On their website Snow Patrol’s bio describes this album as “raw emotion made flesh.” I think that is a fairly apt summary of the third album by this foursome from Ireland. Final Straw is a musical exploration of life, love, and disillusionment. Pain, pleasure, love and loathing are all laid bare in the 12 songs which make up this album.
Rather than giving redundant and sentimentalized navel gazing, Final Straw offers us songs that honestly reveal the human heart in its glory and darkness. Listening to this album could inspire dancing and weeping. It grapples with questions of personhood and identity with sincerity and some of the best poetic effort found in popular music. From their lyrics, to their musical composition and instrumentation, all the way down to the very titles that adorn their songs; Snow Patrol are extremely intentional in the communication of their music. There is nothing gratuitous or superfluous about this album. While not perfect, it is in many ways what music should be.
Questions“How to Be Dead”
1. What are your thoughts on the beginning of this song? How does it function as an introduction to the album? What kind of mood would you say this song carries with it? Why?
2. Who do you think he is singing to? Why? What is he trying to say?
3. What do you think of the poetry of these lyrics? Why? What do you think about the references to drugs in this song? Are they encouraging or discouraging drug use or neither? How do they fit with the rest of the lyrics?
4. What are your thoughts about the final line of the song: Doctor Jeckyll is wrestling Hyde, for my pride. What does this mean? Why do you think they chose to end the song with these words?
5. Why do you think this song was titled “How to Be Dead”?
1. What approach towards relationships is put forth in this song? Do you think relationships work this way?
2. What is being said about responsibility in relationships in this song?
3. What role does forgiveness have in the relationship described in this song? What role does forgiveness have in the relationships that you have with others?
4. Do you think this song portrays a genuine desire to change and work for a better relationship? Why or why not?
5. Why do you think this song is titled “Wow”?
1. How would you describe the music in this song? How would you describe the instrumentation? Are their any contrasting elements in the music? If so, what are they and how do they affect the way you hear this song?
2.Compare and contrast this song with the previous two; lyrically and musically? What are the differences? What similarities? What are the differences and similarities in the message of the song?
3. What do you think about the somewhat abrupt way this song ends? Why do you think it ends this way? What does this communicate if anything?
1. How does the word order of this song’s lyrics affect the weightiness of what’s being said?
2. What are your thoughts on the following lines:
I struggle and sweat when I’m wide awake…
When I know I’m fine, I’m not used to fine. What’s the message behind these words? Do you identify with any of these words? If so why?
3. What do you think about the phrase “Curled and joyless”? What do you think it refers to? What kinds of images and emotions does this phrase call to mind? 4. Why do you think he sings this immediately before singing
“We’ll try once again”?
1. What are your thoughts on the use of repetition in this song? Does it help to convey the overall message of the song or does it become irritating? Why/How?
1. What are the different impressions of love that you get from this song?
2. Overall do you think this song contains honest depictions of how it feels to be in love or infatuated with someone? Why or why not?
3. Have you ever had experiences and feelings similar to the ones described in this song? If so which ones? How did you deal with them?
4. What do you think about the line “Confused enough by life so thanks a lot”? Can you relate?
5. Do you think the music fits the message of this song? Why or why not?
6. If this song actually is about love why do you think it was named “Spitting Games”?
1. What do you think this song is about? Why? If you haven’t seen it already, check out the video to this song at http://launch.yahoo.com. (On the "Search Music" tab, select "Artists" from the dropdown list and enter "Snow Patrol" in the search box . On the results page, click Snow Patrol's "Videos" link to view a list of their videos.) Does the video change the way you hear this song at all? Does it change your mind as to what the song is about? Why or why not?
2. What feeling does the music give you? How does it do this?
3. Why do think the band chose to title this album with words from this song?
4. What are your thoughts on the following lines:
Just because I’m sorry,
Doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it at the time.
Can you relate to the sentiment expressed in these lines? Why? How does this sentiment line up with a Christian notion of why people sin?
5. What do you think about the following lines: What have I done?
It’s too late for that.
What have I become?
Truth is nothing yet.
What is he expressing about himself with these words? Do you relate to anything he is saying here? Why?
6. How are we as people supposed to evaluate our worth? How do we know if we “become” something worthwhile?
7. How do these lines relate to the lines that were at the beginning of the song?
1. How does the musical expression in this song affect the mood of the song? How is the singing in this song different than many of the other songs on the album? Do the music and the singing fit together?
2. Who is he singing to? What is he trying to tell that person? 3. How does the mood of the song influence how you hear the words that are being sung?
4. Is there any hope in the message of this song? If you say no why do you say no? If you say yes where do you hear hope?
5. Is there loyalty in the relationship between the person singing the song and the one they are singing it to? Why or why not?
6. Does this song strike a chord with you? Why or why not?
1. What is the story being told in this song? How does the progression of the music throughout the song help to tell this story?
2. What do you think about the statement that it’s easier to lie than to be safe? What is being communicated in this line? How you ever felt this way? What was the situation? What did you do?
3. If you were to use this song as background music in a movie what type of scene would this song show up in? Why?
“Ways & Means”
1. How is the tone of this song different from the previous two songs on the album? How does this song fit with the others around it?
2. What do you think about the following lines:
I’ve been waiting here my whole damn life,
And I’ve forgotten what I what.
What is being expressed by these words? Have you ever experienced anything like what the singer is expressing? What did/does it feel like?
3. Compare and contrast the picture of relationship painted by this song with the other pictures of relationships on this album? How would you describe the relationship being depicted in this song? Have you ever been in this type of relationship? What was that like? How did you deal with it?
4. What are your thoughts on the line, “So there’s a dark side in us all”? Do you agree or disagree? Why? What are the implications of this statement if it’s true?
“Tiny Little Fractures”
1. How does this song use questions to make statements? Do you think this is an effective use of the lyrics? Why or why not?
2. What do you think about the following lines:
If I’ve forgotten what to say
It’s because all words are dust.
What is meant by this statement? Do you think this is a true statement? Why or why not?
3. What do you think about the following lines:
What do you mean I don’t love you
I am standing here aren’t I
4. What does this say about the singer’s view of what love is? Do you agree with this view? Why or why not? How does the music add to or detract from this song? Why?
“Somewhere a Clock Is Ticking”
1. What do you think about the poetry of the lyrics in this song?
2. What do you think about the repeated statement, “I could do most anything to you”? Does this line bring some menace into the song or is it there for a different purpose?
3. What do you make of the allusions to war and soldiers? Is he speaking about the real things or using them as images that point to something else?
4. How does time and it’s progression factor into the lyrics of this song? Why do you think this is so?
5. What feeling does the music give you? How is the instrumentation on this song different from the other songs on this album? How does the music contribute to the overall message of this song?
1. What’s the same?
2. What is being communicated by the repetition of the line, “Baby, won’t you breathe?”
3. Where do you think there are going? Why? What do you think she is supposed to treat as a test? Why?
4. How does the tone and the tempo of this communicate the message of the song? What do you think about the use of the piano in this song? Is it appropriate for this song? Why or why not?