The Meaning of Alternative/Indie Rock Band Mazzy Star’s “Fade Into You”
I was 16 the first time I really listened to it. It was soft, but within the first 20 seconds the high-pitched guitar strumming and piano chords sliced through the jumble of thoughts in my head, soon making the song the only thing I could focus on. The first 20 seconds opened a direct path to every part of my brain, preparing it for the song that would soon become a staple of my life. And for those next four minutes and 55 seconds, nothing mattered but that song.
“Melt Into You” by Mazzy Star was released in 1993 as part of their album, So tonight I could see. It’s an alternative/indie song filled with dream pop overtones. Everything about the song is beautiful, especially its vagueness; it’s as if Hope Sandoval, the band’s lyricist and lead vocalist, wants you to create its meaning, making it twice as meaningful every time you listen to it. It’s a song that will always relate to you, no matter what stage of life you are in.
For many, it’s a love song. It’s the song people add to their Instagram stories when they softly chat up their boyfriends or play in the background of their TikToks while talking about their loved ones or serenade each other at karaoke after too many mixed drinks. And these interpretations make sense because they sounds like a love song. The music is soft, the perfect sound for rocking awkwardly back and forth at your high school dance, stepping on your partner’s feet while maintaining unbreakable eye contact. Sandoval’s voice is subtle, but flooded with excitement. It slowly drowns and suffocates you with love and sweetness each time you hear it, enough to start feeling it yourself.
But with each listen, you learn more and more of the vague lyrics, and you realize that the song may be about the end of an unrequited love. It may be a realization of how this deep longing was actually one-sided, or that it wasn’t really love but a creepy obsession. With this new perspective, my favorite phrase — “a million smiles cover your heart” — may not be referring to how beautiful partner love was, but how fake and deceptive it was. Or how the lyrics and title “Fade Into You” may not mean becoming one soul with the person you love, but losing every part of yourself that made you who you are.
When I listen, I see the significant other – the “you” described in the song – as something bigger than just a significant other. It’s someone or something holding you back. Like a darkness you can’t escape, trailing behind you until it finally catches up with you, grabbing you, slowly spreading through you until there’s nothing left and draining you until until there is nothing left to give. It is a darkness filled with despair and emptiness that drowns you until there is no more “breath that is true” to take. It’s a deep pain and sorrow that takes every happy color from your cheeks and every hint of sparkle from your eyes until there’s nothing left but an empty soul and the remnants of the person you used to be. in the old days. As it falls, it takes you with it, chaining your arms and legs together and leaving you no room or energy to fight back. But you sink into it voluntarily, without even trying to resist because of the hope and the light that the song promises you through the melody and the voice of Sandoval. Because of the comfort it brings to you.
The uplifting and soothing melody contrasts with the equally strong and painful lyrics, intensifying the pain you feel from the song while allowing you to listen to it in any situation. The melody acts as a distraction and uplifts you with a sense of happiness when you’re around people, and the lyrics wrap you in their arms when you’re alone, suffocating you.
I first really listened to the song at a picnic with my friend. It matched perfectly with the cool, gentle breeze that was only strong enough to move a few strands of my hair on this sunny summer day. It played loudly on my friend’s broken speaker resting by the old walnut tree next to our picnic blanket. But it was still quiet enough not to clash with the music coming from the other blankets scattered around the park. The music slipped into our ears, bathing our minds in Sandoval’s soothing vocals and sedate melody. As she invaded us, my body sank deeper and deeper into the ground beneath our blanket, as if her voice held me back, clinging to me as she passed out into the deep darkness. And I slowly passed out with her.
MiC columnist Roshni Mohan can be reached at [email protected]