Based on the translation provided in the topic, because I don’t know Japanese.
“Hill of Beginning” is a suitable name for the first song of the Love Song album. It’s easy to say the “beginning” part references the fact that it’s the first track in the album, so I’ll leave that at that. The “hill”, however, hints at the rest of the song and the album. A hill, compared to a mountain, has gentler slopes and is easier to traverse. Most importantly, a hill slopes upward, reaching a peak, then downward. This trend is seen throughout the album, in terms of story and song. Since most stories and songs have a beginning, climax, and end, I was led to the question: why wasn’t the song titled “Mountain of Beginning” (or something of the sort)? The key difference between a hill and a mountain is obviously that hills are lower, gentler, and easier to traverse. I’ll be revisiting the “hill” idea often.
Summary and Interpretation
The song starts with the singer pedaling by themselves. I’m inclined to think they are pedaling on a hill, because of the title, but there is no solid evidence of this. There are hints to the setting by word choice, such as “fall down” and “look back at this spot”, but these events can take place on flat ground so it isn’t definite (I like to imagine the person is biking on a hill, though). They are looking forward, literally and figuratively, to what “the ordinary life” will bring them. This “ordinary life” references a life without someone else (as told in later parts of the song). The language here hints to the mindset of the person pedaling, who heralds companionship as greater than “ordinary” life. The first clue at a theme for the album is found here: unhealthy attachment. Later songs hint at this further, so I’ll leave it at that for now.
In the next few lines, the singer laments on how “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is a lie. They recant it twice to emphasize it. It’s very clear that they know this lesson on a deep, personal level. But what put them in this state, what broke them this way? This is answered when the singer then stops to reflect on their past. They reminisce about a relationship, and how they thought that together, they could “climb any hill”. It starts positive, coming back to the theme of a hill in “I think we could climb any hill”. On that hill, the “grass grows like always”; life continues. It then takes a negative turn, saying they get “trampled” and “stepped” on, when “people don’t even look back”. The relationship started strong with a feeling of invincibility, then became one-sided as the singer compares themselves to the trampled grass that goes unnoticed. This ties back to the earlier line about how “people grow stronger no matter how many times they fall down”. They are comparing themselves to grass that is simple yet helpful, resilient yet fragile, but most importantly, is always there. If you step on grass once, almost nothing happens; the grass keeps growing. Tread on it enough, and it withers away. The singer is tired of being tread on. They are seeking a way to end the relationship, or perhaps, to end it all. Another theory of the meaning of the grass is that the relationship fell through because of mundane repetition. This is enforced by later lines like “living diligently” (though it is later negated). The relationship became dull over time, leading to an eventual breakup.
Events in later tracks in the album point more towards the first theory, however. The next line brings up another motif in Love Song: the sun. The sun traditionally represents life, passion, and the cycle of life. Here, the singer says the sun still shines even when they haven’t come out. This further exemplifies the feeling of an invincible relationship. The sun shines on the when they aren’t even outside. These feelings were in the past, so they are negated in the next line, reinforcing the idea that the singer has moved on. The singer has gone so far as to buy a clock to remind them that “time is still flowing”. It’s easy to say that the clock simply represents that time moves on, as stated, but in the next line they “wind it for the last time”. The “last time” points me to believe the singer has or is trying to move on. Despite all this, and their previous attachment to this significant other, they are trying to move forward. But it is all moot.
The last stanza is the singer’s attempt to distance themselves from this other person, but it is revealed by their word choice that deep down, they are not yet over it. Switching out “we” for “I”, and repeating lines to try to convince themselves that they have moved on (“I’m glad it was with you. I’m glad it was you”). The other person has shown their concern for the singer, in worrying about the “worn out fingers that were sore”. Yet it is unknown who the fingers belong to. My only guess is that they belong to both of them, who tried to hold the relationship together but failed in the end. The fact that it was the other person who acknowledged this shows that they were ready to end it, but the singer didn’t want to. “And I could only pedal mindlessly” brings us back to the present, showing how the singer feels now–after recalling the events of their past. This also shows another attitude of the singer: they felt helpless. The phrase “I could only” makes it seem that the singer had to watch as the relationship fell apart. This is from the perspective of the singer. All other evidence from the song points to the breakup being simple and easy. It all comes to a close with the singer saying “because we’re already over”. The translation used a contraction, so I don’t know if it is present or past tense, but with my limited knowledge of Japanese I want to believe it is past tense, saying “we were already over” (correct me if I’m wrong). This is another way the singer refuses to accept their separation: by trying to split the blame between them. This adds to the idea that the singer has an (main theme)unhealthy attachment to the other person.
I realize that the whole “singer” and “other person” roles become blurred and confusing in this paragraph, so I have a key (heh) for that.
- Person A is the person referred to as “I” in the lyrics
- Person B is the person referred to as “you” in the lyrics
- Singer is who is singing (despite what they are singing about)
The song is composed of vocals backed by a piano track. The piano follows along, but seems almost disjointed from the singer at times. If we imagine the singer and the piano as the two people that were in a relationship, they are trying their best to try to be together, come close, but returns to a disjointed state. This begs the question: in the relationship, who are the singer and the piano? One theory is that the singer is Person A and the piano is Person B, but that the roles are actually reversed. The singer, despite what they are singing about, is constant. They are always singing, occasionally changing rhythm to describe events pertaining to the hill in a sort of chant. Chants are, well, chant-y; they follow a repetitive rhythm. The nature of the repetitive chant shows that they lyrics chanted, about climbing the hill, make it seem as if this thought has crossed the singer’s mind a lot, or perhaps was pestered into them. The idea that the singer could conquer anything has become old, stale. This attitude reminds me of the other person in the song, Person B. On the other side, the piano represents Person A. The piano is playing almost throughout the song, but the intonation changes, becoming louder at times to match the singer, but always backing off at some point (gently rising and falling, like the slopes of a hill). Trying to match the singer, trying so hard, but ultimately falling short matches the attitude of Person A, who tries hard to make their relationship work but is ultimately ended by Person B. The vocals begin leading the piano, but towards the middle, they begin to start together. Also interesting is that the first note is sung by the singer, but the last note is played by the piano. I think that this is a subtle way of showing the attitude of finality Person A has, wanting to have the last word. The line “Because we’re already over” reflects those feelings with a sense of finality.
After the second stanza, the piano takes off alone, but after playing is soon accompanied by moving piano notes. I see these moving notes as Person A’s strength to move on from Person B. The notes join after a slightly sad piece before it. Those notes give it strength, and push it forward into the singer’s next stanza, which is mostly about the laments of the relationship.
One other thing to note is that this is the shortest song in Love Song, which could be a testament to how long the relationship lasted (not very long). No idea though, other opinions would help.
The picture provided in the album is what I assume is a hill, not a grassy one but a simple incline cars drive on, as shown by what appears to be a paved road and the road surface marking. What’s most important about this picture, however, is the sign in the corner. Only the bottom half is visible, showing two pictures: one with four faces and one with what appears to be a house on a hill.
I don’t have much to say about this at the moment, because to be honest I can’t tell what they are. But, a hill is a hill, and it’s there… yeah.
One Sentence Summary
Someone pedaling through life laments on a past relationship, trying to use the past as a vessel to grow, but is ultimately stopped by their own mindset.
I was overtaken by how much depth this song held. It came across as simple to me, but there was so much hidden meaning behind every little detail. Overall, I came out with one major question:
What is love?
Not the “baby don’t hurt me” kind, but what does it mean to love, to be with someone, to share time together? What is to come of one-sided friendships? How does a longing for companionship change how we think? I will keep these questions in mind as I continue listening to the album.
Opinion wise, I enjoy the melodic simplicity the song has to offer. I had no problem listening to it on repeat all day, and it didn’t hamper my mood too much. The first time I heard it, however, the melancholic piano almost brought a tear to my eye. Even before I had known the lyrics, it had me thinking about my past, and that certain sadness that comes with everything. And I think that is powerful.