Artist; Mumford and Sons
Song; The Cave
Album; Sigh No More
Genre; Folk, Indie
Highlights; Intellectual lyrics, Unique folk sound, Pleasing melody
Favorite Lyric; “So come out of your cave walking on your hands, And see the world hanging upside down, You can understand dependence, When you know the maker’s land.”
Mumford and Sons made a huge impact on the industry with their unique debut album, “Sigh No More.” It’s easy to see why. Few acts have managed to create a sound as unique and distinct as theirs while still managing to capture the interest of the mainstream.
Their debut single, “Little Lion Man” was nothing short of a masterpiece as far as I’m concerned, and the album’s follow up single, “The Cave” is a worthy second single. That’s why its today’s song of the day. By now, everyone knows why “The Cave” is such a good song, so rather than talk about its musical merits, I’d like to talk about something else.
Being and English major, the one thing that I love about Mumford and Sons most of all is their tendency to make literary references in their lyrics. While most people would assume that “The Cave” is a reference to Plato’s Allegory of The Cave, I would argue against such a superficial interpretation. Yes, you can make that argument, and the lyrics could be interpreted to support it, but it seems to me to be undermining the creative ability of the band.
There are some definite references to “The Odyssey,” even those beyond the direct references to the “Siren’s song.” The song makes references to “Widows and Orphans,” which are exactly what Penelope and Telemachus were during Odysseus’s absence. Similarly, there was also the instance with the cyclopes, Polyphemus, who held Odysseus captive in his cave. Furthermore, if I remember correctly, Odysseus was indeed tied to his ship’s post once his crew mutinied. The Odyssey contains many themes which are also present in this song; the journey to self, the search for truth, returning home…there are many instances in which the song and the epic intersect one another.
Also, after doing some digging it appears that there are some direct religious references as well. The group’s vocalist is apparently a huge fan of the philosophy of St. Fracis of Asisi. As such, the song is pretty much taken directly from the biography of St. Fancis. This biography contains a passage about “Seeing the world upside down,” as if he had just “Come out of a cave walking on his hands.” Coincidence?
There are many ways in which to interpret this song, and for that, I am grateful. There’s something beautiful about a song that elicits intellectual discussion on internet message boards. In doing what can only loosely be called “research,” I’ve seen so much intelligent discussion of opinions and interpretations! Thank god for Mumford and Sons…bringing intellect back to music.