Nights, by Frank Ocean—A song for lost souls

Nights, by Frank Ocean—A song for lost souls

Image for postA stylized drawing of Frank Ocean.

A series of synthetic chimes introduces the melody. They match up to an asynchronous beat that contains at once a soft soothing cadence and a sense of unease.

Fitting for a song that floats a wistful wish to change amidst a meandering life.

?That every night shit, every day shit.?

Frank Ocean?s Nights is a song in three acts:

  1. The first, introduced by the asynchronous melody
  2. The second, divided from the first by a chaotic electric guitar riff
  3. The third, a callback to the first with a more rushed and urgent beat

I think the reason Nights resonates with me, aside from just its musical genius, is the way each act weaves its own story around the theme of unease. The first one builds tension by invoking feelings of loneliness and drug-fueled escape.

?Although you got beaucoup family,you don?t even got nobody bein? honest with you.?

It?s all too familiar ? being surrounded by people, but still feeling an overwhelming sense of loneliness. Frank is at once connected and adrift, floating through life, ?round his city ?round the clock.?

?Breath till I evaporated,my whole body see through.?

This first mention of drug use is subtle, then compounded by subsequent verses:

?I?m fucking or I?m fucked up.?

?This feel like a quaalude.?

?Want to see nirvana but don?t want to die.?

?Roll some marijuana that?s a cheap vacation.?

That last one is my favorite line in the whole song. And it?s not just the lyrics that touch on drug use or abuse. I think the song?s three acts echo the idea that the relief provided by drugs is only temporary.

The second act is split from the first by a chaotic electric guitar riff that opens up into a blast of slow, calm melody. In this second act, Frank reflects on his past life with nostalgia, talking about staples of his younger life. 1990 when his family had an Acura. 6 discs interchanging. Bishops and church, the reverend. Eating at Shoney?s on occasion.

But this is only a temporary reprieve. The beat and lyrics from the first act return, this time a bit more anxious and rushed than before.

The song fades out into the night, bemoaning the monotonous pace of day-by-day life:

?Every night shit, every day shit, every night shit??

Throughout the past 5 years, I?ve struggled with anxiety, depression, and drug abuse. It?s left me feeling adrift. Alone when I?m surrounded by people. Without a life purpose. Frank Ocean?s Nights echoes that wandering, meandering path all too well.

It?s a song for lost souls like me.

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