By: Gabriela Yareliz
The Earth is in constant movement, causing seasons to come and go. There are times when the heart gets buried in snow. Today, we’ve got another ballad from Gwen Stefani’s Sweet Escape album: “Early Winter.” If you thought “4 in the Morning” was heartbreaking, here’s one to top it. Included in the same album, we see a Stefani who, while private with her personal life, is still using her music to pour out her emotions. As mentioned before, she was married for years to Gavin Rossdale, a real idiot if there ever was one. Rossdale disrespected her and their relationship with many lies and liaisons over the years.
The song begins with some sort of event that has caused a substantial crash in the relationship. Whatever it was caused more than a dent, evidenced by the lyrics: “You, you know how to get me so low; My heart had a crash when we spoke– I can’t fix what you broke.” She emphasizes that she is feeling something she has felt over and over again.
Stefani, in this song, plays with the concepts of hot and cold again (we looked at “Cool“), and she also focuses on the parallel between the seasons in a relationship and the actual seasons we experience due to the Earth’s movement and tilt. Relationships are dynamic. They have highs and lows, and things shift as life speeds onward. The relationship she is singing about in this song has no sunshine. She sings, “It hurts, and I can’t remember sunlight.” She mentions that the leaves are changing. Winter is a season of deep cold, darkness and death. Stefani sings that it’s cold and snowing. Maybe, she also feels that just as winter is dormant, something in her heart is numb. (You know that feeling when your fingers are so cold they are stiff– the heart can feel that way, too).
The verses that I find to be so key in this song are the following:
It’s sad the map of the world is on you
The moon gravitates around you
The seasons escape you
Stefani sings that her counterpart is a self-centered person– the moon gravitates around that person, which also implies that there is a lot of darkness involved. The moon is revealed to us at night, has no light of its own, and it’s also something that is ever changing to us, as we see different sides of it illuminated. Then, she states that the seasons escape this person. Just as in “4 in the Morning,” Stefani reveals herself to be the one crying and suffering, alone. It’s like she is the only one awake or looking out the window. She feels how the relationship is dying while this other person feels nothing and is so far gone, they don’t perceive the shifts. And take it from someone who experiences all four literal seasons– there is a big difference from summer to winter. Having been slammed with inches of snow in the past few weeks, winter is something that is obviously felt and not subtle. The fact that the seasons escape this other person’s world is quite the statement.
Self-centered people are like this, though. It’s the person making decisions to serve him/herself not keeping others in consideration; he/she is constantly giving excuses or justifications or as Stefani sings, “you always have a reason.” It’s almost like this person is blind. There is no way to make him/her see what is obviously in front of him/her. Just like when you are trapped in a bad snow storm– visibility is zero.
In the bridge, Stefani is very direct and asks bluntly, “Why? Why do you act so stupid?” The language in the question is a big contrast to the glamorous gowns and gold palace Stefani seems to be singing and crying in. “Early Winter” is a song that will be felt deeply by anyone who has experienced pain as a result of someone else’s poor decisions and/or lies. It’s about a low point she is not sure there is any coming back from.
Eventually, the anguish of dealing with lies and a broken relationship lead to a silent stillness– death of the relationship. Thankfully, the icy winters work to preserve something, so that when spring breaks forth, a new beginning can emerge.
If you have seen the leaves start to fall in your own relationship– this one goes out to you. Remember, after every winter, spring is sure to come.