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Wake Up (Coheed & Cambria)

By Jess Fitzi

I should start by explaining a small fact here, before the creative side of my brain takes over. I firmly believe that the most important part about music is simply that; the music. The sound of each instrument coming together just right, combined with the tone and pace, and last but not least, the voice belonging to the singer. These things make music what it is; they make us like or dislike a song, and that is absolutely the most important aspect. However, I must also add that words are everything. Adding the perfect story to a piece of beautifully performed music is truly a bit of magic. The lyrics are what make us laugh or cry, or simply feel a connection to what we are hearing.

There seems to be a point in every song where you stop everything you were previously doing and just listen. This amazes me about music; how it can fully and irretrievably captivate us, to the point where nothing matters except this song. Coheed and Cambria has countless songs that create such a moment of pure awe. The singer’s undoubtedly incredible voice, coupled with the ingenious lyrics, have had an effect on thousands, including myself.

One particular song has truly amazed and inspired me, though. "Wake Up" was one of those songs that changed my interpretation of music, as well as my understanding of love. The lyrics portray a sad and desperate story, with a level of passion that I had not previously experienced in a single song. The first line alone:

“I’m going to ride this plane out of your life again
 I wish that I could stay, but you argue.”

It implies an intense and passionate feeling being dragged from the story teller. He feels as though he is so desperately and hopelessly in love that he can no longer allow himself to be in this relationship. He has reached a level of understanding and seems to finally realize that it is not enough to simply want to stay, and no matter how much devotion he may feel, he must separate himself. This rings true in many relationships, which I feel can bring the artist and the singer closer, forming a deeper and more real understanding of what the lyric is attempting to convey. The true moment for me, when concentrating on these lyrics, was when I heard this:

“In a phrase to cut these lips, I love you.”

This sentence alone is as powerful as an entire book. He puts so much emotion into the “I love you” it makes you wonder why he is still planning to leave her behind. Furthermore, this means that it is physically painful for him to love her. The pure act of saying those three words pains him, yet they ring true. This level of adoration is something we all crave, as well as something most of us will only feel once in our lives, if at all. There is an understanding here, between the artist and the listener, where he wants to make no mistake that all he wants is this girl. The only possible thing that can make him happy is the one to whom he is singing, though he also makes it clear that disregarding the desire, to continue they way they were, would be detrimental to both.
Claudio Sanchez (Lead singer and lyricist)
Moving forward, after stating the unfortunate realization that he must leave despite his immense love for this person, the man says:

“So leave yourself intact, because I will be coming back.”

When I first heard this song, I was told to listen to it by someone who claimed it reminded them of me. At first, after hearing these lyrics, I was a bit offended and confused. In all honesty, it is not a particularly cheerful song. By that first line, it implies that he is leaving and essentially, giving up. As I listened more closely and paid more attention to those oh-so-important lyrics, I came to the conclusion that someone thinking of you while listening to this song was of the highest compliments. This previous lyric is him telling this person that he loves so much, that he will not be gone forever. He is telling her that she needs to be okay, because even though he won’t be around in the same way anymore, he would not be gone forever. He wants her to be aware that he loves her; as he says, “I’ll do anything for you, kill anyone for you.” But it remains true that one cannot simply be with another because of only love. It’s as if he knows that he could not be away from her forever, but for the time being, he knows that it is best and has no other option.
The song continues with the words:

“The morning will come
In the press of every kiss
With your head upon my chest
Where I will annoy you
With every waking breath
Until you decide to wake up.”

This particular line seems to bring out a great deal of emotion in many. We all go about life day to day, thinking that what we have is what we get. We are under the impression that we need to do what is comfortable and safe. At this particular moment in the song, he is expressing that need to be safe and go on each day, knowing they should not be together at that moment in time, but being in such deep denial that there is no way out.

Now, the title of the song plays a huge role in this jumble of lyrics. It is being stated here that he has made peace with his decision to leave, and he is reassuring her that she will understand, once she opens her eyes and can see them destroying each other, despite being helplessly in love. He wants her to know that one day, she will wake up and agree that they could not have continued on as they were. 

In a general sense, this song is about pure love. It is about the unbelievable things we will do in order to first prove our love to someone, as well as do what is best for them, no matter how much emotional and physical pain it may bring us. This song is about recognizing how much you love and need someone and knowing that it is enough to leave for any amount of time and being able to come back at will. It is about the emotional connection between two people being so strong that even though they will spend what may seem like an eternity apart, they know that in the end, they will be brought back together. The fact that a simple two minute song can create such emotion amazes me.

This is, of course, my own personal interpretation of the song and the artist could have had an entirely different meaning. That is really the beauty of art, though. We have the freedom to see and hear whatever we like and that is why music drags so much emotion out of us, whether it be negative or positive. 
Honestly, I could analyze this song, as well as the majority of Coheed and Cambria’s songs, for days on end, but I will leave you with this:

Music is powerful. Music is beautiful and absolutely necessary. Combined with the right poetry, music can move people. It changes ideas, views, perspectives, and ultimately, lives. This particular song has surely changed my life. Music gives us a connection, making us feel as though we are not alone. It gives us the strength to push through and make difficult decisions. This art form is truly more magical that it is given credit for.