What Are You Holding On To?

Album: High Noon (2014)
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Songfacts®:

  • Arkells do not shy away from writing about tough subject matters. They often write about politics and religion in songs like "The Ballad of Hugo Chavez," "Heart of the City," "The Choir," and "Whistleblower." The seventh track "What Are You Holding On To?" on their third album High Noon falls into this category as well. The song is about accountability not just to your god, but to everyone in your community and people you do not know.
  • The chorus goes:

    What are you holding on to?
    You're just talking to the stars above you
    What are you holding on to?
    You're saying that only God can judge ya


    Arkells frontman, Max Kerman, explained in our interview that he has always hated the expression, "Only God can judge me." He confessed that he thinks saying that is just a way of getting out of having to take responsibility for your actions. "Pleading as if you have it tough so you're only going to look out for yourself, I always find that to be a little discouraging," he said.
  • "What Are You Holding On To?" is a great example of Arkells combining serious topics in their lyrics with upbeat, danceable melodies. Max Kerman told us that he always loved how The Clash fused those two elements together so well. He was listening to a lot of The Clash while writing High Noon, which explains why numerous songs on the album are written in that similar vein.
  • The line in the first verse of the song, "You put baby in a corner, we'll be dirty dancing all night," is referencing the 1987 cult classic movie, Dirty Dancing, starring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey. The lyrics are borrowing from one of the most well-known scenes in the film when Johnny (Swayze) gets Baby (Grey) from her table for the final dance and says, "Nobody puts Baby in a corner."

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