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Reba’s “Consider Me Gone” (I)

Reba’s “Consider Me Gone” (I)


A Weak Simile In Reba’s Song?


In fairness this isn’t really Reba’s poor simile.  Because she’s a great vocalist and song interpreter, she’s able to make the simile in “Consider Me Gone” sound reasonable, so as a listener, we give it a pass.

And don’t get me wrong – I like this song. I like listening to it and they don’t make ’em this way anymore, so we should all appreciate the songs that made country music – well – country!

The purpose of the post is to really drill down and nit pick a hit song. Yes – even they have some flaws on occassion!

It should also reinforce for aspiring songwriters that you should take feedback with a grain of salt. Not everything has to be text book to be a hit.

We’ll take a few minutes to review the difference between a simile and metaphor, and then focus on the song in Reba’s “Consider Me Gone” Part 2.

The simile in question (hint: it’s in Verse 2) is likely a result of the songwriters focusing on the meter of the song and the end rhyme needed – granted I’m guessing, but it would explain a few things.

I know you’re asking – are you sure it’s a simile and not a metaphor?  Yep, and here’s an easy way to distinguish the two:

  • A simile uses the words “like” or “as” to make a direct comparison.
  • A metaphor, unlike a simile, isn’t a direct comparison.  It’s an implied connection between two thing. The two are usually very different, with the first being necessary to give meaning to the thing being defined.  In other words, complex and hard to maintain during an entire song, unless your song is a metaphor.


How Do You Know If A Simile’s Not Working?


It all comes down to the primary reasons you’re using a simile.  One of the reasons people are drawn to any kind of writing (songs, poems, short stories, novels) is the imagery, or figurative language, used to create a context and texture.  Figurative language like similes or metaphors help us create detail without sounding flat and uninteresting by simply reporting the facts.

The line, “I see a butterfly on a tree trunk, it’s wings moving as the wind blows” is very different from –

“Over my head, I see the bronze butterfly, asleep on the black trunk, blowing like a leaf in green shadow.” (from James Wright’s Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota)

The simile “like a leaf in green shadow” adds texture to the poem, and provides an additional image to help define the butterfly’s appearance – and the mood.

Because you can visualize the butterfly as being similar to a leaf, it works. “Green shadow” adds an additional dimension to the visual, while “shadow” helps add a layer of somberness to the line.  He accomplished it in three words. As a result, the entire poem is made richer for the reader/listener.

Ultimately, using figurative language (in this case a simile), should add something to the song that gives the thing being mentioned a deeper meaning. By making a direct comparison, elements of the the item after “like” or ”as” should be additive to what we already know about the item before “like” or “as” vs. simply an image.


Can You Spot The Simile?


Take a few minutes to come up with a few reasons why it may not be the best one to use.  We’ll discuss in detail in Reba’s “Consider Me Gone” Part 2.



One Comment

  1. Hi
    A comment on similes

    I’d say similes can be bad in a couple of different ways, and that it can be important to understand the differences.

    1) Objectively bad. Take the sentence “You were almost as angry as a dirty door mat” – it could probably be described as one of the worst attempts at creating a simile ever. No matter how much you try, I don’t think it’s possible to get that one to make sense.

    2) It can be bad from other points of view. For example, it can be hard to grasp, demanding a bit of thinking or analyzing before making sense. This simile may be bad from a commercial point of view – if a song is going to be played on the radio, as all the songwriting tippers tell/scare us, then it must be direct, and immediately understandable – but it doesn’t have to be bad in itself.

    Now, looking at the three sentences you’re discussing here, I’d say the simile probably falls in the latter category rather than the former. Here’s a way of reading it – the way I read it – that makes perfect sense:

    With you I’ve always been wide open
    Like a window [I.e. inviting, welcoming, interesting.]
    Or an ocean [I.e. dark and scary as hell, with depths you just don’t wanna think about, as something you want to enjoy from a distance or a safe place, as something you think about twice before entering.]
    There’s nothing I’ve ever tried to hide.

    Now, isn’t the third line explained perfectly by that way of reading the second one?
    I’d say this simile isn’t just good, it’s even beautiful in its really compact way of describing the complex feelings other people’s sincerity can create in us. Now, I don’t know if the author of the sentences had that in mind – frankly, I doubt it – but with a little creative thinking I think this particular piece of lyrics is quite good, and thus a bad example of a bad simile.


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