The Meaning Behind Every Song on Myles Kennedy’s New Album ‘The Ides of March’
Myles Kennedy is among rock's most prolific musicians. The singer and multi-instrumentalist is seemingly always working on new music in some form or another and with a year of downtime amid a pandemic, well, of course fans were going to be treated to a new album. With the release of his second solo record, The Ides of March, we asked the always insightful Kennedy to provide a track-by-track breakdown and open up about the themes and messages present, which are ones we can all learn and grow from.
Some of the songs here were written in pre-pandemic times, but socio-political strife was already largely in focus prior to the many events endured in 2020. The timeless nature of Kennedy's ever-thoughtful lyricism and perennial relevance is one of the hallmarks of so much great music.
The Ides of March — be it the infamous day in history or the second solo album from Myles Kennedy — carries a heavy message, a word of warning and a tinge of hope. What's evident in this 11-track masterclass in hit songwriting though is that no one will be able to overthrow this king of rock 'n' roll.
Okay Myles, you're up! Tell us all about it!
Myles Kennedy's Track-by-Track Breakdown of The Ides of March
The narrative is based on the 1992 Los Angeles riots. I wrote the song in early spring of 2020 but I didn’t know if the lyric would resonate considering the subject matter occurred decades earlier. Fast forward to the summer of 2020. Social friction reared it’s ugly head once again and suddenly the narrative took on a new sense of urgency with its plea for tolerance and unity.
"A Thousand Words"
One night I was sitting on the couch watching TV while trying to come up with a lyric for a tune I’d been working on. My wife reached over and showed me a picture taken at our friend’s father’s funeral. It was one of the heaviest photos I’d seen in a long time. Something about the way our friends’ mother stood hunched over her father’s grave spoke volumes about life, love and our impermanence. It hit me right in the gut and the lyric came to life in a few minutes.
Chill out. That pretty much sums it up. The lyric paints a picture of a survivalist preparing for an impending zombie apocalypse. It was inspired by the first wave of lockdowns as everyone was buying vast amounts of toilet paper and supplies. I started to ask myself if it might be wise to try and gain some perspective and not overreact… keep calm and carry on.
"The Ides Of March"
From a lyrical standpoint, the first half serves as a warning. It paints a picture of a very dark dystopian future. The title is a reference to Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and the cautionary phrase, "Beware the Ides of March." The second half breaks from the bleak outlook to remind us that we can do better if we remember who we are and what we were meant to be. Cool heads prevail in times of change.
"Wake Me When It’s Over"
Written quickly one night after having a few drinks, it was an attempt to sum up what so many of us felt during the beginning of the pandemic. We were bored, frustrated and self medicating to avoid going stir crazy. What I like about the narrative is it pushes the idea that if everything is going to Hell, at least try and do it in a celebratory fashion.
"Love Rain Down"
Lyrically, I felt like this track was appropriate because it’s essentially a plea born out of longing. Longing for answers, longing for unity, longing for solace from the dark possibilities of the day. Even thought this is one of the songs written years prior to the rest of the record, the subject matter feels very relevant as we navigate through these crazy times.
"Tell It Like It Is"
A challenge to speak your mind when you have had enough. Sometimes you need to say what you need to say regardless of the outcome. Don’t sugarcoat it…. you've gotta lay it on the line.
The line “I remember when, we were suiting up again, before the end of time” was the not too distant memory of getting ready to hit the stage with my bandmates. It highlights how I took a lot of things for granted prior to the world shutting down.
The chorus manifests a resounding spirit of optimism that things will eventually return to normal.
This lyric is about yearning to set out and start over. Though this song was written over a decade ago, I thought it was appropriate given the frustration so many people were feeling being tethered at home in the beginning.
"Sifting Through the Fire"
Lyrically, it’s the idea that all of us are caught in our own echo chamber when it comes to the information we are getting. Trying to decipher what is true or false in this day and age of news and social media is a daunting task.
"Worried Mind" is the assurance that someone is willing to remain steadfast for something while calling on the need to compromise. Though this song’s narrative seems like the relationship dynamic between two people, it certainly could apply to something larger. For me, “A little give and take, could light the way, and bring this back to life” applies to society as a whole during these polarized times.
A big thank you to Myles Kennedy for offering so much insight on the inspiration and meaning behind the songs on his second solo album, 'The Ides of March.' The record is out everywhere on May 14 on Napalm Records. Get your copy here and follow Myles Kennedy on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Spotify.