An Ashlee Simpson Song Analysis

Two weeks of daily blog posts and still going strong!

Okay, so today, I’m going to review a little song that’s been stuck in my head all day. It’s called Shadow by Ashlee Simpson. It’s an old one… from 2004, which was, like… 13 years ago! That’s crazy.

Anyway, I’m going to present my analysis a little different this time. I already know pretty much exactly what the song is about, and it might be likely that a few others already know, too. So, I’m going to do this backwards today. Analysis/ story review first; lyrics second.

So, if you’re completely lost or are staring at your screen thinking ‘how can a song’s meaning be that obvious?’… then let me explain. That’s what I’m here for, anyway.

Ashlee Simpson is the younger sister to a very famous Jessica Simpson and, although Ashlee has earned herself quite an equal share of fame today, she hasn’t always been as well known as her older sibling. Also, she used to be married to Pete Wentz. But, before all of that happened, she was just known as… well,  Jessica Simpson’s sister. She didn’t have the record label or acting career that her sister had, and she (as you can tell from the lyrics of Shadow) felt like she just couldn’t compare to her sister’s success.

And so… that’s what this song is all about. Not being able to live up to your expectations. Not feeling good enough to be compared to your older siblings… or any siblings, younger or older, for that matter. If you’re an only child, then it might be tougher for you to get, but I still think it can be relatable on some level for everyone. And, yeah, I’m the youngest of four in my fam, so I sure can relate quite a bit.

So, now, let’s just go through the lyrics and keep all of this backstory in mind… and just listen to the story the song unfolds!

I was six years old
When my parents went away
I was stuck inside a broken life
I couldn’t wish away

(Poor Ashlee, though!)

She was beautiful
She had everything and more

(In reference to Jessica.)

And my escape was hiding out and running for the door

(Ugh, I feel you, Ashlee. Like when you get into one bad situation after another and you just want to get away.)

Somebody listen please
It used to be so hard being me

(Sing it, girl!)

Living in the shadow
Of someone else’s dream

(Having to live everyday on the back-burner while she watched her older sister achieve all of her goals and reach her dreams.)

Trying to find a hand to hold but every touch felt cold to me
Living in a nightmare
A never-ending sleep

(Like a bad dream you can’t wake up from… where bad things happen each day again and again… and she didn’t have anyone to turn to.)

But now that I am wide awake
My chains are finally free
Don’t feel sorry for me

(And this is the part where Ashlee kind of takes a step back and says, basically, ‘okay, I had some rough times, but I hold no grudges and I’m okay now.’

All the days collided
One less perfect than the next

(This line made me think a little bit… but I’m pretty sure she means that every day kind of became a blur; she went through the motions every day and things slowly got worse and worse.)

I was stuck inside someone else’s life and always second best

(Again… she was second best compared to her sister and didn’t feel like she could be herself.)

Oh, I love you now ’cause now I realize
That it’s safe outside to come alive in my identity

(Now she wants Jessica to know that she’s not mad and she’s not bitter about the way things used to be because now she understands that it’s okay for her to be herself. You go, Ashlee!)

So if you’re listening

(Get ready for the second chorus!)

There’s so much more to me you haven’t seen
Living in the shadow
Of someone else’s dream
Trying to find a hand to hold but every touch felt cold to me
Living in a nightmare
A never-ending sleep
But now that I am wide awake
Then I can finally see
Don’t feel sorry for me-

(Don’t feel bad for Ashlee- she don’t need no sympathy!)

(…Okay, sorry- she doesn’t need any sympathy!)

Mother, sister, father, sister, mother
Everything’s cool now
Mother, sister, father, sister, mother
Everything’s cool now

(To Ashlee’s family- no grudges held.)

Oh, my life is good
I’ve got more than anyone should
Oh, my life is good
And the past is in the past

(Everything is going good for her now… and, well, the past is in the past!)

(And onward to the end!)

I was living in the shadow
Of someone else’s dream
Trying to find a hand to hold but every touch felt cold to me
I’m living in a new day
I’m living it for me
And now that I am wide awake
Then I can finally see
So don’t feel sorry for me
Don’t feel sorry, don’t feel sorry for me
Don’t feel sorry, don’t feel sorry for me

Living in, living in, living in the shadow
Living in, living in, living in a new day

And that is it!

This song is a jam for me, so this was really fun to analyze. It’s kind of an emotional angry-sad song, but it’s also got a good rock instrumental side to it, so I think it’s kind of like an anthem at the same time. Give it a listen, though, if you haven’t heard it before! Or, even if you have, listen to it again!

Also, if you want to hear more about what Ashlee has to say about the song, check this out. (It’s a Wiki page, but I went on ahead and read it, so I can say it’s worth it if your interested.)

So… Team Jessica or Team Ashlee?

I’m just kidding, haha.

Tell me what you like about the song… or about Ashlee… or Jessica… or your cat… or anything else!

-iKari

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