Story Song

The Ballad of Love and Hate by The Avett Brothers


Love writes a letter and sends it to hate.

My vacation’s ending. I’m coming home late.

The weather was fine and the ocean was great

And I can’t wait to see you again.


Hate reads the letter and throws it away.

“No one here cares if you go or you stay.

I barely even noticed that you were away.

I’ll see you or I won’t, whatever.”


Love sings a song as she sails through the sky.

The water looks bluer through her pretty eyes.

And everyone knows it whenever she flies,

And also when she comes down.


Hate keeps his head up and walks through the street.

Every stranger and drifter he greets.

And shakes hands with every loner he meets

With a serious look on his face.


Love arrives safely with suitcase in tow.

Carrying with her the good things we know.

A reason to live and a reason to grow.

To trust. To hold. To care.


Hate sits alone on the hood of his car.

Without much regard to the moon or the stars.

Lazily killing the last of a jar

Of the strongest stuff you can drink.


Love takes a taxi, a young man drives.

As soon as he sees her, hope fills his eyes.

But tears follow after, at the end of the ride,

‘Cause he might never see her again.


Hate gets home lucky to still be alive.

He screams o’er the sidewalk and into the drive.

The clock in the kitchen says 2:55,

And the clock in the kitchen is slow.


Love has been waiting, patient and kind.

Just wanting a phone call or some kind of sign,

That the one that she cares for, who’s out of his mind,

Will make it back safe to her arms.


Hate stumbles forward and leans in the door.

Weary head hung down, eyes to the floor.

He says “Love, I’m sorry”, and she says, “What for?”

“I’m yours and that’s it, whatever.

I should not have been gone for so long.

I’m yours and that’s it, forever.”

You’re mine and that’s it, forever.

This song is by one of my favorite bands, The Avett Brothers. When I first read about this option for the assignment, I immediately thought of The Ballad of Love and Hate. It’s the perfect “story song,” about two characters called Love and Hate. Of course, “Love” and “Hate” are just vague placeholders for the names of two lovers; the song isn’t about a specific relationship between two people, but a general story of what a relationship can be and the two roles individuals play within that. The inciting incident is immediate – Love writes a letter and sends it to Hate. She’s been away on vacation without him, and you get the sense that he is resentful. It feels as if Hate is afraid of Love leaving him for good, so he acts out and drinks and says hateful things because he doesn’t want to lose her, so he’s attempting to protect himself by acting like a jerk. There is one moment where Love takes a taxi and the taxi driver seems to fall in love – “as soon as he sees her, hope fills his eyes,” and then he tears up at the end because “he might never see her again.” This shows that Love is beautiful and kind – which is pretty much the opposite of Hate. The story progresses as Love flies home, Hate walks through the streets and ends up drinking alone, and finally the resolution when Hate “stumbles forward and leans in the door,” home at last. Hate finally apologizes to Love, who has been waiting for him the whole time, “patient and kind.” While it’s not the happiest story song, it definitely tells a story that audiences can relate to. You could probably make a movie out of this material; it’s a classic setup of a relationship between two opposites, trying to make it work. It’s kind of a weird feeling to break down a song that I know by heart – thinking of the lyrics as an actual narrative and not just a simple verse of the song makes me appreciate how well written The Ballad of Love and Hate is!


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