The expectations surrounding the first few days of college are usually centered around Welcome Week shenanigans, house parties, and figuring out your alcohol tolerance. Hans Williams' experience was something he never saw coming and left him reeling in pain. In his first few days at Tulane University, Williams was a first responder to his floor-mate's suicide. In the year since he's been processing his emotions and learning how to cope with such an unimaginable tragedy. His new single "Body On My Shoulders" has allowed him to come to terms with his experience and let go of some of the fear and guilt he's held onto.
The beginning of the track pulls you in completely. The simplicity and clarity of the fingerpicked acoustic guitar leaves space for listeners to take in Williams' vocals in their entirety. He starts by questioning if he'll ever be the same or if he's forever changed, "Will I be the same one? / Will I be the same old kid that left from Vermont?" He continues, "Will I give the same love, or will I be stone cold for the rest of my life?" As the chorus starts the chord progression changes adding another layer of emotion as Williams sings about his emotional turmoil, "Oh can you tell, there’s a body on my shoulders, on my shoulders / Oh I’m fucked up in NOLA, with a body on my shoulders, it’s true..."
The emotional climax occurs during the bridge. Multiple guitars play almost as if they're in conversation with one another, symbolizing the noise in Williams' head as his experience plays on repeat. The instrumentation combined with the lyrics that detail the scene, bring both the listener and Williams to a place of immense sorrow, "Tell me, tell me that I’ll be fine / I crashed down your door just to see if you’re inside / Cause oh in my head you come alive / We pump your chest 'till your breath comes back to life." All throughout the song it seems as though Williams is talking directly to his floor-mate, asking them if they think he'll be okay and, in turn, asking if they'll be okay. There are also points throughout the song where the pronouns change from "I" to "we" or "our." This seems to show the progression of Williams' healing from thinking he's completely alone in his fear and guilt to knowing he's not.
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. In 2018 alone 48,344 people died of suicide and 1.4 million attempted to. If you or someone you know is in crisis please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.