Interweaving Pain and Longing: Noah Kahan’s ‘Stick Season’

‘Stick Season’ by Noah Kahan is a lyrical tableau of heartache and introspection against a backdrop of wintry isolation. It plunges us into a world freshly hollowed by a loved one’s departure, where everyday things remind the narrator of their loss and even the changing seasons evoke the ‘season of the sticks’ – a stark, leafless time of year in Vermont, akin to the rawness of their sense of loss.

The lyrics pursue a compelling exploration of self-blame and victimhood. The line ‘It’s half my fault, but I just like to play the victim’ reveals a self-aware, multifaceted narrator torn between acknowledging their role in the relationship’s dissolution and wallowing in a self-pitying state flavoured with alcohol, ’til my friends come home for Christmas’. An added depth brought forth by the recurring motif of the ‘tire tracks and one pair of shoes’ underscores the absence of the other, emphasizing the narrator’s feeling of being ‘split in half’.

Moving and self-revealing, Noah beautifully transmutes pain, longing, and the harsh reality of moving on into poignant elegies of the heart. A nod to the pain of unattainable closure is beautifully worked in the lyrics, ‘And I’ll dream each night of some version of you / That I might not have, but I did not lose’. This is a clear, penetrating revelation of a heart clinging to fading memories, battling between the need for closure and the desperate longing for something long gone.

Finally, the lyrics of ‘Stick Season’ encapsulate the unavoidably human, painful experience of loss. Kahan’s profound exploration of heartbreak and self-blame, paired with vivid imagery of the desolate Vermont woodland, create waves of sentiment within this beautifully melancholic narrative. Deeply resonant and lyrically raw, ‘Stick Season’ is a testament to Kahan’s ability to evoke sheer empathy within listeners, a testament to the lyrical mastery that has earned this track a staggering count of over 225 million Spotify streams.

Released by Mercury Records and Republic Records in 2022, the moving lyrics of ‘Stick Season’ continue to offer catharsis and companionship to listeners navigating the lonely roads of heartbreak and self-reckoning.