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What’s in a Song? The Power of Silence

Is twenty one pilots’ “Car Radio” really about the frustration a life without music would bring? Or is there more to the song?


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Some people can’t handle silence, and for others silence is a Heaven-sent reprieve from a hectic life.

Twenty one pilots is an alt-pop-rock musical duo, consisting of members Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun, who released their album, “Vessel” with independent record label Fueled by Ramen in 2013.

On the album is a single, “Car Radio,” which contemplates the meaning of silence.

The beginning of the song doesn’t make a whole lot of sense immediately.

“I ponder of something great / My lungs will fill and then deflate / They fill with fire / Exhale desire / I know it’s dire / My time today,” the song begins.

However, the chorus sheds light on the issue the singer seems stressed about.

It turns out his car radio has been stolen and now he “just sits in silence.”

This doesn’t seem like a big deal, but the singer has a different view of silence; he has an important and vital opinion on silence.

“I’m forced to deal with what I feel / There is no distraction to mask what is real,” Tyler sings.

This is probably the most important part of this song.

Is Tyler right? Is music or noise masking issues that we refuse to see or deal with?

It is not uncommon to walk around the Missouri Baptist University campus, or around St. Louis, or in fact anywhere and see people with headphones jammed in or on their ears.

This could be seen as rude, but besides that point, is music more important than the goings-on around people?

Do people take those ear buds out and start a conversation?

Music is beautiful and wonderful, yet it could be causing people to ignore issues that silence resurrects.

When the air becomes silent, do you speak or turn the TV or music on?

When the air is silent, there is room for thoughts to speak and become real.

Thoughts become loud and hard to ignore.

Twenty one pilots make an interesting point about what happens when there is silence.

“Faith is to be awake / And to be awake is for us to think / And for us to think is to be alive / And I will try with every rhyme / To come across like I am dying / To let you know you need to try to think,” the song relates.

The point “Car Radio” is trying to reveal is that silence gives us an opportunity to think and when we try to get rid of silence, perhaps we are trying to avoid thinking about life, issues and ourselves.

We need to think and learn and thrive. “Car Radio” turns this message into an upbeat song that inspires one to contemplate silence and what it means.

It’s rather ironic that twenty one pilots seem to be telling us to turn off the radio, through the medium of radio, but without this song would someone really consider the issue of silence?

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Victoria Scheibe

Victoria Scheibe

Victoria Scheibe is a former staff journalist and editor for MBU Timeline. She has graduated and now works in Graduate Admissions at MBU. Her degree is in English, with a minor in journalism and a writing certificate. While a student at MBU, she was the vice president for Sigma Tau Delta, the English Honor Society, and spent four months at Oxford University.

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