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Song Idea: Making The Same Different (II)

Song Idea: Making The Same Different (II)

Song Analysis Of The Song Idea!


I used the Song Analysis exercise to get a better handle on what is going on in the song and the poem. Hopefully, this will help me better understand how the song idea and poem idea are the same – but different.


Point Of View – Who’s Speaking & Telling The Story?


“My Papa’s Waltz”

The speaker is an adult male. Written in second person/direct address and describes a single scene. Mother is present as a bystander.


“Dance With My Father”

The speaker is an adult (not gender specific). Written in first person and describes multiple scenes. Mother is present as a bystander until bridge.


What Is The Scene?


“My Papa’s Waltz”

A man is recounting a common scene from his childhood to his father (“you”). It’s clear the father had been drinking i.e., “whiskey on your breath” and this was a “waltz” they did together, the father leading.

Lines like “…battered on one knuckle …”; “… my ear scraped a buckle …”; and “… you beat time on my head …” indicate the stoic relationship they shared, but are balanced with lines like “we romped until the pans/slid from the kitchen shelf”; “… but I hung on like death …”; “… then waltzed me off to bed/still clinging to your shirt.”

While the father was probably not the most emotionally expressive, the son found a way to connect with him through their “waltz.”


“Dance With My Father”

An adult is looking back on events during their childhood, with the chorus indicating a loss of the father at some point. However, this one’s tricky: most of the song is written as if the adult is looking back at events during their childhood.

Verse 1 makes it clear i.e., “back when I was a child.” The song stays in a reflective mode until the very last chorus, when it shifts into the immediate present.

It uses the bridge to move from hearing the mother cry when they were young, to their ongoing desire for their mother to be happy.

Even as an adult, the speaker/singer prays for the father to come back and make their mother happy. Which makes the last line even more powerful when you consider the present moment: “But Dear Lord she’s dying . . .” the double meaning is made possible by the shift in the chorus.


Write A Short Bio Of The Father In Each


“My Papa’s Waltz”

He’s probably a blue collar worker, i.e., ” battered on one knuckle,” and drinks before coming home but not so much he’s angry (“romped” isn’t an angry word).

The family probably don’t have much, but the father works to support his family as best he can – working long hours arriving home just before bedtime. He is probably from a time when men were men, and showed very little emotion toward their sons. This may be the only way he can show his son he loves him or cares about him.


“Dance With My Father”

This father is very different from the father in Roethke’s poem. He is able to express himself to his child. He openly shows affection and caring for both the mother and the child. These are two very different households.


Write A Short Bio Of The Speaker In Each


“My Papa’s Waltz”

Is a grown man who, in looking back, realizes his father couldn’t show how he felt, and recognizes the details that defined his father’s nature. Maybe he wanted more affection from his father, and is telling his father now because the father’s life has come closer to the end, and the son now sees they were as close as his father was capable of – then and now.

“Dance With My Father”

Is an adult who in suffering a loss is reflecting on their father, his legacy, his powerful actions that helped shaped both their life as well as their mother’s. The speaker understands how the loss of their father is far more destructive for their mother, and in the bridge shifts away from focusing on the “me,” and shifts to giving up the chance they’ve yearned for throughout the song in order to make their mother happy again.


Rhyme Scheme Of Each & How It’s Working To Tie With The Idea


“My Papa’s Waltz”

The rhyme scheme is A/B/A/B and is consistent throughout the poem. The rhyme scheme creates a flow through the story, while making each stanza unique from the others. There is no linking across stanzas except via the story itself.


“Dance With My Father”

The rhyme scheme in the song works off a predominate sound, a long “e” as in the word “me.” You’ll notice verse 1 is A/B/A/C/C/C/D. I dropped the “and then” since it’s really used as a post rhyme phrase, as is “with him” in the chorus.

The long “e” sound appears again in verse 2 with words like “disagree,” “me,” “asleep,” “sheet,” and again, “me”; then in the bridge “even more than me” two times, and again in the final chorus and last two lines as “usually,” “asleep,” and “dream.”

The song uses this rhyming device to tie together lines which seem to have no rhymed partner, like verse 1/line 2 “innocence”; verse 2/ line 2 “from her to him.” While orphaned within the verse, they are surrounded by a similar sound throughout the song.

Again, hard to do well, but done very well here without sounding contrived.


Punctuation: If Added To “Dance With My Father”

How Would It Compare To The Poem?


“Dance With My Father”

The two are very similar in how the first verse of the song and the first stanza are structured. Each is focused entirely on a single scene, and both use a colon and/or semi-colon to describe the scene in flowing detail.

The song uses this punctation technique throughout the song to bring a general calmness and sensitivity to the language. The melody line and accompaniment are also devoid of harsh, stopping type notes or rhythms, paralleling the punctuation.


How is the poem using punctuation to tie the rhyme together?


“My Papa’s Waltz”

Each of the phrases ends with either a colon or semi-colon, however, a period does not appear until the last line of each stanza. Only then does a complete stop in flow occur. A complete, connected thought of all four lines, or in the case of a waltz, all four sides. The rhyme emulates this structure.


What Is The Song’s Structure? What About The Poem?


“My Papa’s Waltz”

Is written in four line groups or quatrains. The flow is consistent, much like the waltz, which is essentially dancing in the shape of boxes. There is no shift or major change in the pattern.


“Dance With My Father”

Verse/Chorus/Verse/Chorus/Bridge/Chorus/Out. The structure involves a longer verse in terms of lines than the chorus, and in doing so creates a very tight chorus to allow a focus on the hook “to dance with my father again.” The rhyme scheme in the chorus is E/E/F/F, which creates a very strong emphasis on the two line couplets, particularly the last couplet containing the hook.


In Part 3 we’ll complete the final three questions from the exercise.


Parts 1 and 3

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