Music Monday: Kate

About the Song

Music Monday: Kate by Intisaar Jubran
‘Kiss the Girls’ movie poster

I am fascinated by portrayals of damsels in distress, particularly those who surmount their predicaments and become their own saviors.

Among my favorite heroines, one who exemplifies all of my favorite traits of the victim-turned-hero is Kate McTiernen. In the novel ‘Kiss the Girls‘, she overcomes her captor and narrowly escapes a brutal death. With her help, the masked man who abducted her is defeated before he has a chance to hurt or kill his other captives.

What I love about this story is how fiercely she fights for her life, even as she is challenged by a physically much stronger individual who has applied his considerable intellect to the task of containing and controlling her. Her mental tenacity, coupled with self-discipline, give her a remarkable advantage in an otherwise doomed situation.

The lyrics of the song ‘Kate’ are based loosely on her struggle and eventual victory. The instrumental segment in the middle of the song describes her frantic escape through thick woods. I continue to find strength in the lyrics, especially when I perform them live. The obvious metaphor of overcoming one’s own demons, or the difficulties of life, by choosing to be a problem-solver rather than a victim, continues to hold profound weight with me. The decision to survive is as vital to any living being as a beating heart.

About the Composition

Kate by Intisaar Jubran music lyrics
Intisaar Jubran – Musician

This song was written in one straight shot in an apartment in the Greenwood area of Seattle, WA. At the time, I was preparing to record a 5-song EP, and was also attending my second-to-last quarter of school at the University of Washington.

I wanted a rather beautiful classical progression that I had learned from a teacher in my early-twenties, which involves stretching the pinky and index fingers of the fretting hand over a large portion of the fretboard to create an open G chord. I enjoyed the way all of the strings of the guitar were utilized, and that several notes were left ringing to create an almost dissonant effect. I decided on a slow 4/4 time signature because it flowed easily with the working melody that I had already composed. This slow tempo, coupled with the major key, created an almost lullaby-like and pleasant feel, which juxtaposed with the dark nature of the character’s circumstances in a way that I find meaningful.

As I sang the song, I realized that the lyrics would be written from an external source looking upon the protagonist as she fights her way to freedom. This represents not only the reflective nature of the song, but also the tendency that I (and many others) have of seeking an external source of encouragement, even when we are the ones urging ourselves to keep going. Imagining the voice of a guardian angel, a loved one, or even god, when speaking to oneself during times of great adversity, is an age-old and perplexing tendency. The song utilizes this in an organic way, one that occurred naturally as I empathized with Kate’s struggle.

‘Kate’ – Lyrics

Kate, dancing with the dark
Holding on with all your spark
Kate, hiding underground,
know that you can’t make a sound

Burning a hole through
the greatest night of your life
your life
the night remembers you
your name
your name

Kate, sleeping on your feet
Running for the street
Screaming out your name
You won’t play his game
no, no,
Burning a hole through
The light that divides you
Screaming for freedom
but I’m not like you, I’m not like you
Hoping to get out
Hoping won’t get you out
You’ve got to claw through!
You’ve got to claw through!
got to claw through!

Kate, I know you’ll survive
You’ve got to survive
You’ve got to survive!