In The Garden: From Flowers to a Jungle

The official cover art for Red Vox’s single

« In The Garden » is a song by the band Red Vox. It was released on several music-streaming platforms in March of 2017 as a sneak-peek of what was to come in their following album, « Another Light, » which would go on to release in December of that year. The band itself isn’t exactly known for spreading environmental messages through their music, but this plant-centric song proves you can really make a story out of anything. In this song, plant-related themes and phenomena are used as storytelling devices, and boy does this song tell a story. It’s about someone with social anxiety and self-esteem issues. Allow me to tell you about it in great detail!

« Made myself a little garden
To grow myself my only friends
Got myself a brand new start, and
Oh no, I screwed it up again
Guess I’m stayin’ up all night
In my mind, but out of sight »

When first listening to « In The Garden, » one thing is clear: it’s a bop, but it’s not a happy song. Right out of the gate, it establishes a character who is clearly riddled with anxiety. They use this « garden » as a metaphor for their immediate environment. They’re making friends, which would be the plants that make up the garden, but immediately push them away somehow. We can tell this had long-lasting impacts on their mentality, « In my mind, but out of sight, » referring to the fact that their mistakes are invading their every thought. So far, it would be a stretch to make solid comparisons between the song and the environment. All we have for that are the terms « garden » and « grow, » so rather than look over every verse, I’ll provide a brief summary of the story until a specific part I’d like to discuss.

Throughout the song, our character is established to have lots of issues with their perception of themself and others. This person assumes the worst in their friends when they refer to their garden as having turned into a « plot of weeds, » weeds being generally regarded as invasive and unwanted, it’s clear this person no longer wants much to do with their new friends. They also dislike confrontation and redirect blame on others when they wonder what pushes their friends away. They’re conscious of this, too, but keep it all bottled up. This is the song’s main theme, the subject of bottling your emotions, and how it ultimately causes your garden to turn wild. This gets personified using a monster who’s « taking root in the property ». They’re allowing their feelings to accumulate and this has created a monster that feeds off of their negative cognitions. The character’s unhealthy thoughts are snowballing thanks to his prejudices, causing the social issues to persist.

« There’s a jungle
It’s as far as the eye can see
Overgrown now
It’s no longer a fantasy »

After some more negative remarks about his friends, it’s stated that the garden has evolved into a jungle. This is where I go full Nature Mode. Obviously, we can make the obvious connection that OBVIOUSLY, jungles are crazy and hectic. Metaphor solved. Except we can go deeper than that. Like, we can go eco-system deep. And you know me, I love my eco-systems!

“How to Build a Rainforest.” Global Forest Watch, 2020, blog.globalforestwatch.org/data-and-research/tropical-rainforest-ecology-and-threats/.

The image above depicts the four layers of a rainforest. On the surface, that’s where the sunlight hits the trees. Up there, you might find yourself some toucans or some monkeys, it’s really great! However, the deeper you go, the grittier it gets. At the bottom, you’ve got the scavengers, the insects, the fungi, the microorganisms, and snakes! I feel like our character is stuck at the bottom layer of the situation. They can’t overcome the prejudice and are only able to see their colleagues as bottom-feeders who dwell at the bottom of the social hierarchy. Ironically enough, the song’s protagonist fits pretty well at the bottom. We can draw links between the insects who hunt for fallen leaves and the person who’s desperately searching for any reason not to confront others or their own flaws. We can also connect the overwhelming humidity in the jungle to the character’s insanely clouded judgment.

Finally, the song ends on a sour note stating « It’s no longer a fantasy, » meaning the person’s mental state has gotten so bad it has disrupted the real-life connections they had once had with their friends. They’re now all as distant as they were once only perceived to be. In the end, the protagonist’s emotions consume him and are beginning to have real-life repercussions. Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoyed my take on the song. Hopefully, it makes sense or resonates with you!

RESOURCES

« In The Garden » by Red Vox on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/track/0U9kLXtOvLe05HACNIitpc?si=994bcd9e30fa4c5a

Ruiz, S. R. (2020, October 12). How Rainforests are Formed, and How They are Being Destroyed. Global Forest Watch. https://blog.globalforestwatch.org/data-and-research/tropical-rainforest-ecology-and-threats/.

2 réflexions au sujet de “In The Garden: From Flowers to a Jungle”

  1. Hi Rémy,
    I found your blog to be really fascinating and I really enjoyed reading it and understanding your perspective and thoughts on this song. I had never listened to this song or heard of this band but you’ve written this blog in such a way that it made me really interested in them and want to give them a listen. The way you correlated and tied the lyric’s meaning behind anxiety to how the environment and jungle ecosystems function, was really deep and I found it really intriguing and interesting to say the least. Your blog really made me think critically about the music I listen to and made me want to find deeper meanings in some lyrics even if it doesn’t really exist lol.
    But after reading this blog, I’m left with this question :
    Do you think that the reason the song ended in such a sour note, telling us that the main character’s mentality has gone so down hill that he might not even recover from it anymore, was to reference our planet. As in : we have caused our planet to deteriorate so much that there might not be a recovery.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Danny. I appreciate you taking a look at my blog and leaving a little appreciation. While I was able to make a connection between the ecosystem and the song’s messages,
      I doubt the lyrics were trying to convey an environmental message.

      Red Vox tends to tell stories about characters going through situations such as social anxiety, grieving over the death of a loved one, and even the mundane, like a kid who’s getting tired of school. Some songs have themes for their metaphors, some don’t have many metaphors at all. « In The Garden » is the first song in which they used vegetation and environmental themes to base their analogies. If I were to guess, they were just having fun writing plant-based lines, I don’t think the ecological meanings I pulled from the song were intended. The jungle part could have easily been a metaphor for how chaotic those ecosystems are, which is fine.

      However, while it may not be preferred by certain song-writers, pulling your own meaning from music makes up a lot of the fun of listening! Depending on Red Vox’s intentions, any meaning may be valid. I think my interpretation was logical enough for the ecosystem-related connections to be valid. However, I don’t think the song is inherently about the health of the planet.

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