A Sweet Surrender


The song, “Never Let Me Go,” by Florence and the Machine, was released in 2012 and went to number one on various international music charts. The soulful lyrics illustrate the feeling of drowning through the perspective of Welch, who wrote this song based on the tragic suicide of Virginia Woolf. Woolf was a writer, who had left a note for her husband explaining the amazing time she had with him and that she could no longer be a burden to him. The context in the lyrics depicts the struggles that individuals face in their life and inevitably the decision one makes to stop living. This illustrates that the song is a representation of finding peace with oneself, and realizing that life’s devotions are not always enough. This can be exemplified through the virtual experience, release patterns, and congruity.


The virtual experience encompasses tragic lyrics as it explains the resolution of moral dilemmas. This is shown when she states, “reflections still look the same to me,” because she can no longer fix her past she decides to let them go. Also, Welch reflects on the past experiences seen through her eyes, which illustrate a poetic illusion of backwards looking with situations that cannot be changed. This shows that she regrets the choices she has made in the past but cannot amend her actions, which causes her to give in. Lyrics like, “But I’m not giving up, I’m just giving in,” exemplify release as seen often in poetic illusion. She states that she is not giving up but inevitably, she becomes enveloped in the prospect of death because it is seen as her only escape. Furthermore, when she states that, “It’s the only way to escape,” it portrays that the only way for her to move on is to escape from the reality of life.

Moreover, the release patterns found throughout the song consist of a rhythmic and melodic structure accompanied by phrasing. This illustrates that the song follows a slow temple, with long-held notes and a ritardando (gradually slower) flow (Sellnow, 118). Furthermore, the chorus is sung generally louder than the rest of the parts but still maintains a soft and mellow tone, which contributes to the overall message of leaving your attachments behind. Throughout the song, “Never Let Me Go,” the message that is conveyed through the lyrics, also contains the same emotional musical message. This is also known as, congruity. The smooth, soft and slow tempo of the song illustrates an emotional message which represents release patterns. Likewise, the conceptual message in the lyrics communicate that she has found peace in no longer living but still wants to be remembered, “In the arms of the ocean deliver me, Never let me go, never let me go.”

Overall, the message that is conveyed is blatant in that, it is about how she has found peace with dying because she can no longer handle the struggles in life. Furthermore, the patterns of the para-linguistic cues can further analyze the emotional and conceptual messages found throughout the song.

The Machine, Florence, perf. Never Let Me Go. Writ. Welch, Epworth, and Harpoon. 2012. Film. 25 Feb 2013. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bNKbeV3wM84&gt;.

Sellnow, Deana. The Rhetorical Power of Popular Culture: Considering Mediated Texts. California: Sage Publications, 2010. 118. Print.