By Cayla Muschel, Arts and Culture Editor
“I know I was lost, but I miss those days.”
Bleachers is the one-man musical project of popular songwriter Jack Antonoff, drummer for the band Fun and songwriter for Taylor Swift, Lorde, and more. Based on his resumé, one tends to associate Antonoff with Top 100 hits; however, the lyrics from Antonoff’s Bleachers music tells a deeper, more thoughtful story.
“I Miss Those Days”, from Bleachers’ second studio album Gone Now, is a song about nostalgia, change, and the ephemerality of youth. Although this seems like a message that is usually associated with an older generation, Antonoff conveys the piece’s wistfulness while still utilizing his unique ability to relate the song to a younger generation.
The song begins, “Yeah, we talk about getting older/But there’s so much we haven’t done yet…And I curse my bedroom but I left it all alone/’Cause all this time I’m runaway, runaway, runaway, runaway, gone.” The narrator references contemporaries who consider themselves old, but they’re really still quite young. The difference between the present and their youth is that they are now bound by the structure of adult life. Today, all the narrator can do is “curse his bedroom,” whereas when he was younger, he had the freedom to simply leave his bedroom and run away. Around him, society is changing as well: “And everyone is changing/And storefront’s rearranging/I picked up a quarter and I just saw my face.” The narrator identifies with images of historical figures engraved on the currency.
The message conveyed by the lyrics is one of sadness, yet the melody of the song is fast-paced and strong. This contrast is evocative and bittersweet: in different hands these lyrics could have been associated with a mournful requiem for youth. Instead, Antonoff directs the song toward a deep appreciation for life as it was, the time that came before. Though the narrator experienced the sadness, confusion, and loneliness of adolescence, he can still look back and feel unadulterated love for his younger self’s life. “I’m sorry that you saw me when I lost my way…Hey, I know I was lost but I miss those days.”
The narrator knows he was lost, imperfect, young. “I’m not sure that we were meant to survive,” he says of himself; he is not looking back through a rose-colored lens. But now that he’s no longer “lost”, he longs for a time with less structure, a time when he “…was sixteen in a van driving myself to Florida.” The narrator notes that he has not completely cut ties with his younger self: “Part of me never left that seat ’cause/Nights and weekends still looking for a dream.” Societal nostalgia is generally associated with our older generations and their longing for the “olden days.” “I Miss Those Days” is associated with a different sort of nostalgia, one that is accessible to our generation as well: longing not only for the way society used to be, but for the freedom of adolescence.