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‘Paul Revere’ by Noah Kahan & Gregory Alan Isakov - Lyrics & Meaning

February 9, 2024 12:56 pm GMT

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Noah Kahan & Gregory Alan Isakov - ‘Paul Revere’

Label: Mercury Records & Republic Records

Release Date: February 9th, 2024

Album: Stick Season (Forever)

Producers: Gabe Simon & Noah Kahan

Songwriter: Noah Kahan

The Background:

Those who enjoyed Noah Kahan’s 2022 record, Stick Season, and the deluxe 2023 We'll All Be Here Forever project, have been keenly awaiting Stick Season (Forever), the third iteration of his fan favorite album that officially hit all music streaming platforms on February 9 2024. The revamped version adds three new and improved tracks: ‘Forever’, ‘You’re Gonna Go Far’ with Brandi Carlile, and ‘Paul Revere’ with Gregory Alan Isakov, along with all Kahan's previously released Stick Season duets.

On January 24, the Vermont native took to social media to announce Stick Season (Forever), as well as these three new tunes that were to come with it. In typical Noah Kahan fashion, he dropped a cryptic teaser that revealed that ‘You’re Gonna Go Far’ and ‘Paul Revere’ would feature some very special guests, but instead of revealing their identities, he shared the number of letters in each artist's name.

Because of the uniqueness of his name, fans almost instantaneously came to the conclusion that ‘Paul Revere’ would feature Gregory Alan Isakov – someone who Noah Kahan has admitted on numerous occasions that he is a huge fan of – with Kahan confirming this theory was correct via social media on January 29.

‘You’re Gonna Go Far’ featuring Brandi Carlile and ‘Paul Revere’ featuring Gregory Alan Isakov mark the final two Stick Season collaborations for Noah Kahan, having released ‘Dial Drunk’ with Post Malone, ‘Call Your Mom’ with Lizzy McAlpine, ‘She Calls Me Back’ with Kacey Musgraves, ‘Northern Attitude’ with Hozier, ‘Everywhere, Everything’ with Gracie Abrams, and ‘Homesick’ with Sam Fender.

While all eight collaborations are truly 10 out of 10s, the new rendition of ‘Paul Revere’ featuring Gregory Alan Isakov undoubtedly feels extra special, with many fans championing this as the best collaboration to come from Noah Kahan in his career thus far.

The Sound:

‘Paul Revere’ was already a fan-favorite, but Gregory Alan Isakov’s haunting, ethereal vocals make the sparse track even more evocative, adding another layer to the much-loved tune, all while complementing Noah Kahan's distinctive croons.

Starting out with the chilling strum of an acoustic, atmospheric guitar, Kahan opens the first verse with his signature voice, alternating lines with Isakov then harmonizing together in the chorus. The roles reverse shortly afterwards, with Isakov kicking off the second verse, which gathers in force as they approach the final chorus.

The intrigue with ‘Paul Revere’ is that it starts out rather stripped down, and builds out as the song progresses, before then returning to its stripped down nature during the outro. Adding a new voice to the track helps to accentuate the ebbs and flows of the track, enhancing the overall intensity of the song with harmonies upon harmonies.

The Meaning:

“County line, I'm countin' down
Mailboxes until my house
This place had a heartbeat in its day
Vail bought the mountains and nothin' was the same
Yes, the boys are drunk, the sun is high
Their license plates, "Live Free or Die"
But it just ain't that simple, it never was
We'll drink to New Year's, then they'll leave me to clean up”

Kahan starts by detailing his road trip back to his hometown of Strafford, Vermont, staring at the "Live Free or Die" phrase that's written on every single New Hampshire license plate, a neighboring state. Within this opening verse, the narrator is seen struggling with the idea of his hometown and how it has changed, admitting that while things can sometimes be great – such as when “the boys are drunk” and “the sun is high” – he is often left to pick up the pieces, as detailed in the final line.

“One day I'm gonna cut it clear
Ride like Paul Revere
And when they ask me who I am
I'll say “I'm not from around here””

In the chorus, Kahan makes a reference to the Revolutionary War with “Ride like Paul Revere,” an individual who had to ride his horse as fast as he could from Boston to Lexington in 1775 to alert John Hancock and Samuel Adams that the Redcoats were coming for them. In the first two lines, the narrator is implying that one day he will get far away from his hometown as fast as he can, much like Paul Revere did. This is reinforced by the last two lines, where he confirms that he will be a brand new resident wherever he ends up, explicitly stating, “I'm not from around here”.

“I'll leave before the road crew's out
Before those joggers lookin' way too proud
And I'll turn up the music, and I'll forget
Until it ends, that I'm not ready to let go yet”

Isakov kicks off the second verse, explaining how the narrator of the track wants to leave his hometown without being seen, specifically referring to those driving on the roads and those running on the sidewalk. In the two lines to follow, he details that he wants to listen to loud music while taking this massive leap, all with the hope of blocking out the realities of leaving his hometown once and for all.

“One day I'm gonna cut it clear
Ride like Paul Revere
And when they ask me who I am
I'll just pretend I didn't hear
It's typical, I fear
Folks just disappear
And when they ask me who I am
I'll say “I'm not from around here””

Here, Kahan and Isakov repeat the same chorus as they sang previously, adding “It's typical, I fear / Folks just disappear” in the middle, ultimately introducing a negative twist to the tune. In the first chorus, the narrator appears to be seeking freedom – eager to leave his hometown and start a new life elsewhere – but these additional lines in the second chorus hint at his worry that when he returns, his loved ones will have forgotten about him, making him a stranger in his own home. It's an interesting inversion of ‘You're Gonna Go Far’, with Kahan switching perspectives and stepping into the shoes of the departing lover on ‘Paul Revere’.

“I'll say “I'm not from around here””

The idea of becoming a stranger in his own hometown is reinforced in the post-chorus, with Kahan repeating “I'll say ‘I'm not from around here.’”

“But I'm in my car and I see the yard
The patch of grass where we buried the dog
And the world makes sense behind a chain-link fence
If I could leave, I would've already left
But I'm in my car and I see the yard
And the patch of grass where we buried the dog
And the world makes sense behind a chain-link fence
If I could leave, I would've already left
I would've already left”

In the outro, we see Noah Kahan completely reverse his mentality in a dramatic twist, beginning the track eager to leave his hometown once and for all, but ending the song by outlining his second thoughts about the decision. While in his car – getting ready to drive away for good – the narrator begins to reminisce on memories anchoring him to his home, such as where his dog was buried. To follow, he sings “the world makes sense behind a chain-link fence,” ultimately insinuating that although he is guarded in his hometown, “the world makes sense” nonetheless.

Because the song ends like this, the story seemingly comes to a close, implying that the narrator has backed out on his decision to leave, staying in his hometown after all.

What has Noah Kahan said about ‘Paul Revere’?

To accompany the official announcement that Gregory Alan Isakov would be serving as a collaborator on ‘Paul Revere’, Kahan took to X (formerly Twitter), on January 29 to share just how excited he was to have Gregory join him on the track.

“Justice is served. Thrilled to announce a very special version of Paul Revere with one of my personal heroes...Gregory and his haunting voice and vivid songwriting was the inspiration to this song and I am honored he was willing to join me for this. He is somebody who has soundtracked my entire life so it truly feels like a full circle moment. Thank you Gregory for your gift and thank you for bringing it to this song,” he gushed.

Upon the release of Stick Season (Forever), the 27-year-old emphasised his mixed emotions about the project, “I am excited and kind of sad to be releasing ‘Forever,’ alongside these two dream collaborations with Brandi Carlile and Gregory Alan Isakov. Firstly, I’m grateful and beyond proud to be sharing these two songs with artists that have soundtracked my entire life. Gregory and Brandi have written songs that have carried me through pain, loneliness, dramatic life changes, and the entirety of my career. I am so honored to have them on this final re-release.”

Deeming Brandi Carlile and Gregory Alan Isakov as his “two dream collaborations,” fans will be wondering just one thing: Where does Noah Kahan go from here?

On the red carpet at the 66th Annual GRAMMY Awards, the Vermont singer-songwriter admitted to CMT that he would love to work with country artists such as Colter Wall and Tyler Childers, so hopefully these collaborations will still come to fruition now that the Stick Season chapter of Kahan's career has come to a close.

For the full lyrics to Noah Kahan and Gregory Alan Isakov's ‘Paul Revere', see below:

[Verse 1]
“County line, I'm countin' down
Mailboxes until my house
This place had a heartbeat in its day
Vail bought the mountains and nothin' was the same
Yes, the boys are drunk, the sun is high
Their license plates, "Live Free or Die"
But it just ain't that simple, it never was
We'll drink to New Year's, then they'll leave me to clean up

[Chorus]
One day I'm gonna cut it clear
Ride like Paul Revere
And when they ask me who I am
I'll say “I'm not from around here”

[Verse 2]
I'll leave before the road crew's out
Before those joggers lookin' way too proud
And I'll turn up the music, and I'll forget
Until it ends, that I'm not ready to let go yet

[Chorus]
One day I'm gonna cut it clear
Ride like Paul Revere
And when they ask me who I am
I'll just pretend I didn't hear
It's typical, I fear
Folks just disappear
And when they ask me who I am
I'll say “I'm not from around here”

[Post-Chorus]
I'll say I'm not from around here

[Outro]
But I'm in my car and I see the yard
The patch of grass where we buried the dog
And the world makes sense behind a chain-link fence
If I could leave, I would've already left
But I'm in my car and I see the yard
And the patch of grass where we buried the dog
And the world makes sense behind a chain-link fence
If I could leave, I would've already left
I would've already left”

For more on Noah Kahan, see below:

Written by Melanie Rooten
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