Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM


Death Told Me I Was Loved | “Sadness As A Gift” by Adrianne Lenker


The breeze, bitter and spiteful in its pursuit, constantly fights the warmth needed to survive each day. With the new year setting in place, it’s easy to look towards whatever negativity shrouds our lives. The weather seems to mark a dreary tone not seen in hotter months, while the monotony of each day continuously drones throughout each conversation that’s had. The amount of pessimism drawn from these colder weeks seems never-ending, no matter what the source may be. 

Within these qualms comes a bleak yet necessary understanding: Those we love may be fighting as well. It’s hard to look past our misfortunes, yet closing off entirely only adds to the battles that others may face. Present and past relationships require time and understanding to be sustainable. Considering the struggles we’re all facing, it’s no wonder why Adrianne Lenker’s new single resonates deeply with the current season.

Released on Jan. 17 this year, “Sadness As A Gift” marks the announcement of Lenker’s newest album. Following the release of her previous albums, Bright Future seems to be the remedy for the drought experienced throughout these past few years. Though her work with her band, Big Thief, shouldn’t go unnoticed, it’s exciting to see a new solo project coming from Lenker. The artist’s slated release could be just the thing to get us through these next few weeks, despite how harsh these winter months may be.

Charming, twangy and melancholic, her latest single presents Lenker’s artistic abilities in their best form. In terms of the song’s lyricism, Lenker doesn’t disappoint. Though there’s no denying her remarkable talent for songwriting, the story presented within “Sadness As A Gift” continuously jabs and pokes in ways that it never did beforehand. A relationship found on death’s door marks the tone of the song, warmed only by the hopes that someone — anyone — might reach out:

Leaning on the windowsill /

You could write me someday, and I think you will /

We could see the sadness as a gift and still /

Feel too heavy to hold.

Despite the remnants of love left burning, the sparks that appear will never have the capacity to relight the relationship. Whatever is left at this point and time only departs through the words of an older soul:

Been searching for your eyes /

All I see is blue skies /

And that old man beats his crooked cane /

It’s time to let go.”

This verse, these words, have been meticulously dissected and peeled apart within my mind. Lenker has this unique capability to describe such complex thoughts and emotions with these simplistic yet creative lyrics. It’s something that truly heightens the experience for the listener, providing the capacity to interpret her lyrics in such diverse ways. 

Through days upon days of relistening to this song, one phrase prevailed above the rest: “Death told me I was loved.” Within the confines of this dying relationship, it’s apparent that both parties, even through Lenker’s singular perspective, wish to hear back from each other. These individuals, though separated, have this unique understanding that they were once loved by each other. 

No matter what your interpretation may be, it’s clear that “Sadness As A Gift” is a much-needed release from Adrianne Lenker. So while you brave the cold weather, the monotony or the general malaise of these winter months, give this song a listen.

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