Song: “I Get No Joy”
Artist: Jade Bird
Album: Jade Bird (self-titled)
Release: April 19, 2019
Genre: Indie Folk Rock
For my birthday this year, my husband took me to see the Lumineers at a local concert venue. The Lumineers played a fantastic show, but what really blew me away that night was a new English singer-songwriter who opened for them: Jade Bird. Her set had the fullness of a band, even though it was just her and an acoustic guitar. She had a raw power behind her vocals that gave way to a growl as she got louder. Yet, when she sang slower songs, her voice was soft, gentle, and clear. Her lyrics are painful, genuine, full of grief and memory yet still hopeful, and they grab your heartstrings and pull as hard as they can. They remind me of Joni Mitchell’s work: full of heartbreak and discovering your inner strength through it.
Of all the songs she sang that night, the one that resonated with me the most was “I Get No Joy.” I couldn’t get enough of the way she could scream and sing without losing her voice. The rhythm was catchy and her acoustic filled the theater beautifully. Despite the rather sad message of the lyrics, Jade made it look like so much fun to get up on the stage, lose herself in her music, and just play her heart out. Jade Bird is a talented singer and gifted songwriter and “I Get No Joy” is no exception.
Feel of the Song
Jade Bird’s music is indie folk rock, but this song leans a bit more on the rock side. With a steady drum beat, upbeat acoustic rhythm, and a distorted electric guitar driving behind it all, “I Get No Joy” has the perfect combination of indie soul and rock ‘n’ roll roots. The melody is uplifting and will keep listener’s feet tapping along. Jade’s vocals are clear and strong, even adding some vocal distortion during the chorus. The way she switches between both voices is astounding. Her projection is effortless and doesn’t seem to put too much strain on her vocal cords.
The rhythm the lyrics follow changes throughout the song. They start off slow, matching with the initial beat of the measure with just a few syllables. Then in the chorus, the rhythm changes to a more staccato word-per-beat flow with more syllables. It changes the feel of the song in a way that feels natural, but also sudden and exciting. It’s always amazing what songwriters can do by changing the rhythm of their words.
Lyrics and Meaning
Content Warning: In the third verse, the lyrics pose a question of “what’s your thing?” and the word “erotic” is one of the choices listed.
Despite the upbeat style of the song, the lyrics tell a sad story. At first, Jade seems to be singing about a dead end relationship. She’s doing everything she can to make her partner happy, but nothing seems to be working.
Military march, In and out my head
Everything I did, Everything I said
Take you to the arch, for your happiness
Or spend it like a lark, singing for nothing
Then, in the second verse, the focus turns inward. Jade realizes she might be the one causing her misery. She realizes that she has so much, yet still feels unhappy.
Together and apart, Do it all again
Right back to the start, straight up to the end
I’m such a fool, Got everything and you
Yet my heart is so blue, I’m singing for nothing
In the breakdown of the third verse, she questions herself on where her passion is and why life feels so dull.
Fact how many days a week do you feel
Electric, connected, unexpectedly affected?
What do you need?
Part of the problem, it seems in the chorus, are words Jade’s mother spoke over her that have burrowed themselves in her head. Instead of fostering hope and encouraging the things that bring Jade joy, the magic of living life was compressed into a short statement of “Everything becomes everything; you live, you learn, you love, you’re dead.” As true as those words may be, they miss the point of being alive and of experiencing the highs and lows of living. So, when Jade finds herself at this dead end, those are the words that play in her mind over and over.
However, in the bridge, Jade acknowledges that this isn’t the end and things can change. “I know the sun will shine another day, another time.” Things may be rough now and they may seem like a dead end, but there’s hope for tomorrow. Right now, though, all Jade can see is the wall she’s facing and she wants to scream until it breaks down. She’s going to sing her heart out until the breakthrough comes.
In “I Get No Joy,” Jade is singing about facing a dead-end. I think it’s something most people can identify with. I’ve been in dead-end relationships that I stayed in way too long. I’ve been in dead-end careers that left me wondering “Is this all there is?” Jade Bird seems to be asking us “Does the life you’re living bring you joy? If not, what do you need in order to change it?” I believe we are called to find our joy in Christ, in our salvation, and in living the life God called us to live. That’s what we need.
As a Christian listening to this song, I feel a twinge of sadness for Jade because she’s looking for joy in all the wrong places. In a way, she admits that in the first verse, but never quite figures out where that joy should come from by the end of the song. We Christians are supposed to find our joy in being obedient and sharing the gospel with others. Our jobs, our friends, our families, and our passions can bring temporary happiness and they should, but our joy is found in the Lord.
“Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying” Romans 12:12 (NLT)
Even when we are facing difficult times, including being at a dead-end, we are called to rejoice and keep on praying. Jesus said that we would face hard times and difficult choices, but He promised to always be with us. Paul, in Romans chapter 8, said that God would work everything for the good of those who love him (v. 28).
With that kind of hope, we can walk into and through any situation knowing that we’re not alone. No matter the outcome, as long as we keep on praying, God will show up and do amazing things beyond our comprehension. I can only hope that one day, Jade Bird would also find this supernatural joy and use her tremendous talent to spread that joy across the globe.