Cage The Elephant are usually associated with high-energy rock that makes you want to move until you can’t anymore. Like anybody else, though, Matt Schultz and company can do more than one thing, and they’re showing off their versatility on the new single “Goodbye.” The percussion-less ballad is a slower and more reflective song than most of the band’s other ones, led by piano and strings, and it shows off a vulnerable side that the group is able to pull off gorgeously.
Shultz told Zane Lowe about the song’s context, saying, “At the time that the song was written, it was just a time in life where there was a lot of turbulence in general. My cousin, who growing up was like my best friend in high school, passed away, and two really dear friends took their life that year, and, at the same time, I had a relationship that wasn’t working out. And so, it was just a heavy time. So, the song, it represented a lot for me.”
Shultz also said the song actually started its life before all the aforementioned turbulence:
“I actually written this song years, years before, kind of based on a premonition of sorts. Not in like a psychic way, but sometimes you just know what’s coming in life without having for it to come to pass. And when we finally recorded it, it was just putting words to everything that had happened. But you know, what’s wild is that in life, I know that this song can come across as just heavy, but there’s actually a deep brightness in it. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard the saying, but, a bright sadness. And hope. Hope can’t be alive without the presence of grief, and within grief there’s most certainly hope. At some times we don’t see that and we don’t have that perspective and that’s when it’s really unfortunate.
But there was a lot of hope in it for myself. There was a big letting go of things. I’m just trying to think of how to completely put it into words because I think that there’s the temptation, when you’re going through a tough time, to get stuck in the melodrama of things, and be like, ‘Oh I’m gonna write a sad song and it’s gonna just explain exactly where I’m at.’ And you miss out on all the notes, other notes and colors of life that are so important. I actually see it as a very uplifting song.”
Listen to “Goodbye” above.
Social Cues is out 4/19 via RCA Records. Pre-order it here.