This song comes at a pivotal point in Maude's life as she prepares to graduate Columbia University, a place that has become a part of her artist brand over the years she's been a student there. With the end of having the "student" label to depressurize the rocky realities of being a musician, Maude sings about feeling the pressures of having such big dreams and such an unsure path in getting there. She acknowledges that there will be good and bad days and that sometimes the bad days can't simply be wished away. But she also has the promises she's made to herself and the music playing through her headphones to be a guiding light.
Maude discussed on her Instagram how she's incredibly excited for this song to come out because it is so personal and based in her own hopes and dreams and not about a relationship that she was only half of. In the pre-chorus, she puts a spin on those overly happy pick-me-up phrases singing, "I know there's a brighter day / But it's not today." These discouraged statements are wrapped in cotton candy sounds that feels like skipping through Disneyland in their bright happiness.
In the chorus, she reflects on her dreams and how daunting they are to face. Jumping an octave, she sings, "These dreams I have are so insane / I try to tell you but I can't / You wouldn't even get it / Even if I said it." It's an interesting reflection on how lonely artistic careers can be because they're still so undervalued by society. To pursue music, writing, or any kind of art, you have to push through being told it's "one in a million" and you won't be the one to win. She continues by taking it to a brighter spot of self assurance where she doesn't need the external validation to go forward with what she wants. "I let the music lead the way / So I can show you who I am / I put my headphones on and I play my song," she concludes at the end of the chorus.
I love this premise of feeling okay when you have your headphones on and escape into your own little world. Putting in earbuds and blocking everything out has been one of my coping mechanisms since my dad was passing me his iPod and earbuds to loop my favorite song as a little kid. The soothing power of music is incredibly powerful and encouraging through the rough patches of life. "Headphones" makes for a great anthem on chasing your dreams, even if you have to be your only cheerleader.
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