“Say What You Will” by James Blake

The verses of James Blake’s “Say What You Will”, which are highly metaphor-dependent, can be difficult to understand, in terms of trying to piece together what this track is actually about. But in that regard, the chorus is a bit more revealing. For therein, the vocalist expresses a type of resignation in terms of considering what other people think of him. 

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for James Blake's Say What You Will at Lyrics.org.

You can “say what you will”

Or put differently, he’s not caught in what others may say about him personally, as he’s aware that they’re going to gossip, so to speak, regardless. And that is what is meant by the titular expression “say what you will”, as in the vocalist perceiving confronting such matters as an act of futility.

James talks about the song

But now going back to the verses as well as the theme of the music video, what this song is actually about, according to James Blake, is the narrator espousing an ideology of self-acceptance. 

James Blake explains "Say What You Will"

This idea kinda comes through at the beginning of the second verse, where he points out his ability to make it in life despite having “no superpowers” at his disposal. But overall, once again taking the chorus into consideration, the idea this song is meant to relay, as a premise, is that people are going to talk junk regardless. 

So the best thing to do, instead of paying attention to such negativity, is to rather search for your own inner peace. And part and parcel of achieving said goal, within this context, is not comparing yourself to others.

Indeed the vocalist knows how it feels to be “normal”, as in accepted, as well as “ostracized”, as in being labeled and/or feeling like an outcast. And to him, it’s all the same. In other words, at the end of the day, what truly matters, as presented, is how you feel internally and being able to hold yourself down.

James Blake, "Say What You Will" Lyrics

Facts about “”Say What You Will”

On 22 July 2021, UMG, Republic Records and Polydor Records issued this track. It is derived from “Friends That Break Your Heart”, i.e. James Blake’s fifth full-length album. And apparently “Say What You Will” is said project’s lead single, even though it was not explicitly announced as such.

The music video to “Say What You Will” stars Finneas, aka Billie Eilish’s big brother, a musician in his own right, whom Blake had expressed admiration for in times past. 

However, Finneas did not actual contribute to the composition of the song. Instead Blake co-wrote and co-produced it, as did Josh Stadlen and Dominic Maker. And Jameela Jamil served as an additional producer.

Say What You Will

James Blake is a singer/instrumentalist from London who has been professionally active since 2009. And, currently being 32 years old, he did experience some notable success during the 2010s. For instance, his 2013 track Retrograde won an Ivor Novello Award for Best Contemporary Song the following year. 

And in 2019 he actually took home a Best Rap Performance Grammy for his participation on King’s Dead, a tune derived from the soundtrack to the MCU’s Black Panther film.

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