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Color Theory: Orange

December 15, 2022

Hello everybody! Welcome back to another Color Theory article! Quite frankly, it has been a bit gloomy out. I’m counting down the days till finals are over, it gets dark before my 4:05 class is let out, and everyone seems to be lacking in motivation. Thus, as I usually do with these articles, this week’s color is one that I think feels relatable for right now. Orange! But specifically, a kind of burnt orange like how the sky looks just before it’s a red sun set. It feels like curling up on a rainy day and just sitting with some of your more dooming thoughts. Orange feels like it’s just a little too dark out and you can’t really figure out what to do with yourself now that you’ve lost so much daylight. Orange is a little bit of hopelessness combined with the shred of silver lining that you are looking towards. 

The first song that comes to mind is “High Tops (Stripped)” by Del Water Gap. Off his first EP, “High Tops” is a beautiful song, and the stripped version only amplifies the raw emotion that can be felt in this song. This song really feels orange to me in the sense that you can almost feel the hopelessness. The chorus echoes this sentiment with “I’ll keep throwing a rope / I’ll keep pulling you out”. To me, these lyrics read as someone continuing to put in the work of a relationship but slowly losing that commitment. The worry remains with “ruining your pretty lungs / … / it ain’t keeping you young”.  These lyrics center around this idea that a lover continues to make these choices which may impact both their relationship and their life. However, the bridge ends with “You can take or leave me anyway you choose” which shows that bit of hope that someone is still hanging onto—the hope that they’ll get chosen. Both the stripped version of this song and the words “I’ll open up my heart / it’s all for you” also emphasis the vulnerability that is present in this song. 

Now, as I bring up almost every article I love when songs with colors in their titles correlate with the feeling of that color. Thus, Zach Bryan’s “Something in the Orange”. Let the record say I am not a country girlie. However, I really do love this song. And it does hold such an orange quality—the contrast between the hope is he holding on to and the eventual hopelessness he reaches and of course the literal imagery of an orange sunset. This song also holds that raw and stripped quality as one really just hears a guitar and the rough voice. The lyrics “To you I’m just a man; to me you’re all I am” highlight that existential dread of what do I do when my person is no longer my person? Yet the hope returns as Bryan repeats “Something in the orange tells me we’re not done”. The entire song seems to also keep retuning to this idea of missing someone. That, to me, is a very orange quality. That nostalgic thinking you do when it’s just a little too late at night or a little too early in the morning. 

Lastly, and for a bit of a vibe switch, is “Library Magic” by the Head and the Heart. Of their 2016 Signs of Light record, “Library Magic” feels exactly as the title says. I can just picture myself in one of those really old libraries with a cup of tea as I listen to this song. The lyrics, and the music, both follow this idea of looking for the good up ahead. The lyrics “I can barely keep my head above the blue / …. / And I can see the sunshine’s rays” speak to the orange vibe of this song. I also love how the music follows along and picks up into a ‘happier’ tempo as the chorus begins with the “sunshine’s rays”. For me, that idea of looking towards something fits with the color of orange.  The song also continues with this motif repeating “There will always be better days” over and over. Sometimes when you’re feeling a particularly drained mood (thus, orange) I like to sit in those thoughts. This is song is a great reflection song, letting you dwell on what’s been going on as well as thinking about the good that’s coming. 

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