Line By Line Song Analysis of “First Love/ Late Spring” by Mitski off of her 2014 album, Bury Me At Makeout Creek
Photo by Abbey Steinman
“First Love/ Late Spring” by Mitski is exactly what it sounds like. It captures what it’s like to fall in love for the first time. This experience isn’t just about sunshine bursting out of you while birds chip their gleeful songs, but rather, it’s also an unpleasant emotion that is filled with uncertainty. Mitski reveals how in denial she’s become because the idea of having a first love means it’s real. These feelings are real. Her first love goes over her head because it’s something she’ll become lost in, and she isn’t ready to pay the consequences that follow it when-or if- it’s over.
Now, this first love isn’t just like any first love, or one you think it might be. Mitski talks about how fearsome it is to be in love for the first time. She can’t admit her feelings no matter how badly she wants to. These feelings are unknown to her, and she doesn’t know how to face it nor accept it. Hence, this is where her kid comparison best reflects her reactions to the situation.
In lines such as, “Lately I’ve been crying like a /Tall child,” and, “And I was so young/ When I behaved/ Twenty-five/ Yet now I find/ I’ve grown into/ A tall/ Child,” by all means displays how Mitski can’t help herself for not acting like a grown-up in this situation. Based on how long she’s lived, she figured she’d be mature enough to think this through, but she can’t.
Her emotions continue to go down a never-ending spiral because she’s still impulsive, doubtful, and needs reassurance. If anything, she’s disguised as an older woman with a child-like behavior. With that being said, this person drives her insane since they’ve put her in a situation she doesn’t have any form of control in. It drives her berserk. It causes her to act childish because it’s the only way she knows how to react. She still hasn’t grown up and can’t fathom a relationship that’s far more than just a platonic one.
When she effortlessly sings, “The black hole/ of the/ Window/ Where you sleep,” she’s saying she’s sucked in, and she can’t get out. She knows herself, but she continuously pursues her foolish and immature behavior because she can’t admit what’s in front of her. Mitski’s wrapped around this person’s finger, and there’s no escape. The future consequences this love is bound to bring is unknown territory she’s not willing to explore. The idea of being content and happy with her lover consumes her easily; however, once she gives in and portrays it as an ordeal, she can’t turn back. It’s too late. So, when her stomach begins to feel queasy, it’s within her instinct to run away. She’s left herself with this option and this option only.
As the night breeze flows through her, there’s something within the air that changes their current atmosphere. It, “Carries/ Something sweet/ A peach tree,” causing the night to be none other than bittersweet. These lyrics display how she’s still embracing this moment. It’s as if she’s blushing with the world around her before she becomes nauseous.
When the chorus makes its way, this feeling goes away as she remembers what she’s faced with. “So please hurry leave me/ I can’t breathe/ Please don’t say you love me/ 胸がはち切れそうで,” reveals how she wants to remain in denial. Mitski wants to prevent this love from occurring at all costs because once she hears those three words, her chest will be bursting uncontrollably.
Not only will this love crush her mentally, but it also will crush her physically. A rush will run through her faster than she could blink. Mitski can’t see or feel that someone loves her, so she denies everything that comes close to that feeling. Grasping that concept is foreign to her.
Mitski knows the tension’s out there in the open but doesn’t want to acknowledge it any further for several reasons. This new feeling isn’t just a fantasy, it’s something she’ll have to take care of and allow for it to grow. Except, she’s not ready for that. Mitski is frightened by the number of responsibilities it takes to pursue a romance, let alone her first one.
While she effortlessly renders, “One word from you and I would/ Jump off this/ Ledge I’m on/ Baby,” it’s here we learn Mitski feels the same about her admirer. Those three words will make her do crazy, crazy things; however, these crazy things consist of her dodging the love confession.
Even though she’s aware her feelings are true, she can’t bear to handle the uncertainty this love will conduct. By her potential lover taking the initiative instead of her, her fight-or-flight responses activate. This causes certain emotions to arise within her to do things and feel things she couldn’t have done alone. To be exact, that’s how much power this person has over her, and she’s aware of it.
Yet, as the post-chorus arrives, Mitski once again says one thing while meaning another. “Tell me ‘don’t’/ So I can/ Crawl back in,” is the perfect example of it. Mitski tells her lover she wants to depart, but in reality, she wants to stay. Her emotions are scattered, and this ties back into her comparison of a child. She’s messy in other words.
As for the bridge, it further displays how back and forth she is. We witness the aftermath of the love confession and her reflection. “And I don’t wanna go home yet/ Let me walk to the top of the big night sky,” shows her embracing this infinite emotion.
Even though she doesn’t want to discover this new feeling, a part of her does. Perhaps it’s calling her name, and it’s all too thrilling to ignore it furthermore. It’s too late to go back; she’s already here. This is where the night breeze brings the bliss of the sweet peach trees. Something that was terrifying for her also made her feel tender.
However, this euphoric sensation ends the minute she’s brought back to reality. When the moment hits her, she immediately regrets it. She was vulnerable, and she despises herself for it. Mitski can’t control herself, she’s no longer sane, nor can she be responsible for the change in events.
With that all being said, “First Love/ Late Spring” puts the butterflies that flutter within Mitski’s stomach into words, words that we can indulge. She allows us to endure the emotions that struck her within under five minutes. Suddenly, the idea of having a first love isn’t so pleasant as it once seemed. Yet, only Mitski can turn something that is meant to be extraordinarily tender into something ever so heart-wrenching.