By Shoshana Berger
Often, in today’s media, relationships are portrayed through an exclusively sexual lens. The emotional component and the hard work necessary for successful relationships are left out of movies, TV shows, and especially songs. Today, most popular songs are sexually explicit and do not address other, deeper aspects of relationships.
In 2016, the popular country duo Dan and Shay released a song called “From The Ground Up.” This song, with its slow melody and passionate deliverance, takes listeners on the journey of a young couple’s life together. What stands out about this song is the lack of focus on the physical aspect of the relationship.
The song begins with the narrator explaining his grandparents’ relationship, which he describes as, “More than saying I do/Kiss you goodnights and I love yous.” These lines convey that their marriage went deeper than romance, that their relationship was strong and well rounded. In the second stanza, the narrator begins to describe the relationship he hopes to have with his significant other, which will mimic the one he saw between his grandparents. He sings that they will “build [their] own family/one day at a time,” and then imagines the child they will have.
The chorus is two stanzas, which emphasize the importance of “build[ing] this love from the ground up,” describing the value in slowly and carefully building a strong foundation for a lasting relationship. The chorus continues, “Beside you I’ll stand through the good and the bad/We’ll give all that we have.” This demonstrates the steadfast commitment between the couple. The narrator paints a future in which the couple will be willing to put in the hard work required for a successful life together.
This point is emphasized again in the first stanza of the second verse: “The clouds are gonna roll/The earth’s gonna shake/But I’ll be your shelter through the wind and the rain.” The rolling clouds and the shaking earth are metaphors for life’s challenges, for the inevitable instability and hardships. But through everything, the narrator wants to take care of his significant other, he wants them to take care of each other.
The climax of the song is the bridge, which reads: “Someday we’ll wake up/With thousands of pictures/Sixty-five years in this little house/I won’t trade for nothing, the life that we built/I’ll kiss you goodnight and say I love you still.” After all the hardships they will face, says the narrator, they will be able to look at their life together with pride; their love will still be strong, because they paid attention to each stage of the relationship. They cultivated it slowly and carefully, they stuck by each other through everything, and they had patience with life. The language in the bridge is similar to the description of the grandparents’ relationship at the beginning of the song, which illustrates that the relationship the narrator imagines himself having is similar to that which he witnessed between his grandparents.
This song is an “oldie but a goodie.” In today’s culture, when sexually oriented and explicit music is the norm, “From The Ground Up” remains fresh because it portrays that the deliberate cultivation and hard work put into the relationship leads to a long and happy life together.