The Humanities in Music

An Analysis of John Mayer’s Grammy-Award Winning song, “Gravity” off of his critically acclaimed Album, “Continuum”

This album centers around many of the same themes I am exploring in this portfolio: humanity, the human condition, and the finite aspects of life. The song Gravity epitomizes these sentiments in a culmination of introspection and self-reflection.

Lyrics:

Analysis:

The song opens up with what appears to be a confession of weakness. “Gravity is working against me—and gravity wants to bring me down.” This gravity can either refer to society and our surrounding circumstances or our stark limitations as human beings. It can also be in reference to our faulted perceptions of the world. The stark realities of the world can be restrictive and discouraging as they hinder the idealistic view that we envision.

“Oh, I’ll never know what makes this man with all the love that his heart—dream of ways to throw it all away.” This line suggests that we as human beings are inclined to love. We share a bond in that we all face many of the same challenges and are confronted with many of the same desires and temptations. While this may be true, it is these same desires and inclinations stemmed from human greed and malice which drives us apart. When this occurs, hate persists and love cannot be achieved.

“Oh, twice as much ain’t twice as good, and can’t sustain like one half could.” This references the aforementioned greed and malice of humanity. While ambition can drive us to better the lives of ourselves and others, it can also be destructive, leaving us feeling somewhat unfulfilled no matter the circumstances. It is this ambition that drives humans to always seek change. Ambition lays at the foundation of the sentiments that inspire revolution.

“It’s wanting more that’s gonna send me to my knees.” This line furthers the claims made in the last line in that we will never be truly satisfied as human beings. We are creatures that naturally crave esteem and progress. The reality of our mortality makes us all the more keen to progress and change as much as we can before our time on this earth has come to its conclusion.

“Keep me where the light is.” This line builds a dichotomy between the ideas of light and dark. The light most likely stands for the positive and good elements of humanity while the dark likely stands for the negative and evil elements of humanity. The grapple between good and evil is a concept that has been wrestled over by humans since the beginning of time. The constant repetition and pleading of this line suggests that the artist is crying out to a higher power to assist him in keeping righteousness at their focus and avoid succumbing to the evils of the world (i.e. corruption, greed, selfishness). It is this constant desire for progress and search for betterment that inspires change in us as human beings.

This song carries strong connotations of the theme of human insatiability. In accordance with my definition of revolution, it is this insatiability that inspires us to seek out and enumerate faulted precedents and seek to change them for the sake of betterment and progress in the form of revolution.