I can deeply feel the emotion bound up in a song’s melody, but if you add lyrics to a song, they have to be of a certain kind or I can’t listen any longer. I’m more attracted to the lyrics than the catchiness of the tune. I had a friend once tell me that to him, the singer was just like another instrument which he barely even pays attention to. I’m very different. The lyrics matter to me.
If a song has trashy or depressing lyrics, I feel like someone is pouring a black dye into the streams of my mind. I feel it emotionally, physically, and mentally. The misery or happiness of the song’s writer is palpable. My mind quickly syncs with the singer and I often want to break that connection as soon as possible. A song’s lyrics grow out of the soil of that writer’s mind. They tell you what that person’s made out of. I deeply feel their emotions, dreams, and frustrations pouring into me.
I’ve tried to live my life by my own rules, following my own path. Because of that, I’ve had very different life experiences and I rarely resonate with song lyrics. A beautiful melody seems to transcend words, always properly communicating the emotion. Once you add lyrics, you quickly run into disconnects in communication due the limitations in words. I wonder if that’s why many great composers decide not to accompany their music with lyrics or singing? I don’t know. But I wanted to share some songs I do resonate with.
Yoko Kanno – Strangers
I’ll slowly dissect the lyrics, and what I hear as the song plays.
We’ve found a kind of paradise
In a flowers bloom.
To seek out what’s beautiful and wonderful in the world. Deeply examine what you’re experiencing and you’ll find paradise.
We’ve shared the thoughts that two could share,
We feel the truth, magic that we send
Your personal identity is unique, magical, and should be shared with others. We ‘feel the truth’. Your personal subjective experience is important. These days, we’re often told that if you learn the “truth” of this world, you’re just an insignificant monkey, wandering the surface of this planet in a vast cosmos which doesn’t care about you at all. Is that true? Whatever you say to that, remember, how you feel and what you experience is one of the deepest truths in this world. It matters. Don’t ignore it or belittle it. Just because the universe is huge, allowing an infinite variety of experiences, don’t let that overwhelm you and leave you feeling insignificant. Send your magic out into the world and into others. You’re worth knowing about.
Imagine if there was a great machine of which all the parts were self-aware. Each part then stopped what it was doing because it couldn’t be all the other parts at once. “I’m insignificant I’m such a small part of this machine.” So you make it the whole machine and then it says, “Where is everybody? I’m totally alone in a vast emptiness!” You make it another part and it screams out again, “I’m insignificant. I’m such a small part of this machine.” You are the whole of the universe acting at the time and place which is you. Let the world flow into you, remold its contents in your special way, and then let your creations flow back out. Let the other parts around you do the same.
Acting like your feelings and emotions don’t matter is like being an engineer over this vast machine and all the individual parts are screaming out, “I’m overheating.” Another cries out, “I’m damaged.” Another, “I’m no longer able to function. I don’t have the materials I need.” Instead of listening to the system’s feedback, the engineer just yells out, “Who cares! You’re all insignificant! What matters is the grand machine!” There is no machine without the functioning of the parts. Let your true feelings be known. The machine can’t be fixed any other way.
Also, notice how Kanno says, “the thoughts that two could share.” In a world obsessed with fame, twitter followers, how many friends you can have on your Facebook page, and all that other nonsense, let your communications be personal and meaningful.
This all reminds me of a discussion Carl Jung once had with a student. A patient told Jung that she woke up one morning on the moon. The student said the patient was hallucinating. Jung then replied, “No, she really was on the moon.” There’s a truth to what we experience. Don’t belittle it.
Searching for something new
Isle of Gold in flowers’ bloom
Let the world reveal itself to you, always searching and finding, experiencing an island of gold in a flower’s beauty.
We’ve walked the earth in solitude,
So cold we need the warmth of sun.
The world can be a lonely place, but stay on your own path. The sun will rise, warm things up, and light the way. Trust the world.
We’ve lived the life that we could live,
We see the truth, magic that begins
You did everything you could. You deeply observed the world and saw that at its deepest levels, we live in a very magical place. It’s always evolving, changing, and a new magic is beginning. It never gets old.
We’ve found a kind of paradise,
Below a sky so new.
Always search and explore and the world will continually be reborn.
We’ve weaved a web of mystery so wide,
We need the light of day.
As you search the world, you’ll find yourself in a deeply interconnected web of mystery. The puzzle of our existence is so wide and bizarre, the world has to give itself to you one piece at a time, one moment at a time, so that our feeble minds can follow what’s going on.
So when will it end?
So when, when will we meet, my friend?
How long will we live in this world, how long will we experience this universe? Hopefully we’ll meet soon! It’s a friendly gesture toward the others living here, welcoming, and loving.
Joni Mitchell – Both Sides Now
Bows and flows of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
I’ve looked at clouds that way
But now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way
I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It’s cloud illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all
If you seriously consider anything you experience in this life, you’ll find there’s nearly an infinite number of ways that a moment or memory can be spun. The events in our lives can be interpreted any which way. What does that say about our understanding of this life? We could come to the conclusion that Mitchell does: maybe we don’t know life, love, or this universe at all? After all, despite all the words and logic in our head, no matter how long we think about things, we oftentimes just spin in circles. Then again, maybe the world doesn’t care so much about the ultimate “truth”, but more so how we interpret and feel about an experience, and what we plan to do next with that new found information? It’s a universe of doing and action. Of movement and change. What will you do with what you’ve been given, with what you have available to you at the moment? Continue down this road, or will you change course?
Enya – Caribbean Blue
So the world goes round and round
With all you ever knew
They say the sky high above
Is Caribbean blue
We oftentimes get stuck in a routine, stuck in a world which just goes round and round, with the same old same old. But sometimes we hear a whisper, ‘they say the sky high above is Caribbean blue!’
If every man says all he can,
If every man is true,
Do I believe the sky above
Is Caribbean blue
Does anyone have any idea what they’re talking about, or not? Assuming some truth to these small whisperings, do I believe there’s hope for my life? Is the sky high above Caribbean blue? She seems to be asking whether you believe there’s anything worth pursuing. If there’s anything worth knowing. If there’s anything worth experiencing.
If all you told was turned to gold,
If all you dreamed were new,
Imagine sky high above
In Caribbean blue
The future begins in the hearts and minds of all of us. How we treat one another, what we say, how we act. If you’re going to dream and set the course for the future, set your sights high above to Caribbean blue skies!
I know that people get sick of hearing this sort of thing, especially in a world with such wealth inequality and unemployment. There are signs that we’re going to use up the resources of our planet and send ourselves into extinction. But I’ve noticed people who gives themselves to that kind of pessimism rarely are doing anything to change the world’s course. Don’t be in their number. If the other parts are malfunctioning, try to pick up the slack and set off every alarm you can that something is wrong!