Song of the Week: Gloria

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On Sept. 13 The Lumineers released their new album, “III.” The album received it’s title, not only from being The Lumineers third album, but also by telling the story of the fictional Sparks family over three generations and the havoc addiction wreaked on them. 

Vocalist Wesley Schultz and percussionist Jeremiah Fraites based the characters in the Sparks family on their own experiences of dealing with loved ones facing addiction.  

The entirety of the album is well crafted, interwoven and provokes thought. The song “Gloria,” the final song in Chapter I, stands out as an asset to the story the album tells. This did not go unnoticed by the general public, as the song rose to be the most popular song on the album. 

“Gloria” centers on the gruesome addiction of Gloria Sparks to alcohol. Gloria is the catalyst that sets her family in a domino effect of addiction. 

The song provides insight into life with a loved one facing addiction and the inevitable uphill battle they face, as they watch that loved one wreak ruination upon themselves. This dependency is shown through a biblical reference to Jesus’ famous crucifixion: “Gloria, you crawled up on your cross/ Gloria, you made us sit and watch/ Gloria, no one said enough is enough.”

Gloria chooses alcohol, specifically “booze” as mentioned in the song, above and before her own family, which often jeopardizes their lives. This and the fact that The Lumineers chose the song to be from the perspective of a family member allow raw emotion to ring out clearly. The lines “Gloria, they found you on the floor/ Gloria, my hand was tied to yours” express the heavy burden an abuser can cause to those close to them. 

The family member who’s perspective the song is told from advises Gloria to change her ways before she kills herself. The urgency of this is conveyed through the repeated line “enough is enough” throughout the song. 

Ending on a powerful note that is sure to resonate with listeners, The Lumineers finish their song with the lines “Gloria, will you just decide?/ Gloria, there’s easier ways to die/ Gloria, have you had enough?” 

As is typical to The Lumineers, upbeat whimsical music plays throughout “Gloria.” According to The Statesman, the lead singer, Schultz, intentionally balances his honest, serious lyrics with upbeat music.

“I think there’s nothing wrong with [honest content],” Schultz said, “but when isolated it can get a little dark if you just want to read the lyrics to yourself. I wouldn’t recommend that.”

The Lumineers produced an impressive, forceful music video for “Gloria” which further reveals to watchers and listeners the damages of substance abuse. Instances of this in the video is Gloria continuously drinking from a bottle while holding her baby, passing out, being hospitalized and then returning to her habits quickly after her perilous incident. A strong image, sure to resonate in viewer’s minds, is Gloria’s baby drinking alcohol from the bottle just as their mother did. 

With many people abusing substances today, the album and especially the song are immensely relevant. While showcasing the struggles addicts face, The Lumineers in turn destigmatize substance abuse, something necessary for a society conducive to an abuser’s recovery, according to the Recovery Research Institute. 

DHS is also working to highlight the importance of addressing substance abuse, much like The Lumineers have done by means of their album. At DHS, this can be seen through assemblies to encourage students to understand the lasting impacts of substance abuse and provide alternate options for coping. Read more about the assemblies specifically in the 3ten article “Decatur High School addresses vaping addictions in student assembly.