Last Hoping

💖 Hayley Williams 💖

~ Paramore’s music has become special to me in recent years. I’m not exactly sure how, or when it happened exactly, or even why. Well, I guess I could answer these questions if I thought about them. Whether it comes from their instrumentally hyperactive-to-melancholic, angsty yet profound, pop punk sound or Hayley William’s transcendent vocals, over the last three years their music has been integral to me. I have vague memories of watching the shoddily-made high school ‘announcements’ on the in-class TV during my freshman year, the close out song & music video one fine day being “Decode” by Paramore. Paired with the release of Twilight in theaters earlier that month, I knew of the band and had heard some of their past hits of course, but held no judgments, let alone fanaticism concerning their music. Listening to it there in the bustle of advisory chatter, nearly no one else paying attention (few ever *watched* the school announcements), I distinctly remember “Decode” striking me as a jam — I dug it instantly. But then, I also remember the urge to temper my joy, certainly not vocalize it to my friends; you see, Twilight was a source of widespread derision as a “trashy chick flick” and Paramore, in association or standing alone, was a ‘chick’ band, was “emo”… {Guys being dudes, kids being dumb, tox masculinity, et al.} Or at least, these were my dominant perceptions at the time. And so, I did not seek out their music or strongly consider what compelled me to their sound again…

Paramore: Decode [OFFICIAL VIDEO]

Until these years later, now working at my corporate salaryman desk job, music a constant companion more than ever before, Spotify the ultimate algorithm-based discoverer of music at my fingertips, when Paramore came into my purview once more. Run through my established tastes to the point of redundancy ~ {Prog rock, metal, instrumental, orchestral, electronica, rap & hip-hop} ~ seeking something new — and given such infinite, easy access to all the discographies of the world — I gave Paramore another go. After listening to some of their ‘banger’ tracks here and there as they came recommended from my listening to other bands, and with a new album releasing at the time of my delve in 2017 {After Laughter}, I engaged a full sweep of their albums. And… I loved ‘em! All their albums I enjoyed, the slappin’ singles and the power ballads; there is a distinct development of their sound over the years between their five studio albums, marked by the obvious maturations that come with time and growing up {Hayley was 16 when the band started!}, but also shifted from the tales told in the lyrics and out of post-hoc interviews — tense interpersonal struggles, self-doubts, the crises of artistry and faith that come to all conscientious creators. After Laughter, perhaps Paramore’s final album, displays this alteration most of all in its tone, the mind state of the band returning from a long hiatus, the sharp lyricism and the synthetic 80s melancholia coloring the new sound. Maybe due to my own age at the time of its releasing, or my concurrent experiencing of it along with the rest of the world, or just from the sheer number of times I listened to it end to end, After Laughter became my favorite album of theirs.

After Laughter (2017) ~ Paramore’s 5th studio album

Now within my cycling wheelhouse of albums and artists and tracks that I draw from like oxygen within the voids of this outer space that we call life, a specific song from Paramore recurs to me in its spiritually-empowering valiance. So much so that I wish to write about it briefly, at the very least calling attention to its existence, speaking to its favor not just as an essential Paramore song — but as a life-enriching, invaluable aural spell. “Last Hope.” From their 2013 self-titled album Paramore following bandmate departures and questions of whether or not they might continue making music, Hayley Williams describes “Last Hope” as “the perfect first Paramore song if you’ve never heard the band before.”

~ https://genius.com/Paramore-last-hope-lyrics

[Verse 1]
I don’t even know myself at all
And I thought I would be happy by now

The more I try to push it I realize
Gotta let go of control

[Pre-Chorus]
Gotta let it happen
Gotta let it happen

Gotta let it happen
So let it happen

[Chorus]
It’s just a spark
But it’s enough to keep me going

And when it’s dark out, no one’s around
It keeps glowing

[Verse 2]
Every night I try my best to dream
Tomorrow makes it better
Then I wake up to the cold reality
That not a thing has changed

[Pre-Chorus]
But it will happen
Gotta let it happen

Gotta let it happen
Gotta let it happen

[Chorus]
It’s just a spark
But it’s enough to keep me going

And when it’s dark out, no one’s around
It keeps glowing

It’s just a spark
But it’s enough to keep me going

And when it’s dark out, no one’s around
It keeps glowing

[Bridge]
And the salt in my wounds
Isn’t burning any more than it used to

It’s not that I don’t feel the pain
It’s just I’m not afraid of hurting anymore

And the blood in these veins
Isn’t pumping any less than it ever has
And that’s the hope I have
The only thing I know that’s keeping me alive

Alive

[Pre-Chorus]
Gotta let it happen
Gotta let it happen

Gotta let it happen
Gotta let it happen

Gotta let it happen
Gotta let it happen

Gotta let it happen
Gotta let it happen

[Chorus]
It’s just a spark
But it’s enough to keep me going

(So if I let go of control now, I can be strong)
And when it’s dark out, no one’s around
It keeps glowing

It’s just a spark
But it’s enough to keep me going

(So if I keep my eyes closed, with the blind hope)
And when it’s dark out, no one’s around
It keeps glowing

[Outro]
Ah, ah, ah
Ah, ah, ah
Ooh, ooh, ooh
Ooh, ooh, ooh

~

“Last Hope”, to me, is a song about that spark. It’s about the darkness and the despair of life, the pits and the pain ~ the shadows of this transient existence that we can all relate to, those daemonic aspects of experience, whether it be singularly traumatic or everyday, that we all carry with us. What is the spark? — that hope, your faith, the source to keep that flame within us still-burning and weathering the cold, lighting up the darkness, buffering against the rogue winds threatening to snuff it all the time. When looming circumstances enforce misery, when the people and events and material experiences around us necessarily invade our inner — when there is nothing and no one outside us to ‘fall back on’ — what’s inside us becomes paramount.

“That’s the hope I have ~ the only thing that’s keeping me alive.

Whatever it may be or become, that “last hope” ~ a friend, your family, art, a song, one’s faith in God {as is the case with Hayley} ~ is a spark that must be nourished, protected, understood, with the kind of passion commensurate to its existential significance to us. Everyone needs that initializing spark — an idea, a purpose, a dream — in order to keep themselves going within the darkness. Hyperbole, metaphorical or not, this spark acts primarily as a clarion call answer to the constant question:

“Why are you still here?”

God forbid one ever has to really engage with such a potentially dire question in their introspections. Though, such engagements will surely come, whether we want them or not. I think it would be remiss to believe that *any * person of a certain age will not eventually experience such proverbial “dark nights of the soul” in one way or another before they are through. Deliberation with the questions of existence become imperative and unavoidable, the answering, individuated spark a necessary, life-saving thing.

In After Laughter’s “26”, Hayley similarly sings about holding onto hope “if you got it”, the irrelevant ‘costs’ of dreams due to their indispensability, reality inevitably breaking hearts, keeping your hopes alive “when all the rest of you has died.” The reality of people out there *without* hope must be faced and understood and lamented; this, too, is part of the reality that is breaking our heart, that is spurring our spark on wherever we can find it. Inescapably, to the point of lending a hand not just to friends, but strangers as well. No matter where you are, no matter to the echelon of society you inhabit or the social environment you call home — these are people you know. These people are us.

“Last Hope” – Live Chicago 2014
Hayley feels especially strongly about this song and the meaning behind the lyrics, which talk about going through difficult times and having faith you’ll come out alive, well and perhaps better than ever on the other side. In an interview with Fresh 102.7 in New York, she said:

“I called [our manager] and I was like, ‘Man, we just wrote this song, I think it’s like, I think this song is our purpose.’ I feel like the reason our band has lasted this long is so we can write a song like this.”
~ https://genius.com/Paramore-last-hope-lyrics

From out of Hayley’s otherworldly voice, the thesis of the expression within “Last Hope” is that of embracing life — ALL of life — its tragedies and joys and its wild storms of creative destruction and long strands of tedious degradation and “wasted” time and foolish circle-running. Gotta let it happen, Gotta let it happen. In the end, there may be no return, no great glowing redemption for you from out of your deepest, darkest pit, shining sword in hand leading on with a glorious crusade to justice, or happiness, or anything else you may classify as progression, goodness, completeness. There may just be your life, and how you lived it. Needless to say, not every story has a happy ending. Your last hope, wherever you end up finding it, or making it out of, for as long as it “keeps you going” — is certainly no saving grace, no absolution from the damage of this life; it’s just all we have in the end. ~

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5,160,355 views • Oct 10, 2017