a proponent of people pursuing their own unique style, I immediately enjoyed the clever fun of the lyrics.

So, a few weeks ago when the song came up among friends who hadn’t heard it, we watched the YouTube video (rightly ridiculous). Sarah then asked what we thought of his other song that had something to do with raising hands. After a little Google research we figured out the song was Can’t Hold Us — a song I always turned up when it came on the radio, but never knew was by “the Thrift Shop guy”.

We found the YouTube video for Can’t Hold Us, and hit play. I think I actually grinned open-mouthed throughout the entire video. First of all, it’s beautifully shot. Second, it’s obviously created out of a sense of fun and adventure. Third, even with all its over-the-top-ness (or perhaps, because of it) there is a strangely honest sense of hope unbridled.

Since I have a tendency to make meaning where there was none intended, I was surprised to find some seriously arresting phrases in the lyrics (condensed below):

Chasing dreams since I was fourteen
With the four-track, bussing
Halfway cross that city with the backpack
Fat cat, crushing labels out here
Nah, they can’t tell me nothing
We give that to the people
Spread it across the country
Labels out here
Nah they can’t tell me nothing
We give it to the people
Spread it across the country

Can we go back, this is the moment
Tonight is the night, we’ll fight till it’s over
So we put our hands up like the ceiling can’t hold us
Like the ceiling can’t hold us

I got a world to see…
Nah, I never, ever did it for a throne
That validation comes from giving it back to the people
Now sing a song and it goes like
“Raise those hands, this is our party
We came here to live life like nobody was watching”
I got my city right behind me, if I fall, they got me
Learn from that failure, gain humility, and then we keep marching

Let the night come, before the fight’s won
Some might run against the test
But those that triumph, embrace the fight cause
Their fears then prove that courage exists

Humility laid out amid funny lines like: And I’m eating at the beat like you gave a little speed to a great white shark on shark week? Intriguing.

Macklemore: Can't Hold Us | #quote

But it was seeing that beautifully sung hook, we put our hands up like the ceiling can’t hold us, written out in words that caught me off guard. An offering of a new way to look at the same circumstances — the gift of What if — climaxing in the poetic challenge to see your fear as a reminder to take courage.

And last but not least, the final word in the song is simply, Hope. Repeated.

Summer jam indeed — fun, lively, and full of expectation. Thanks, Macklemore.

What’s your summer jam?

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bet mercer

Bet Mercer is a poet-photographer who writes at Gimme Some Reads and Everyday Poetry. She loves quotes, reading her favourite books over again, great conversation, laughter, trees, films, and travelling the world. Follow along with Bet on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr, Etsy and Google+.

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