Though I no longer get weepy when I listen to “Let Her Go” by Passenger, I can clearly recall the moment when this song made not only me, but also my mother, break down in public. As the first few notes begin to play, already the tone of the song is one filled with longing and nostalgia. The piano and guitar work together in a simple harmony to open up the song and set the tone for what is to come. The rhythm is slow and repetitive, playing the same few notes a few times before the singer starts to serenade the listener with his sweet, crooning voice. The combination of instruments is very slow and soothing, almost peaceful to listen to. The song itself is considered a ballad, much slower paced, with a melancholic mood. The lack of synthesizer combined with the use of various instruments, piano, guitar, vocals, and bass, help to convey the meaning of the lyrics. For example, “Well you only need the light when it’s burning low / Only miss the sun when it starts to snow / Only know you love her when you let her go” helps the audience feel the same longing that the performer is describing (Passenger).
As my parents and I were crossing the George Washington Bridge, the car crammed with everything that my mother believed that I would need for college, we tried to be upbeat, but there was no way to shake the obvious apprehension that permeated the immediate space we all filled. My mother and I were straining to make conversation, and my father, as oblivious as ever, thought it wise to ask how I was feeling. My throat tightened and I couldn’t trust myself to speak. All I could do was nod and smile. Until that moment, the music coming from the radio had been white noise to us all. Then I heard the familiar notes of the piano. My eyes met my mother’s, and I knew it was all over. As Passenger’s voice filled the car, I felt the first searing drop run down my cheek. We had listened to the song all summer long in preparation for this moment, tried to “cry it out” so that when the time came it wouldn’t be as painful. In that moment, I knew that there was no conceivable way to say an emotionless goodbye to my mother. I heard truth in the line “Only hate the road when you’re missin’ home” (Passenger). I didn’t want to leave home, and hated the thought of being even the miniscule half an hour away.
The lyrics of the song struck a cord within my mother and me. The song touched upon what we didn’t want to discuss, letting go and maturing. I was moving on to a new chapter in my life, and though my mother was beyond happy for me, I am my mother’s baby. Dropping me off at college was the most difficult thing for my mother to do, besides giving birth to me, and in a sense this was another scenario when she had to “cut the chord.” I had to leave behind all that I knew and start fresh, which terrified me. My mother had to let me go and trust that I’d learn to survive on my own. As Passenger put it, we could only truly know how much we cared once we released each other. We had to let the other go, which in the end magnified the bond that we share.
My mother is the guiding force in my life. She is the one that I turn to in my times of need, and I rarely make decisions without consulting her. Seeing the woman cry, who I have known my entire life as being nothing but strong and infinitely knowledgeable, was the most heartbreaking moment of my life. “Let Her Go” by Passenger embodies the heartbreak that I experienced the day I saw my mother cry. It put words to the feelings that I could not begin to explain nor fully understand. The relationship that I had with my mother would not have evolved into what it is today without us first being apart and learning to appreciate one another. This song spoke to my mother and me and tapped into our emotions and our fear of letting go. In the end, letting go allowed us to develop a more mature relationship, and I now love and appreciate my mother more than ever before. This song, though it no longer makes us cry, speaks to us on such an emotional level because the lyrics once conveyed the sadness of our situation.
Passenger. “Let Her Go.” All the Little Lights. Black Crow, 2012. MP3.