In Billie Holliday's song "You go to my head," what are some figurative tools(figure of speech) used? I have discovered a lot of methaphors, alliteration, simile, and hyperbole, but I am not sure...

In Billie Holliday's song "You go to my head," what are some figurative tools(figure of speech) used? I have discovered a lot of methaphors, alliteration, simile, and hyperbole, but I am not sure of the rest. Are tools like bathos, situational irony, or paradox used?

lyrics: 

You go to my head
And you linger like a haunting refrain
And I find you spinning round
In my brain
Like the bubbles in a glass of champagne
You go to my head
Like a sip of sparkling burgundy brew
And I find the very mention of you
Like the kicker in a julep or two
The thrill of the thought
That you might give a thought
To my plea casts a spell over me
Still I say to myself
Get a hold of yourself
Can't you see that it never can be?
You go to my head with a smile
That makes my temperature rise
Like a summer with a thousand Julys
You intoxicate my soul with your eyes
Though I'm certain that this heart of mine
Hasn't a ghost of a chance
In this crazy romance
You go to my head
You go to my head...

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lorrainecaplan's profile pic

Lorraine Caplan | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

"You Go to My Head," composed by Coots, with lyrics by Gillespie, is a wonderful example of the use of figures of speech. It has become a standard, sung by many, from Billie Holiday to Frank Sinatra to Rod Stewart.  The primary literary devices to be found are similes, metaphors, and hyperbole.

Simile is present when the writer is comparing one thing to another. It uses words such as "like" or "as."  So, each line that includes "like" in this song is a simile.  The first is "like a haunting refrain" (1) and the second is "like the bubbles in a glass of champagne" (5).  There are three more similes in the song that you can find simply by looking for "like." 

Metaphors do not compare one thing to another. They say one thing is another, for example, as one might say "my heart is a bitter fruit."  For the singer to say "You go to my head" is a form of metaphor that can also be called figurative language.  No one "goes to" anyone else's head literally. The singer is saying that her lover is making her brain and later on in the song, her soul, feel intoxicated. 

It could be said that this song is an example of an extended metaphor and similes, since there is a common element running through both, the element of beverages that intoxicate a person.  We have "a glass of champagne," (5) "burgundy brew" (7), and "a julep or two" (9).  All of these are alcoholic drinks that can intoxicate. 

Hyperbole is exaggeration, and of course, there is some of that in the song, too.  To say that one's temperature can rise "like a summer with a thousand Julys"(18) is a bit over the top, I would say, but then again, so is love! 

Sources:

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