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Travis King 7 July, 2013 L'appel du Vide Existential Meaning in Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen Popular song

Call Me Maybe, performed by Carly Rae Jepsen, appears to be a zippy pop tune about offering one's phone number to possible identity thieves. However, as Jepsen revealed in an interview with Rolling Stone in their August 2012 issue, she does not elaborate on the full meaning of her song, but states that she is puzzled by the popular interpretation that she is singing about making herself relationally available to an attractive male. An analysis of the lyrics reveals that Call Me Maybe uses a fall down a well as an analogy for emergence into the seemingly chaotic void of the cosmos. The song opens with the line I threw a wish in the well. Jepsen acknowledges in her Rolling Stone interview that the song's inspiration came from a well near her Springfield, Illinois home, which is now out of use and it known in local tradition to be a wishing well, into which one throws a coin and silently makes a wish as the coin falls. Jepsen does not reveal her wish, as it is believed that telling your wish to others will cause it to not be realized, as is referenced in her hit single Call Me Maybe ( Universal Music Publishing Group) with the line Don't ask me, I'll never tell. However, tradition does not dictate that inferring the wish of another person will prevent it from realization, hence the justification of the following speculation. The second stanza of the song states I trade my soul for a wish. The gravity of this wish is clear from the strong language of trading one's soul. Though the song states that she was trading Pennies and dimes for a kiss, a literal kiss cannot be her wish, as she previously stated that her wish would not be revealed in the song. Whatever her wish, it is clear that it is not answered in the way which she expected, thus the lines I wasn't looking for this / But now you're in my way. It is here that the song begins to use the analogy of a male figure in the vicinity of Jepsen. This is obviously not a literal male, as that would betray the allegorical nature of the song. The nature of her wish, and of this Other-figure, are revealed in the chorus of the song. The second line of the chorus states Here's my number / So call me maybe. What do numbers have to do with wishes? The answer can be found in the person of Pythagoras, an ancient Greek philosopher, religious sect leader, and discoverer of the Pythagorean theorem. Pythagoras believed that every force and object in the universe could be explained using a whole-number ratio. Mathematical operations were used by the Pythagoreans as religious devices and mathematics was seen as a form of divination. Jepsen, who earned her BA in History at Illinois State University, is surely familiar with these facts, and thus her reference to my number most likely refers to a representation of herself in

totality. Thus her wish is revealed: she presents her being to this Other-figure, the mathematical Newtonian clockwork universe, expecting an answer that is personally fulfilling. Her wish is, however, not fulfilled in the manner which she anticipates. She is suddenly faced with the chaotic nature of her situation: she is wearing ripped jeans, her skin is showing (a dual reference to both innocence and maturity), the weather is hot, and a strong wind is blowing. She becomes aware of a deep urge to jump into the well, an urge described in French as l'appel du vide, or the call of the void. She sings, You took your time with the call / I took no time with the fall / You gave me nothing at all / But still you're in my way. She does not fall into the literal well, but she does fall into her current understanding of the cosmos as encompassing both order and chaos. She acknowledges that she cannot peer into the depths of the well (It's hard to look right / At you baby. This understanding is both a sacrifice (giving her nothing at all) but also a privilege of adulthood. Her new cosmological perspective at first inspires a desire to commit theft as a rebellion against meaningless synthetic institutions such as currency and Wilfred's Corner Store (Springfield, IL Police Arrest Records, 2008). Jepsen's love of singing helped her rise above both her criminal phase as well as her deep despair at her loss of objective meaning, and she now states of this existential revelation, Before you came into my life I miss you so bad. She continues to frame her perspective as an objective, personal Other, and uses the phrase my number, as a retrospective call to her former self, wishing that she had made her wish in the well sooner. In summary, Carly Rae Jepsen's Call Me Maybe continues in a tradition of layers of musical meaning surpassing public understanding, and with details revealed in her interview with Rolling Stone we can infer that her song refers to a coming of age experience in her life, in which she was forced to reevaluate her assumptions about the nature of the cosmos. Before this experience she believed that reality was explainable in quantified terms, using the phrase my number to refer to the whole-number ratio that she, like Pythagoras, believed was the full expression of her existence. After an experience in which she looks into a well, symbolizing both the void of deep space and the void of natural understanding, and cannot resist the urge to fall, coming into her new belief that reality is unknowable and has no objective meaning that is discernible to humans. The popular belief that this song is about dating is likely due to the fact that she uses the image of a male figure to represent her changing view of reality. Though Call Me Maybe has a cheerful tune and lively beat, it represents the very human struggle of whether to find a purpose, or to question purpose itself.