Monday, December 7, 2015

Lisa Sawyer

Todd (Leon) Bridges is an American R&B and soul singer/songwriter from Fort Worth, Texas. He recently performed two of his hits from his debut album, "Coming Home" on Saturday Night Live. The two songs he sang, "River" and "Smooth Sailing" are, like many of the other songs on his album, poetic. He uses poetic devices in his music, such as an extended metaphor of ships in "Smooth Sailing" to represent his interest for a girl, and an extended metaphor of a river to represent salvation and being Baptized in the song "River." Although there is no extended metaphor used in "Lisa Sawyer", I view it as one of the most poetic songs on his album. The way the song is written and sung gives the impression a story unfolding. "Lisa Sawyer" does not follow the usual format of a song. There is no repeating chorus or bridge, but there is repetition, which emphasizes the importance of his lyrics and makes you want to just close your eyes and listen.

"Lisa Sawyer" is named and inspired by Bridges' mother, Lisa Sawyer. The song is narrated by Bridges and is directed towards his listeners in order to communicate his mother's upbringing in the 9th ward in New Orleans. Bridges' and his family have deep roots in New Orleans and I see the song as Bridges' way of connecting with and expressing his admiration for his mother and her family.

In the line, "Her mother's name was Eartha/Swift as the wind/ Fierce as fire," Bridges' uses metaphors to describe his grandmother's personality and presence. Her name was Eartha, which means "of the earth." He compares her to air and fire, two of the other elements. The metaphors offer the comparison of his grandmother to "Mother Earth," which would suggest that she was a strong and powerful woman: the boss of Lisa Sawyer's family.

Bridges' then sings about his grandfather, "Her father's name was Victor/ Worked two jobs to provide for his flock." Although Bridges' grandfather's name was Victor, his name is a dimensional word as he is a real-life "victor" for working two jobs in order to support his large family.

In the line, "Small, but a mansion in her eyes/Eyes, eyes, mansion/Never had much money/Money/But was filthy rich/With the wealth you couldn't get from a dark casino/Or a lottery ticket/They had love/Love, love/Rich in love," Bridges' uses repetition on "eyes," "mansion," "money," and "love." The reiteration expresses how his mother was content growing up, even though their family was not rich. Money was not a necessity in his mother's household growing up, love was more valuable to their family.

Bridges' expresses his admiration for his mother in the lines,"She had the complexion of/The complexion of a sweet praline/Hair long as the sea/Heart warm like Louisiana sun/Voice like a symphony/Of the most beautiful instruments/Whoa, beautiful." In these lines, "sweet praline" is a dimensional word. Bridges' is comparing his mother's skin to the color of a praline, and also characterizing his mother as a warm-hearted, soft, and sweet woman. Bridges' also repeats the word "beautiful" to underscore his mother's incredible beauty. The pride in Bridges' voice when singing about his mother is inevitable.

Leon Bridges' unconventional structure and use of poetic devices in "Lisa Sawyer" reveal to his listeners his respect for his family, and the underlying message that family and love are the two most important things in life.

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