Thursday, September 25, 2008

The World Is Alive With Music

I was taking notes in history class today, and my professor noted the exodus of southern conservative Democrats from the Democratic party, and I was reminded of Bob Marley's Exodus:

"Open your lives and look within: Are you satisfied (with the life you're living?) We know where we're going. We know where we're from."

That is a great song for so many reasons. It makes me think about my identity: who am I? What do I think of the direction of my life right now? It's a great song for anyone in transition, anyone who is moving somewhere; a great reminder to remember where you've been, and where you're from.

Another great song for this kind of reflection, is Up Around the Bend by Creedence Clearwater Revival:

"There's a place up ahead, and I'm goin'. Just as fast as my feet can fly. Come away, come away, if you're goin'. Leave the sinkin' ship behind."

I love CCR. Fortunate Son is a great song, too:

"Some folks are made to wave the flag, oh, they're red, white, and blue."

That has nothing to do with this topic; I just think it's a great song.

There is so music that talks about people traveling, or being in transition. There is a great musical tradition for it. I love that about music, that you can identify with it at different points in your life, but the same song can mean completely differents things at different intervals and in different contexts. I love the emotion and the thought that a song can evoke in one's mind. I love songs: but I am constantly frustrated by my total inability to remember any lyrics.

Those lyrics I just gave you I had to look up on Google, actually. It's annoying because when you talk to people about music, they'll never believe that you listen to anything unless you can quote lyrics from it.

Which is funny, but I know why people do this: because a lot of people say that they like music when they actually don't, just to fit in or be seen differently. Our tastes in music identify us, and people relate to each other based on the type of music they listen to most often. So of course one would want to make sure that there wasn't a false basis in relating to someone by making sure that someone really does like the music he says he does.

But I just can't remember lyrics, probably because I'm nearly obsessed with not butchering them. I like to know what music is saying, because music says a lot to me. I take music very seriously, even when I use it to relax. I believe that music says a great deal to everyone, but I am definitely greatly affected by my music. It influences the way I think and react to things, the way I see the world. So I want to know what I'm listening to. I'll even look up the lyrics to a song to see what it's saying. This is why I don't like music that is hard to decipher.

It seems to me that a lot of music that is popular now is about nothing; it doesn't mean anything. And when it does mean something, it's usually something stupid.

Music is all around me, the rhythms and beats and melodies of songs are like words in my imagination. I feel the beat is expressing certain emotions; the restlessness of Gershwin, the determination of Bob Marley, the exhuberance of a Strauss waltz. Most popular music just doesn't tell you any of these things. There's something missing. There's no soul. Just like laughter, music is a part of our soul. It defines who we are. And I believe that our music today says a great deal about who we are, and it's not good news.


Anonymous said...

I agree completely, Alex. Music is a part of our culture and always has been. It's also a part of who we are as people. It's interesting how much power it has over our lives. For example, I know I would have nothing in common with the person who said, "I like Soulja Boy." I also agree how modern music has lost any soul it once had.

Teleprompter said...

Yes, music is really powerful. It's always sad to see music be meaningless...something that has so much potential be so utterly wasted. What is the problem with society? Meaningless music, meaningless humor, meaningless rhetoric: it's depressing that so much of society lacks any of the purpose or soul it once had.

(Cue "The Sounds of Silence" by Simon and Garfunkel.)