Owl City’s “Firebird” is Incredible – Here’s Why

I screwed up posting this last time I tried, so…. here we go: trying again. 

Owl City’s latest contribution to the world of electronica/synth-pop had a lot of people saying that this new album is one of his best. And with the Cinematic tour happening as we speak, I felt that it would be nice to try to talk a bit about one of the songs on the album that I think is particularly special. 
Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Didn’t she already review the album? Are we really going to hear the same spiel again?” 
Let me reassure you: I am not regurgitating what I originally wrote on the entire album. This is my analysis of one song on the album, and why I think it demonstrates Adam at his absolute best. 
There’s little information on the song “Firebird” mainly because, despite Cinematic being a glimpse into Adam’s life, it’s also about the relationships that have affected him. According to Adam, “Firebird” is from the viewpoint his girlfriend Abby talking about her relationship with her brother Billy. Now, I honestly struggled at first to look at it this way (I kept thinking Adam was referring to his own life, only to remember that he’s an only child) but the way he sings about it shows that he understands how Abby feels about her brother, and it’s obvious that he completely gets what their relationship has taught them. 

This song is beautifully written with the same OC style that I fell in love with. While it is a bit more straightforward and clear than anything else he’s done, I still think he retains the ability to tell wonderful stories, which is one of the reasons I adore the album so much. Even if it is more straightforward, there are still things to marvel and wonder about. 

“We used to talk all night and not say a word/When I would hop into your red Firebird.” 

This line opens the song and I just find it so profound. They would talk all night, but never say a word. Perhaps he means they were just goofing off, or not talking about anything of significant substance with not a care in the world, like kids often do. That feeling of being young and not really giving a damn is often something that a lot of adults wish they could go back to, and I like how this song kind of deals with that in the context of this relationship. 

“And man alive, we would drive just to drive around town/’Cause in your car, we understood and figured out that everything changes.”

The changing relationship is apparent in the recurring line in the song, “Everything changes.” That sentiment is entirely true. Whether we want to or not, we’re all going to grow up someday (or have already) but that doesn’t mean our relationships with family dwindle and die. People in our lives come and go, but family is something that doesn’t change – they’ll always be your family, no matter what. And the moment in the moving car can serve as a sort of parallel for life continually changing and moving in different directions. 

“Tell me why I look back and I want to cry/Sometimes I feel like we grew up too fast/You and I had the time of our younger lives/Sometimes I sigh and think about the past/But it’s all right, because everything changes.” 

This is something that anyone faced with growing older can understand and relate to. We are all always changing, even in the smallest of ways, as time goes on and life moves along with it. Like I said earlier, the reason for this is the often-carefree attitude of many adolescents today, even as teens who can drive, because while adulthood is just around the corner, it’s not exactly there yet. This helps those young people to embrace childhood one final time. That is why the speaker looks back and wants to cry. However, they admit that “it’s all right” and that life is a wonderful thing to cherish in any stage. 

“A basement full of boys building homemade bombs/AJ cut his finger and said, ‘Go get your mom.’/I saw it all through the windshield of my white truck, Troy/Lots of ups, lots of downs, lots of growing up/’Cause everything changes/Everything changes.” 

This particular verse seems to look back on the innocence of childhood and the relationship between a sister and her brother’s friends, with the “I saw all of it!” attitude, the affectionate sort of teasing tone as the speaker looks back on the experience with more mature eyes and meditates on the fact that it has changed as well, as they’ve all grown up. This can ring true for any sibling relationship, that realization that things are different with the passage of time. It is a sort of sobering experience, looking back on it all and realizing how things are so different from how they used to be. You can think of almost anything from young childhood to now, and in the right state, it is astounding to look back on, because of the unpredictable and often unnoticed effect of changes through time. 

“Hey, Billy, remember when it was just us/Pretending we were Nash and Coral on the school bus/I wouldn’t change a thing, ’cause everything changes.” 

This is perhaps one of the most heartwarming verses in the song, with the speaker going back to those childhood memories and looking back on them with affection. Despite it all, they wouldn’t want it any other way. Childhood is something that is precious, and while there are some rough spots sometimes, accepting the experiences for what they are and understanding how it got you to the here and now – that shows incredible maturity. 

“Life is different now and that’s okay with me/I moved away and you started a family/But deep inside you and I are still the same kids/’Cause your my brother and that won’t ever change/Even though everything changes.” 

The gentle acknowledgement of change in this passage, yet admitting that the one thing that won’t ever change is the relationship, is powerful in its delivery. 

“There’s a new guest room in my parent’s home/The carpet got replaced a couple years ago/Because it isn’t my bedroom anymore/There’s new photographs on the freezer door/But it’s all right, ’cause everything changes.”

We get a physical representation here of the change talked about in the song. Up to this point, Adam has mainly sung about the change and its effect on the people in the song, but that change can be represented through physical objects as well as humans. I was really happy to hear this verse in the song because I felt that it cemented the inevitability, not just the acceptance, of change. 

“We should talk all night and not say a word/Let me hop into your red Firebird again.” 

And this closing verse brings the entire story to a close. The idea of, while having grown up, but wanting to reminisce about childhood, is something that is so poignant and it perfectly wraps up an amazing song. 

I feel like this post is meaningless without the actual song being accessible, so I leave you with both the original and acoustic versions of “Firebird” to hear it yourself. 

Credit to Owl City for posting these videos. Used for the purpose of review under the Act of Fair Use. 
(Alternate – Acoustic)

By Amber Rizzi

I am a literature geek working toward my Bachelor's in English with a concentration in writing. I love to read, and I'm always itching to write, especially creatively. I started "The Writer's Library" about three years ago, previously working with a Blogger platform before moving over to Wordpress. While I mainly post reviews of books, occasionally I will go ahead and review works in other media forms as well, such as music and certain television shows. No matter what I'm doing on here, I love to share with anyone who is willing to listen, and I'm excited to finally be on Wordpress!

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