Growing up with the singer, Adele

Joshua Haynes, Volunteer Writer

This is the final issue of our 2020 Flor-Ala season, and to wrap up my column, I’ve decided that instead of gaming or twitch, I’m going to talk about another subject that is equally or more dear to my heart, but first allow me to indulge in a simple story that changed my life. 

In the late summer/early fall of 2014, I had just moved back after being overseas for a year. My two best friends, Will and Evan, invited me to a two day sleepover. I don’t remember too much about it other than there being a lot of Pokémon Black and White and Marvel movies. One thing, however stands out to me: Evan had to go to a piano lesson. When he came back, he told us it wasn’t to learn the piano, just one song specifically. His mom, (who had probably paid a lot for that lesson) asked him to play what he had learned for us. Evan sheepishly sat at the family piano and began playing a piece I had never heard before. It was fast yet carried weight. It featured arpeggios that lended itself gravity and sincerity but had a hint of sadness and regret. Evan hadn’t learned much in one 45 minute lesson so after a few bars he stopped. Dumbfounded, I asked the name of the piece. His reply changed my life. “Its called “Turning Tables” by Adele. You haven’t heard it?” 

We spent the next 18 hours or so listening to Adele’s greatest hits. I was immediately blown away by the quality of the lyrics and composition of her writing. I went home and listened to her more and more. I haven’t stopped listening since. I want to take you along on a journey with me. I want to show you what Adele means to me and my life. I want to show you how she’s changed me and my life. 

Adele Adkins was born in the United Kingdom in the late 1980s and grew up in the rebirth of British music, with British pop dominating the music scene worldwide. She took an interest in singing from a very young age. In her late teens, she tried to make a couple of breakout tours in the UK. While she was mildly successful, she was not on the top and was barely making waves in the mainstream music scene. However, in 2008, she reached the number one spot  on the British charts and began her American tour. In October of that year, she was the featured singer on “Saturday Night Live” with Sarah Palin as the headliner guest. The next week her album, 19, was trending globally. From there the rest is history. 

Adele makes no mystery about what her songs are about. They’re written as breakup songs, right? I believe that she writes them all about one person. In an age where albums are being rendered obscure by singles and TikTok trend songs, Adele brings refreshing clarity to the music world. She has produced a trilogy of albums each titled after her age at the time of writing and recording: “19”, “21” and “25”. 

“19” is by far my least favorite for one simple reason: It is from the perspective of a foolish, head-over-heels-in-love girl. She writes about someone that she is in love with, but doesn’t know how to word it. There’s not really any depth, just a series of ballads that don’t connect well together. A lot of the stories that she tells are about her mom and her moving from town to town, which is why it can be a little scattered as well. Lyrically there’s nothing wrong with it, but its about the instruments more than anything. Adele hadn’t found her footing yet. She didn’t know what worked well with her voice and what didn’t. She used a lot of guitar and electric bass as a backing. I love the bass as an instrument, but outside of a solo, it doesn’t work well by itself. I think that the lack of unity between songs works well for the story of the trilogy, but as an album it doesn’t work. 

In 2011 she released “ 21”, my favorite album of all time. Earlier this year, it was added to the Rolling Stone’s top 500 albums of all time. It won her countless awards and accolades. It has topped the charts in 30 countries. She is the first female artist and the second artist ever to sweep the main four Grammy categories. Best of all, it is the best selling album of the century. 

Writing began while she was in a relationship, but halted until she had broken it off. She used her emotions and channelled them directly into her writing. Her passion, hurt and regret all mix in a brilliantly instrumentalized work of art that takes the best of her previous album and pushes it to a new level. The album moves through the best and worst parts of the relationship and ends on her biggest single on the work, “Someone Like You.”

The piano is where Adele hits her best notes, pun intended. She reaches beyond what you thought possible. All I can say is, if you haven’t listened to the album, take the hour and do it. It is always worth it.

er latest album, “25” was her anticipated return after starting a family. In this one, she is more introspective and apologetic for the harshness displayed in “21”. She has accepted the breakup and wants to let things settle where they are. It is obvious that it has had a lot more mixing and producing than the other two. It isn’t necessarily bad, but it loses the homey, vintage vibe that she created in “21”. The best song on the album is “When We Were Young”. It takes you back to the breakup and what she wished she’d said and done differently. The imagery is vivid and simple yet powerful. Its what we all as writers should strive to do. 

I can only say this: listen. Take the songs and apply them to your life and your relationships. See what you learn. I promise that you will be better for it.