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Maude Latour: Campus lyricist

| Thursday, March 25, 2021

Elaine Park | The Observer

If there were a college poet laureate, I would nominate Maude Latour. A songwriter who studies philosophy at Columbia University, Maude has been deeply inspired by her life on campus, and her music weaves together imagery that is both biographical and derived from her exploration of classic literature.

Her lyrics are a lot like Sappho’s poetry. Her voice is powerfully feminine. Many of her lines are fragments of ideas. She centers her thoughts around themes of love and yearning, youth and aging, innocence and experience — all masterfully entwined into one through the college experience. 

When she sings about episodes of her life, she doesn’t just relate her emotions — she adds details of the campus landscape and grounds her stories in specific months and locations. 

In “Block Your Number,” she examines a tempestuous college breakup, realizing, “And if it were perfect, I wouldn’t be cryin’ / On the floor of my dorm room / You wait in the lobby.” In emphasizing the (physical and emotional) distance between her and her ex, she uses the dorm room and lobby — exclusively collegiate locations — to paint a clear picture of the experience.

In “One More Weekend,” Maude sings, “Maybe I’ve been lying to myself since last October / ‘Cause I saw you ‘cross the campus and I wished it wasn’t over / And I know you’re late to class, but can I take back every single thing I said? / If we just had one more weekend, could we try it all again?” Throughout the song, her lyrics jump all over the place chronologically, capturing the events and emotions that surround her breakup with her college ex for the summer. She laments love and loss, dwells in nostalgia and ultimately recognizes the transience of relationships.

One of Maude’s most prominent concerns is the process of aging and changing, which she discovers in herself and others as she enters adulthood. In “Starsick,” she writes about her best friend turning 19, singing, “I’m growing up, I swear I didn’t mean to.” In “Ride My Bike,” she sings, “And all the gods gave me one message / That you live fast and you die quicker.” In “Block Your Number,” Maude particularly emphasizes the changes people experience as they proceed through college: “You look so much older than / Than when I met you,” she notes bittersweetly.

But instead of mourning impermanence, Maude’s lyrics come to embrace life’s fleeting realities. “Isn’t it amazing? / That people connect for a minute or two?” she penned in “Lovesick.” So many college relationships — romantic and platonic — will be changed when we no longer share the same ground. But Maude elevates the beauty of the transient encounter, and glorifies the presence of the moment.

“Here’s a toast to getting older / Now we’re young and soon we’ll die,” Maude sings in “One More Weekend.” As a college student, it seems like every milestone we experience is an assertion of our temporary time on campus. But Maude turns her sadness into a dance, learning to root herself in the present and enjoy the moment as it plays out.

Throughout the heartbreak, euphoria and redemption, Maude’s lyrics are a celebration of the adolescent spirit. She commemorates the college experience: of life spent wearing blue Nike high tops, annotating Greek tragedies and leaning against a brick wall with a backpack on.

“Nothing lasts forever,” Maude sings at the beginning of her chorus in “One More Weekend,” as she expands a particular broken relationship to the universal reality. These words also apply to our time on our own campus. Though college may be but a moment in our lives, Maude Latour captures the moment splendidly.

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