The Day a Rabbit Became King; a Florence and the Machine Story, by Heather Rolfert
If you’re a fan of Florence and the Machine, you know it's been a long time since you’ve sat down and listened to a new album. Their most recent one, High as Hope, graced our lives back in 2018. For those of you keeping score, it’s been four years since then.
But, don’t give up. There is hope: Florence and Machine’s new album, Dance Fever, is dropping in May. The album may not be in our hands right now, but we can still enjoy its first song, King. In fact, we can even begin to speculate how “King” can be the continuation of another song from 13 years ago.
Florence and the Machine’s “King” first jumped into our ever-growing world of music on February 22. If you’ve listened to their songs before then you know that there are always high expectations for whatever the band delivers. With Florence Welch’s haunting voice, you’re bound to have shivers going down your spine even if you aren’t a fan of her music.
The year 2009 marked the band’s earliest album. Titled Lungs, the album had a song within it called Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up). Similar to “King” (which details kings and the myths of knowing one’s self), the song is full of mystical references like Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland, the Greek myth of King Midas, and sacrifices in general.
Those similarities can’t be a coincidence.
Comparing two songs set far apart in time may seem a stretch for some people. They may find it odd, quirky even. However, it’s hard to argue when the lyrics show the evidence.
The chorus in Florence and the Machine’s “Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)” is first in piecing the two stories together:
“This is a gift, it comes with a price
Who is the lamb and who is the knife?
Midas is king and he holds me so tight
And turns me to gold in the sunlight”
The title, “Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up),” is significant here because the narrator of the song (likely a young girl) appears to be telling us that she’s timid, weak, and vulnerable compared to the king standing before her. As he towers over her, we see that the young girl is struggling at a dead end, torn in her decision:
“I know I need to do this. This opportunity was just given to me. I can’t turn it away.”
“But, you know it has consequences attached to it. Do you really want to take this opportunity only to regret it in the long run?”
She doesn’t have time to waste. Standing around achieving nothing will only lead to her demise without even a struggle or a fight. With a single touch, her chances of taking out a mighty, power-hungry king will melt away in seconds.
It seems like she won’t decide. It seems like she is going to give up. But, things don’t happen as they are expected to:
“And in the spring I shed my skin
And it blows away with the changing wind
The waters turn from blue to red
As towards the sky I offer it”
And just like that, the towering king towers no more.
The timid little girl took her opportunity, using it to her fullest advantage. It was her time to grow. It was her time to blossom into a flower instead of forever staying a shivering little sprout.
When King Midas reached out to grab her, she let him get as close as possible even though her mind kept yelling that ‘this is crazy and completely stupid!’ She knew the slightest touch meant doom, but he had to be close. He had to be close enough for her knife to slip in and out, taking away his life before he could realize what happened.
It was then that the rest of the gift fell into place. But, we don’t see that happen in “Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up).” It isn’t until “King,” after 13 long years, that the consequences of the gift were revealed:
“I need my golden crown of sorrow, my bloody sword to swing
My empty halls to echo with grand self-mythology
I am no mother, I am no bride, I am King”
With King Midas gone, another king is needed. The girl took his life, even put her own life in danger, in exchange for pushing away her scared self. She took the opportunity, in the form of a chance for power, knowing it could infect her.
She could become the new king. She could become the new King Midas. She did become the new king. She did become the new King Midas.
The new title is a burden for the young girl. King Midas is gone, but the curse of being a king never leaves the earth.
You made the choice. You were the one who decided to take a life instead of being the life taken. The only person to blame is you.
Yes. But, it’s so much.
If it’s so much then you should’ve decided differently. You have to face the fact that you’re king now. You are the greedy king who fights in wars and boasts his greatness all the while wearing an extravagant crown and faking a smile for all of his loyal subjects. You can’t turn back now. You can’t go back to that day. You’re stuck right where you are.
Or is it?