Western Wind, Analyzed
Carly Rae Jepsen’s new single Western Wind reminds us to lean into love, even in the smallest things.
California, it crossed my mind
Once, we were pressed into the —
Love, we were pressed into the breeze up on the mountain
I was by your side
What are westerlies?
The main focus of Western Wind revolves around western winds, but what are they? Westerlies are prevailing winds that blow from the west towards the east. They make up an important component of global atmospheric circulation. High pressure systems in the subtropical highs result in air being pushed across the surface of the Earth. For air moving towards the poles, they are deflected eastward due to the rotation of the earth (the coriolis effect). This large movement of air being pushed towards the east from the west occurring between 30–60° of latitude are called the westerlies, and they have significant impacts on global and local climate. In Vancouver, for example, westerlies are responsible for bringing lots of moist air from the subtropics. Westerlies meeting our mountain ranges help bring us precipitation. Westerly winds also affect the jet stream and atmospheric rivers.
Do you remember a conversation
With our heads against the pillow?
Toss my shoes before I enter through your doorstep
I was on your side
How are westerlies related to connection?
In Western Wind, Jepsen uses westerlies as a powerful metaphor for love and connection. Just as westerlies press moist air into the coastal mountains, the lyrics ask listeners to imagine being pressed close to another, whether it be “into the breeze up on the mountain” or in bed “with our heads against the pillow”. Jepsen states that westerlies are a reminder that “it’s all connected.” Just as global climate and weather systems are deeply intertwined in complex ways we still don’t fully understand, so are each of us. Our social networks of kinship, community, mentorship, and belonging connect us with one another in ways we have no way of conceptualizing. We are all threads in a highly interwoven tapestry that makes up our society.
A jubilation, a celebration
Take me back into your corner
To the center of the room we made a dance floor
I was drawn to let go
What can we take away from Western Wind?
Western Wind asks us to celebrate the small things in our lives, like entering through a doorstep or dancing in a room. In this way, Western Wind directly counters dominant narratives that overvalue significant meritocratic events and accomplishments. Although often positioned in a context of capitalism, things like love, connection, and gratitude are inherently anti-capitalist. Reframing our understanding of these as abundant allows us to counter capitalist frameworks that would rather us eschew such practices in favour of accumulating capital in all forms, through processes that are often performative, disconnective, and competitive. Instead of postponing our happiness for our two-week vacation in Europe or for our next big achievement, Western Wind proposes that even things like the “first bloom” of spring is an opportunity to practice happiness and gratitude. The mundane and simple pleasures in our lives deserve just as much attention and appreciation. You deserve attention and appreciation, from yourself and the people around you.
When we choose to value things like our friendships and our intimate relationships of all forms, we realize that the depths of our relationships and love might truly be like a western wind: unstoppable, inevitable, and enveloping you from all directions.
Comin’ in like a western wind
Do you feel home from all directions?
First bloom, you know it’s spring
Remindin’ me, love, that it’s all connected
(Ooh, what is that?)
Comin’ in like a western wind