Twenty One Pilots – Car Radio (Readers Response Essay)

By July 16, 2018 Music

In order to read and analyze a particular work of creative exposure put into the form of writing. I must first give that of a general basis of background information, then a generic overview as well as my own interpretation of the song through that of its very own lyric’s and then finally talking about how the song relates to me in my own personal way and format. Now, the song that I chose to read and interpret was that of a song by the name of “Car Radio” created by the band, Twenty One Pilots. First however, I feel that in order to do this song justice, I must first provide some background information upon the author of these lyrics… which of course is none other but the members of the band. The band was in 2012 and after just having been the local favorites of their very own home state of Ohio; they were put into the big leagues by the producers of Fueled by Ramen.

Twenty One Pilots consist of two members, Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun. Twenty One Pilots became famous because of their thought provoking and deeply poetic lyrics. But most of all they are loved for their energized and interactive live performances. The name of the band has a deep abyss of meaning behind it. The name Twenty One Pilots came to be when the singer/writer Tyler Joseph had to read the play All My Sons by Arthur Miller for his language and composition class in college. The play was about a father who had to run a company that provided parts for airplanes that were to be used in the war of “World War II”.

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However, the man comes to a crossroads when he finds out that the parts he has to provide are rather faulty. He then has a difficult decision to make, either he can take the parts back and lose a lot of money as well as “taint” that of his companies name as “unreliable”, but inevitably doing the right thing to do.

Or he can send out the parts, make money, provide for his family and keep his business “untainted”. In the end, he sends out the faulty parts and twenty one pilots… die because of it, including that of his very own son who was a pilot in the war. However, there was no evidence to prove that his son’s death was directly related to his shipment. However, his daughter had blamed him relentlessly for her brother’s death. Her unwillingness to forgive him and his relentless guilt had caused him to commit suicide. Now, here’s how the band makes the name relevant.

They feel that in life, people (this generation especially) are constantly at a cross roads in which they give up all of their morals for the benefits of the “here & now”, even despite the fact that it will have consequences down the road. Because in all truth it’s the decisions that might seem tough in the beginning that will ultimately be the ones that are more rewarding in the end. The duo states that as musicians their main goal and desire for creating music is that of something, just as simple as the fact that they “Just want to make people think”. As for the song, I want to start off with a rather broad interpretation.

The song is called “Car Radio”. It talks constantly about a man whose radio has been stolen out of his car and how he just can’t seem to deal with the silence that has now taken over his environment. The only thing that the singer had to state about this song was this “I wrote this song because I’m an emotional person.” Simple enough right? Now, given that, we could still state that this song is literal, that a man really did get his car radio stolen. However, knowing all of that background information, I feel that this song should be developed more in our minds eye and taken in a more metaphoric way.

When asking all of my fellow peers to take in and read over this song, it seemed to me that the main reoccurring idea was that of the narrators’ unwillingness to just accept his thoughts, because now he no longer had those materialistic distractions of his “radio.” He now, has to deal with this newfound reality face to face. For the most part, this interpretation that everyone had constructed was in fact, somewhat correct. I will now give my own insight into this song simply through the lyrics.

The song starts off with the words, “I ponder of something great. My lungs will fill and then deflate. They fill with fire, exhale desire, I know it’s dire my time today.” So far, what I can deduce from this is that the speaker is thinking deeply about life and that it is causing him to breathe abnormally due to panic. But there’s a certain phrase that sticks out me, it’s the phrase

“They fill with fire, exhale desire.” Knowing that this band is a religious one, I take the phrase metaphorically to say that people cause (by inhaling fire) all of this sin, just to get their desire’s (the outcome being that of the exhaled desire). It then goes on to say “I know it’s dire my time today.” This represents his realization of just how mortal he is upon this Earth. The song seems to explain to me that this “Car” represents his body as he goes through this journey called life and that his “radio” was just the materialistic distractions that have for so many years just kept his mind from focusing on the reality of the road, “his journey through life”. But this “radio” has always kept his thoughts, distracted from his sins and lack of a relationship with God.

But now life has stolen his radio away as he comes closer to that of “Judgment Day”. The lyrics “Sometimes quiet is violent. I find it hard to hide that my pride is no longer inside it.” Shows a person going through depression and how saying nothing about such a thing can truly wreak havoc upon someone’s mind. This is shown again specifically in the phrase “Inside my dream I hate this car that I’m driving there’s no hiding for me. I’m forced to deal with what I feel. There is no distraction to mask what is real.”

Then there is the line, “I can pull the steering wheel.” Which is a reference to suicide; he can pull the wheel to stop his mind and inevitably destroy his body with a crash. The lyrics then get into describing this general fear among us human beings, giving it a literal sense of the constant struggle within ourselves. You see this in the lines “I ponder of something terrifying, cause this time there’s no sound to hide behind. I find over the course of our human existence one thing consists of consistence and it’s that we’re all battling fear. Oh dear, I don’t know if we know why we’re here. Oh my! Too deep please stop thinking! I liked it better when my car had sound!” The song then comes to a conclusion by saying that people have so many choices to get out of this hole that they have created. That they can heal and be happy again, but only if they choose to just think and be faithful. The speaker then describes to the reader/listener that he will do anything in order to help someone.

This in presented in the following lines… “There are things that we can do, but from the things that we choose to do, peace will win and fear will lose. There’s faith (peace) and there’s sleep (fear/ignorance), we need to pick one please. Because faith used to be, awakened to be, awake is for us to think and for us to think is to be alive and I will try with every rhyme to come across like I am dying to let you know that you need to try to think.” Basically just stating that in life we can either avoid God or sleep in our fear and ignorance or we can invest our faith once again and choose to finally live. Finally, this song and band is special to me because it represents all of these grandiose memories that my mom and I had shared. After a loved family member had passed away, after the death of my beloved grandpa Chub, my mom was never the same and she had went through a period of depression. She most often could be found weeping tears of anguish and sorrow. Yet, she wanted to change this and be stronger for us, her children, and so she started to look up a lot of religious things, books, scriptures, quotes and even songs.

It was then that one day, she came across a song called “Holding Onto You” by Twenty One Pilots and in that moment she had decided that she needed to show it to me because she knew that I personally would love it, simply because of the fact that she knew that she and I have very much the same taste in music. That day I will always remember that smile that had manifested its way upon her face as we listened to that very song. I remembered how it had been months since I last saw her smile like that, and so I decided to look up the band and more and more of their music. I did this because I wanted to see her smile again. I ended up buying her the CD and somehow this band helped her through her depression. I picked the song “Car Radio” because I feel that at the time, this song was the perfect representation of her. For days she tried to distract herself, she was in denial, anger and depression. However, this band and our relationship with each other had pulled her back to reality to help her face her fear of a life without her dad. I had my mom back again and we’ve adored this band ever since.

We attended their concert last September on the 29th day as we held each other in our arms and cried/sang along to their performance of “Holding Onto You” along with so many others. It was such an amazing moment, to see Tyler standing on the hands of people in the mosh pit while singing and then falling back into the arms of a security guard. Now, that was faith. It was also really amazing to be with so many other people within that crowd, it was amazing to see just how much just two people can impact such a large group of human beings and can even create a tsunami of emotion to overtake a crowd that has come together for the one simple fact that they all had something in common… a general love for music. We hope to see them again soon. Maybe even as soon as November!


I'm Amanda

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