“Cecilia and the Satellite,” directed by Oliver Acostini, is the first single and music video to be released by Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness. The former Something Corporate and Jack’s Mannequin frontman ditched all alter-egos when releasing his new project under his own name this year, as well as a new label. Change was the necessary element behind McMahon’s album, notably in the first song, “Cecilia and the Satellite,” which is based on the arrival of his newborn daughter, Cecilia.
Although the song and album contain more pop elements compared to previous albums, McMahon’s style of writing and piano playing has never been so well constructed and honest. Lyrically, the song speaks about events in McMahon’s life, from typical adolescent mishaps to crashing his car at 17. The song also states McMahon has “been around the world with a punk rock band,” referring to Something Corporate, and noting that none of this is as rewarding as being with his daughter.
The video starts off with scenes of the ocean and the tide washing on shore, along with notes from the piano, slowly being played. We are then shown a young beautiful girl dressed in white, wearing a flower headband, relaxing on a still rowboat. The young girl is soaking up the rays and constantly looking up with a smile, which continues throughout the video. A noticeable theme of McMahon are his water and space references, implemented in his music, visually and lyrically.
Quickly the camera shows a rustic book with the name Cecilia written upon it, and tiny hands caressing the cover. Throughout the video, cameos of McMahon’s adorable daughter are seen sitting on his lap, while he tells her a story about a girl, also named Cecilia, and the Satellite. The video begins to unfold and mirror the lyrics and sketches shown in the book. “For all the things my eyes have seen / the best by far is you,” is sung as McMahon admires his daughter. The story comes to life as we visually watch a fictional version of Cecilia embark on her adventure.
The song’s tempo rises by the bridge, which is followed by repetitive comfort in the lyrics. “If I could fly / then I would know / what life looks like from up above and down below,” is sung as an aerial shot shows the world below, featuring Cecilia. Once again, motivation and courage are felt through the lyrics: “keep you safe / keep you dry / don’t be afraid Cecilia, I’m the satellite.”
Assuming Cecilia knows her father is watching over her, which explains why she is constantly looking up, she is prompted to go on an adventure. Cecilia, standing on the edge of the boat paired with white chucks, propels herself into the ocean as the chorus begins, which visually is beautiful. The journey of a fearless Cecilia embarking throughout the world, is continued through the video. We know this is a fictional adult version of Cecilia due to the scene where she grabs an orange blanket hanging from a tree, then seen in a different shot, McMahon is handing the same orange blanket to his infant daughter.
The video ends with an intimate moment in both realms of Cecilia. McMahon is with his daughter as the lyrics, “for all the things my hands have held / the best by far is you,” ends their tenderness. While in the fantasy, Cecilia is once again submerged into the water, and fades away into the night’s sky on her boat.
McMahon has always mentioned “getting high,” in terms of the vastness of space in his songs throughout Something Corporate and Jack’s Mannequin. For McMahon fans who know all the references, you will be happy to know that he’s a satellite, finally getting high because of his daughter, Cecilia.