Alec Benjamin is a young twenty-something year old who is rising fast on the pop charts. If you haven’t heard of him yet, I recommend you check out “Let Me Down Slowly” and “If I Killed Someone For You.” The first song being about the experience of being on the brink of losing a relationship and the latter being a song about killing someone to get the attention of someone you admire.
Benjamin’s songs go beyond just your “typical” pop music though. Not only does he write some killer hooks reminiscent of Taylor Swift and rhythmic melodies that you could’ve sworn were in one of Ed Sheeran’s songs, Benjamin is a storyteller. He claims to take a lot of inspiration from Eminem, one of his favorite recording artists. He even did a cover of the song “Stan,” one of my personal favorites from Eminem, although he didn’t cover the entire song.
Eminem’s music video for “Stan”
Benjamin’s latest single, “Must Have Been the Wind,” doesn’t stray away from this style. If anything, it reinforces the idea that his songwriting ability is pretty dang good and, if this is just the beginning, I am excited to see what he’ll be writing in the years to come.
Lyrically, the song is a narrative told from the writer’s perspective. It begins with the sound of glass shattering in the apartment above his, followed by the sound of a girl crying. The writer begins to worry and goes to check out the noise. A girl opens the door to the apartment above and she claims that she doesn’t know what he’s talking about saying, “It must have been the wind.”
Alec Benjamin singing “If We Have Each Other” against a desert sunset
When I first heard this song I assumed that the girl was a victim of domestic violence. Although this assumption could be true, I realized that Benjamin gives us no explicit evidence that this is the case. There is ambiguity in the lyrics: I heard a glass shatter on the wall in the apartment above mine. The glass could have been thrown at her but she could have also thrown it out of anger or with the intention of self-harm. And in the chorus he describes her appearance, singing: sweater zipped to her chin. Again, we are not given details. Benjamin also doesn’t describe hearing other voices in the apartment and doesn’t provide us with any signs that someone else is present when he opens the door.
This makes me wonder, what exactly is Alec Benjamin trying to tell us? What kind of story is this? On a deeper level, Must Have Been the Wind seems to be about the idea of loneliness. Benjamin doesn’t seem to be sharing his experience with anyone except for us – no roommates, no family or friends. It’s just him. He, alone, woke up from the noise and, by himself, decided to check it out. The girl, by herself, answered the door. No other voices and no other characters. Just two people living in their own apartments. Both characters experiencing loneliness in two different ways: one is driven to anger or self-harm, either to feel something in her life or to see if anyone else is there listening; and the other, led by his loneliness to curiosity and empathy for his lonely neighbor.
What reinforces this is the refrain which the song is titled after, it must have been the wind. As a single 29 year old living without any immediate family nearby, I spend a lot of time by myself. I had a roommate who moved out about a week ago and since he moved out, there are moments where I feel like I have to tell myself, “it must have been the wind,” because I know no one is there. Even though something so real and so tangible was there before, it no longer is. As if the wind came and took it. And maybe the writer is feeling the same thing as he lays on the cold concrete floor – maybe it was all his imagination. At the end of the song (spoiler), that’s where he ends up. Maybe she’s telling the truth and until she says otherwise, it must have been the wind.
Jonathan is a seminary graduate (M.Div, 2018, Seattle Pacific Seminary) and currently works on staff at Quest Church in Seattle, WA. He also works at Seattle Pacific Seminary as an academic coach for current seminarians. In addition to this blog, he is one of three co-hosts for The Outside Story, a podcast on film, TV, and media from an Asian-American perspective. He can be reached at email@example.com or on social media (FaceBook, Instagram, Twitter) at @jnkmoua.