Album - Noah Kahan - Stick Season (Forever)
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‘Forever’ by Noah Kahan - Lyrics & Meaning

February 9, 2024 6:05 pm GMT

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Noah Kahan - ‘Forever’

Label: Mercury Records & Republic Records

Release Date: February 9th, 2024

Album: Stick Season (Forever)

Producers: Gabe Simon & Noah Kahan

Songwriters: Noah Kahan & Gabe Simon

The Background:

After many of Noah Kahan's now-trademark teasers and cryptic hints, the ‘She Calls Me Back’ hitmaker has at along last gifted fans the song they've all been waiting for - ‘Forever’.

Noah shared a snippet of the warm-hearted, rose-tinted track back in October 2023, with fans immediately clamouring for him to give ‘Forever’ an official release.

However, in the proceeding months, Noah Kahan's attention was taken up by his hugely popular series of Stick Season collaborations, which have brought Noah together with artists such as Post Malone, Hozier, Kacey Musgraves for high-profile duets.

Thankfully, though, alongside the announcement of Noah Kahan's final two Stick Season collaborations with Brandi Carlile (‘You're Gonna Go Far’) and Gregory Alan Isakov (‘Paul Revere’), the bearded crooner confirmed he'd also be making ‘Forever’ available as part of his 2024 Stick Season (Forever) project in February.

The Sound:

’Forever’ serves as a masterclass in navigating the rises and falls of a song in order to deliver maximum emotional impact, with Noah Kahan opening the song with an intricate, drawn-in vocal accompanied only by a soft, hesitant acoustic guitar.

Noah Kahan layers his vocals towards the latter part of the introduction in a style that feels reminiscent of folk titan, Bon Iver. This helps to give Noah's distinctive voice an ethereal quality, before he cuts through the haze with a clearer, more lucid delivery as the song gets fully underway and the energising beat is introduced.

As Noah grows in confidence and assurance throughout the track, the instrumentation builds in tandem with this, as atmospheric drums and uplifting guitar riffs enter the fray.

Given how Noah has described ’Forever’ as encapsulating his evolving feelings towards his home-town, it feels fitting that he concludes the song with a return to the hauntingly sparse vocal and lyrics of the introduction. This makes the track feel cyclical, and if you play ‘Forever’ on repeat, each listen flows seamlessly into the next, ensuring the track embodies the theme of infinity that lies at its heart.

The Meaning:

“Let’s drive for no reason
Let’s see where these wheels land
Let’s grind down the curve of this earth
You look fine in the evening
And honey, it’s starting to storm
When we kissed in the car in the school parking lot
Where I’d go with my friends to get drunk
Used to wish I meant anything, to anywhere, to anyone”

Although the specifics of ‘Forever’ remain open to interpretation, Noah Kahan begins by painting a vivid scene of him going for a drive with his love, before taking the listener on a flashback to a time when he felt much less hopeful about the future.

He cleverly uses the imagery of the tires on the tarmac as a metaphor for the feeling of just letting the future arrive whenever it's meant to arrive, rather than rushing things.

After expressing his love for his partner, his mind wanders back to his younger years, when he'd desperately search for a connection and a sense of being ‘wanted’ by somebody else.

Having found exactly that in his current relationship, he looks back on those times with an overwhelming feeling of peace and warmth, now that he knows it all turns out just fine.

As a result, ‘Forever’ can be interpreted as Noah singing to his former self, as he attempts to show them that everything will work out, and that he doesn't need to worry about the future.

“When forever was a sentence, sentence to death
Oh, when you were a running tear, I was a drop of sweat
And the edges of your soul, I haven't seen yet
Now I’m glad I get forever to see where you end”

In the pre-chorus, Noah Kahan evocatively recalls how he'd view the concept of infinity as a ‘sentence to death’, as he'd fret about the prospect of an eternity spent flitting between apathy and anxiety. Now that he's in the throes of love, his eyes have been opened to the rays of hope and sunshine that waits for him on the horizon.

The poetic ‘running tear’ and ‘drop of sweat’ lyric is somewhat enigmatic, but it seemingly finds Noah romanticising his lover as a serene teardrop, while he describes himself as an angsty bubble of perspiration. He compares this depiction to his current outlook, where he feels excited about the prospect of seeing his partner's story unfurl.

“I won’t be alone for the rest of my life
I’ll build a boat for when the river gets high
And I’ll meet a girl in the heat of July
And I’ll tell her so she knows
That I’m broke
But I’m real rich in my head
That I broke a bone
That never healed in my hand
So when I hold her close
I might loosen my grip
But I won't ever let her go
I won't ever let her go”

Throughout the hook, Noah Kahan constructs a flurry of joyful images, all of which portray his sense of burgeoning optimism, as he underlines that he no longer fears the future.

The endearing chorus concludes with the lovestruck promise to never let his lover go, which flips the earlier, sceptical notion of infinity that Noah conveys completely on its head.

“Remember when we called the cops?
Cause we got too high
And you got scared
And the cops just laughed
We can't make rent
So we window shop
In the upper west side
Oh my god
Could you imagine that”

Later in the song, Noah Kahan returns to the mood of nostalgia he's become known for with hits such as ’Stick Season’, ‘You're Gonna Go Far’ and ‘Homesick’.

He guides the listener through a slew of fond memories from when his relationship was in its early stages, with the final line, ‘Oh my god / Could you imagine that’, interestingly framing the recollections as though they're future hypotheticals. This could be seen as Noah imagining himself standing at the end of his story with his lover, looking back on all the good times they enjoyed over the years.

What has Noah Kahan said about ‘Forever’?

Upon its release, the Vermont singer-songwriter reflected on what the title ‘Forever’ means to him, “Forever is a long time. This album cycle has felt like forever, and I’ve loved every second of it. I have loved living in this world. I have never felt more comfortable in my own skin, more proud of what I was representing in my songwriting, and more vindicated by the response to a record that was really an extension of my soul. When I sat down to write ‘Forever’ with Gabe Simon, I didn’t know I would be sealing off the album with it”.

Noah revealed that, initially, he viewed ‘Forever’ as distinct from Stick Season, “I thought it might just be a nice standalone single, but as I listened to the story, I realized I was writing about perspective. The idea that a place can remain the exact same physically but becomes totally different as our lives and our experiences change. The word ‘forever’ used to terrify me. I hate finality, there is too much uncertainty and boredom affiliated with ‘the rest of time.’ Now though, I’ve found forever to mean there is limitless possibility. There is so much joy in the world, waiting to be found. That is something that Stick Season has shown me, that this year has shown me. Sometimes it just takes a change in perspective”.

Kahan concluded with a message addressed directly to his loyal fanbase, “I hope you enjoy these songs, I hope they continue to find you in the times you most need them, like they did for me. I do not know what is next, but I’m glad I get forever to find it”.

For the full lyrics to Noah Kahan's ‘Forever', see below:

“Let’s drive for no reason
Let’s see where these wheels land
Let’s grind down the curve of this earth
You look fine in the evening
And honey, it’s starting to storm
When we kissed in the car in the school parking lot
Where I’d go with my friends to get drunk
Used to wish I meant anything, to anywhere, to anyone

When forever was a sentence, sentence to death
Oh, when you were a running tear, I was a drop of sweat
And the edges of your soul, I haven't seen yet
Now I’m glad I get forever to see where you end

I won’t be alone for the rest of my life
I’ll build a boat for when the river gets high
And I’ll meet a girl in the heat of July
And I’ll tell her so she knows
That I’m broke
But I’m real rich in my head
That I broke a bone
That never healed in my hand
So when I hold her close
I might loosen my grip
But I won't ever let her go
I won't ever let her go

Remember when we called the cops?
Cause we got too high
And you got scared
And the cops just laughed
We can't make rent
So we window shop
In the upper west side
Oh my god
Could you imagine that

Won’t be alone for the rest of my life
I’ll build a boat for when the river gets high
And I’ll meet a girl in the heat of July
And I’ll tell her so she knows
That I’m broke
But I’m real rich in my head
That I broke a bone
That never healed in my hand
So when I hold her close
I might loosen my grip
But I won't ever let her go
I won't ever let her go

When forever was a sentence, sentence to death
Oh, when you were a running tear, I was a drop of sweat
And the edges of your soul I haven't seen yet
Now I'm glad I get forever to see where you end
To see where you end”

For more on Noah Kahan, see below:

Written by Maxim Mower
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