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‘You're Gonna Go Far’ by Noah Kahan & Brandi Carlile - Lyrics & Meaning

February 9, 2024 12:14 pm GMT

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Noah Kahan & Brandi Carlile - ‘You're Gonna Go Far’

Label: Mercury Records & Republic Records

Release Date: February 9th, 2024

Album: Stick Season (Forever)

Producers: Gabe Simon & Noah Kahan

Songwriter: Noah Kahan

The Background:

After its official announcement in January, as well as months and months of speculation from Noah Kahan fans from coast to coast, those who enjoyed Stick Season have been anxiously awaiting Stick Season (Forever). The third iteration of Kahan's chart-topping album, Stick Season (Forever) features a new and improved version of ‘You’re Gonna Go Far’ with a special guest: Brandi Carlile.

On January 24, Kahan took to social media to share that he would be releasing a new tune entitled ‘Forever’, as well as his two final Stick Season collaborations, as part of this new project, Stick Season (Forever). Teasing that both ‘Paul Revere’ and ‘You’re Gonna Go Far’ would feature another artist, the Vermont native failed to reveal who these collaborators were at first, dropping a cryptic hint that revealed the number of letters in each individual’s name instead.

Fans quickly deduced that ‘Paul Revere’ would feature Gregory Alan Isakov, however, there were theories that the artist featured on ‘You’re Gonna Go Far’ would be either Olivia Rodrigo or Marcus Mumford – two artists with which Kahan has worked with in the past – after seeing that the first name contained six letters and the last name contained seven letters. On January 29, the 27-year-old put the rumors to rest, confirming via social media that the second artist would not be Rodrigo or Mumford, but would instead be Americana superstar, Brandi Carlile.

‘You’re Gonna Go Far’ featuring Brandi Carlile and ‘Paul Revere’ featuring Gregory Alan Isakov mark the GRAMMY Award nominated artist’s final two Stick Season duets – 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 – ultimately completing the 30-song collection once and for all.

The Sound:

In trademark Noah Kahan fashion, the stripped-back sound ‘You’re Gonna Go Far’ – produced by Gabe Simon and Kahan himself – is nothing short of spectacular. The addition of Brandi Carlile's awe-striking harmonies elevates the emotionality of the already amazing tune.

Beginning with some acoustic noodling, Carlile’s stunning vocals arrive in verse two, intensifying as the song progresses and seemingly reaching a peak in the second chorus. To top it off, Carlile brings in an entirely new verse of her own in this iteration, giving verse three a more rootsy vibe by adding her signature country twang.

The new and improved version of ‘You’re Gonna Go Far’ has a high-pitched vocal flooding throughout the track courtesy of Carlile, giving it an ethereal feel all while maintaining the same overall ambience and sound that fans of folk music know and love.

The Meaning:

“The only time I got to prayin' for a red light
Was when I saw your destination as a deadline
"This is normal conversation, babe, it's all fine"
Makin' quiet calculations where the fault lies
This is good land, or at least it was
It takes a strong hand and a sound mind”

Throughout ‘You’re Gonna Go Far’, Kahan tells a story about parting ways with what seems to be his significant other, detailing in the first two lines his experience dropping off his lover at a bus stop, hoping for a red light to delay her departure once and for all.

The two lines that follow detail a conversation the couple is having in the car that is likely abnormal – all while convincing themselves that everything is normal nonetheless – utilizing an intriguing double meaning when it comes to the word ‘fault’. While ‘the fault’ could mean ‘the blame’, it seems Kahan is instead referencing the geographical term, implying that while he used to be on safe, steady ground with his significant other, things have recently gotten rather rocky (no pun intended).

Closing out the first verse, Kahan sings that “It takes a strong hand and a sound mind” in order to overcome the trials and tribulations of a relationship, such as the struggles that come with long distance, which are touched on later in the song.

“The college kids are gettin' so young, ain't they?
They're correctin' all the grammar on a spray paint
And I even gave up drivin' after nightfall
I got tired of the frat boys with their brights on
This is good land, or at least it was
It takes a strong hand and a sound mind (sound mind)”

The second verse of ‘You’re Gonna Go Far’ delves into how Kahan has grown up and matured over the years, seeing the age gap between himself and current college students get larger and larger.

In addition, he has found he gets increasingly annoyed with activities that he enjoyed in his teenage years, such as graffiti, fraternities and even driving at night, with the latter satirically referencing something that older individuals tend to struggle with.

Then come the lines “This is good land, or at least it was / It takes a strong hand and a sound mind,” with Kahan repeating the end of the first verse, once again sharing how it takes mental and physical strength required to sustain a long-distance relationship.

“It makes me smile to know when things get hard
Ooh-ooh, you'll be far
Ooh-ooh, you'll be far from here
And while I clean shit up in the yard
Ooh-ooh, you'll be far
Ooh-ooh, you'll be far far from here”

The pre-chorus of this track is the perfect example of the old adage, “if you love something, set it free,” insinuating his significant other will be better off as soon as she gets away from her hometown.

When things get hard at home, Kahan is pleased to know that his partner will be okay. However, he will be stuck picking up the pieces, metaphorized by the lines “And while I clean shit up in the yard / Ooh-ooh, you'll be far / Ooh-ooh, you'll be far far from here.

“So, pack up your car, put a hand on your heart
Say whatever you feel, be wherever you are
We ain't angry at you, love
You're the greatest thing we've lost
The birds will still sing, your folks will still fight
The boards will still creak, the leaves will still die
We ain't angry at you, love
We'll be waitin' for you, love”

In the first two lines of the chorus, this “if you love something, set it free” mentality continues, with Noah Kahan telling his significant other that she can share how she is feeling with him, as well as giving her the freedom to go wherever she wants to go and move on to bigger and better things. The lines “We ain't angry at you, love / You're the greatest thing we've lost,” reinforce this, as Kahan encourages her to follow her heart without fear of disappointing those she's left behind.

The two lines that follow promise the protagonist that things will stay the same while she is away, for better or for worse, referencing the positive aspect of this with the birds still singing, as well as the negative dimension to this, with the folks still fighting.

The lines “We ain't angry at you, love / We'll be waitin' for you, love” close out the chorus, implying that Kahan’s life will be put on pause until she returns, but there are no hard feelings whatsoever.

“And we'll all be here forever
And we'll all be here forever
Sure will”

Dragging out the chorus, Noah Kahan is reassuring his significant other that she will always have a place to come back to, regardless of how far she goes. Not only will he be waiting for her, but the rest of her loved ones in their town will be anxiously awaiting her arrival as well, ready to welcome her home with open arms.

This lyric, ‘We'll All Be Here Forever’, served as the title of Kahan's revamped 2023 version of Stick Season, underlining its broader importance in the album's theme of feeling stuck.

“We're overdue for a revival
We spent so long just gettin' by
That's the thing about survival
Who the hell-, who the hell likes livin' just to die?
You told me you would make a difference
Well, I got drunk and shut you down
It won't be by your own volition
If you step foot outside this town
But it's all we've had
For always”

Brandi Carlile takes over here, as she sings about how important it is to live life to the fullest rather than simply survive, closing out this take with the rousing line, “who the hell likes livin' just to die?”

The remainder of verse three reflects on a drunken moment from Kahan, where he hurts his significant other by telling her that she will not amount to anything, so she might as well stay in her hometown. Through this statement, he is trying to highlight the comfort and familiarity their small town brings, letting it slip in a rather brash way after a few too many beers, perhaps stepping back into the shoes of the ‘Dial Drunk’ protagonist. You know what they say – ‘Drunk words are sober thoughts’.

What has Noah Kahan said about ‘You're Gonna Go Far’?

Prior to the release of ‘You’re Gonna Go Far’ featuring Brandi Carlile, Kahan gushed about the opportunity to work with the country superstar via X (formerly Twitter).

“The honor of all honors to have the iconic @brandicarlile on ‘You’re Gonna Go Far.’ It felt like I was floating when I listened to her version… Her music is timeless and inspiring and there are very few songwriters in the world I adore as much as I love Brandi’s ability to tell a story. Her voice will always be known as one of the best ever and I’m so grateful she contributed it to this song”, he wrote on January 29, alongside the announcement that she would be a part of the track.

Kahan then continued to gush about “these two dream collaborations” weeks and weeks later. He shared in a statement upon the release of Stick Season (Forever), “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.”

Admitting in a CMT Red Carpet interview ahead of the 66th Annual GRAMMY Awards that two more artists he would love to collaborate with someday are Colter Wall and Tyler Childers, we will just have to wait in see what is in store for Noah Kahan. Either way, it's safe to say the Stick Season chapter of his career has now come to a close.

For the full lyrics to Noah Kahan and Brandi Carlile's ‘You're Gonna Go Far', see below:

[Verse 1]
“The only time I got to prayin' for a red light
Was when I saw your destination as a deadline
"This is normal conversation, babe, it's all fine"
Makin' quiet calculations where the fault lies
This is good land, or at least it was
It takes a strong hand and a sound mind

[Verse 2]
The college kids are gettin' so young, ain't they?
They're correctin' all the grammar on a spray paint
And I even gave up drivin' after nightfall
I got tired of the frat boys with their brights on
This is good land, or at least it was
It takes a strong hand and a sound mind (sound mind)

[Pre-Chorus]
It makes me smile to know when things get hard
Ooh-ooh, you'll be far
Ooh-ooh, you'll be far from here
And while I clean shit up in the yard
Ooh-ooh, you'll be far
Ooh-ooh, you'll be far far from here

[Chorus]
So, pack up your car, put a hand on your heart
Say whatever you feel, be wherever you are
We ain't angry at you, love
You're the greatest thing we've lost
The birds will still sing, your folks will still fight
The boards will still creak, the leaves will still die
We ain't angry at you, love
We'll be waitin' for you, love

[Post-Chorus]
And we'll all be here forever
And we'll all be here forever
Sure will

[Verse 3]
We're overdue for a revival
We spent so long just gettin' by
That's the thing about survival
Who the hell-, who the hell likes livin' just to die?
You told me you would make a difference
Well, I got drunk and shut you down
It won't be by your own volition
If you step foot outside this town
But it's all we've had
For always

[Chorus]
So, pack up your car, put a hand on your heart
Say whatever you feel, be wherever you are
We ain't angry at you, love
You're the greatest thing we've lost
The birds will still sing, your folks will still fight
The boards will still creak, the leaves will still die
We ain't angry at you, love
We'll be waitin' for you, love

[Post-Chorus]
And we'll all be here forever
And we'll all be here forever

[Outro]
You're gonna go far
You're gonna go far
You're gonna go far
You're gonna go far
Yes, you are, ooh-ooh
(Ooh-ooh)
If you wanna go (go) far
Then you gotta go (go) far”

For more on Noah Kahan, see below:

Written by Melanie Rooten
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