I CAN’T GO ON WITHOUT YOU – Kaleo

Kaleo is a young Icelandic band who released their first album, A/B, last year. This blues/rock album is filled with beautifully executed tunes, stressing the smooth weight of lead singer JJ Juliusson’s voice and the charismatic playing of lead guitarist Rubin Pollock. (Not to downplay Daniel (Bass) or David (Percussion), who are also both amazing musicians!) The soul that this band brings into their music is fantastic. I feel like they have poured their hearts into the album, charging each song emotionally and building a collection that is wonderful to listen through.

That is one of the many reasons it was so hard to pick just one song to write about. But I feel like “I Can’t Go On Without You” is a good representation of what Kaleo is and has to offer.

“I Can’t Go On Without You” starts quietly – a few strums on the guitar followed by an eerie whistle. Long, high-pitched tones begin to whale from the lead to accompany the sound, emphasizing a feeling of anticipation. Then JJ begins telling us a story – a man and woman who thought they were in love.

Within the first verse we learn that the woman has fell out of that love. Nobody wants that. And though he tries, he cannot go on living his life without her. JJ’s stress on the “can’t” is very powerful, cracking at the top as if he truly means it.

It’s here that we introduce another element to the building song – the guitar hitting low-echoed tones that almost remind me of the way that music sounds under water. The sound is deep, often putting chills down my spine. Coupled with JJ’s aching voice makes it that much more awesome.

As the song continues, the lyrics appear to reveal that the woman was involved in an affair, hinted by the shame he feels when he thinks of her. They break up, but he continues to think about her, so many “thoughts that cross [his] mind.” He is still in love with her, even though she has left him a “broken man.” His life has been left in pieces as he struggles to live without her.

The music grows with this emotion, gradually getting more chaotic and powerful, with a few quiet, reflective moments in between. Each time JJ comes back stronger and louder in the chorus, pushing the words across the sound. Strings join in on the pain and the lead guitar takes off a few times, grasping the desperate, wasted feeling of the song.

I had the amazing opportunity to see this band towards the end of last year. I was twenty feet from the stage and this was the first song they chose to play. I remember closing my eyes and just listening – and it was one of my favorite concert experiences to date. If these guys come by – don’t miss them. You will regret it.

Please take a listen and check out the official music video here. Don’t forget to check out the full lyrics below.

Enjoy!

_________________________________________________________________

“I Can’t Go On Without You” by Kaleo

Well they thought they were made for each other
One thinking of one another
Never thinking just for one second
She would take a different attraction

We don’t want that
We don’t want that
We don’t want that
Oh no
[x2]

I can’t go on without you
I can’t go on without you
Can’t go on without you, yeah
I can’t go on without you

Oh so, what’s the point in breaking my sweet heart?
She wanted me to let down my guard
Well, you know what they say, it’s better that way
So, so you better hush and walk away

We don’t want that
We don’t want that
We don’t want that
Oh no
[x2]

I can’t go on without you
I can’t go on without you, oh lord
Can’t go on without you, ooh ooh
I can’t go on, won’t go on, living on, without you

Where was I supposed to wait for you sweetheart?
And hide away the shame
Yes I keep it all inside, all the thought that cross my mind
I do all the things I regret and we don’t want that

We don’t want that
We don’t want that
We don’t want that
Oh no
[x2]

I can’t, I can’t, I can’t go on without you
I can’t go on without you, oh lord
Go on without you, ooh ooh
I can’t go on without you babe
Yeah

Ahh, she loves me
She loves me not
She loves me
My love’s gon’ love me

Oh so what is left but a broken man?
Cause nothing hurts like a woman can

I can’t go on without you
I can’t go on without you, oh yeah
Can’t go on without you
I can’t go on without you, oh
Oh without you lord, without you
Without you babe
Oh lord
You

2 thoughts on “I CAN’T GO ON WITHOUT YOU – Kaleo

  1. nvamp

    I really this post, and the time you’ve taken giving an interpretation to this song.
    I have to say, it’s one of my favorites. 🙂

    Although my understanding is slightly different.
    This is a blues song- a music genre born from love and eventual loss to the one who is rightfully hers.
    That is the typical premise and origin of blues music entirely.

    The first verse speaks of her relationship with her partner, and how they fit well with each other.
    But never did he ever expect her attraction to turn away from her partner and go to him.

    This is why the second verse says:
    “Oh so, what’s the point in breaking my sweet heart?
    She wanted me to let down my guard
    Well, you know what they say, it’s better that way
    So, so you better hush and walk away”

    Here he is reluctantly attracted to her as well, and he’s hoping she’ll just walk away.

    They don’t want the affair, but somehow the connection happened.

    He later laments by saying:
    “ Where was I supposed to wait for you sweetheart?
    And hide away the shame
    Yes I keep it all inside, all the thought that cross my mind
    I do all the things I regret and we don’t want that”

    The shame is connection on an intimate level with someone who is not fully his.

    And it wraps up masterfully like an homage to all blues songs about his lament, desire, love and blues for her.
    Both of them are in love with each other, but she must go back to her partner, and he is left with the broken pieces- and the knowledge that “she loves me” and that he can’t see how he can go in without her.
    It’s beautiful, relatable, and haunting.
    Gorgeous song…

    Like

    Reply

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