Sunday, November 16, 2008

"You're All That I Have"

Being a music fan is, in a large part, about hero worship. Or an extreme kind of respect at the very least.
Musicians do what we, for the most part, can't. They gather and wrap up the enormity of our feelings, our excitements, our thoughts and desires and they package them such that we zero in and bounce alongside them in perfect synch.
Musicians' and songwriters' ability to do the seeming impossible, to hold up a mirror to ourselves, generates this visceral reaction, this quasi-adoration that takes us over and drives us straight to the local record store.
If you're overjoyed, excited because it's a hot summer and everyone's outdoors and having fun, what other song could there possibly be but "Dancing In The Streets"? If you're love-lorn, feeling as if your love has just torn apart the entire fabric og your life, you can turn to the hope that rests in anything from the Hothouse Flowers' first album. And if you're a confused and distressed teen who can't seem to find your place in the world, there are any number of songs out there who speak directly to your concerns too.
So our relationship with musicians andd writers starts with this wholesale, blind fan-dom - we paper the walls of our rooms with pictures, drawings, quotations, we dress like them, we cop their attitudes.
And when they do something that hits a wrong note with us, we feel a vague sense of betrayal. All that seeming faultless insight, all those moments when we curled into a tight ball and felt the swell of power, derived from someone else's empathy just evaporate. We reject them.
But what about when we screw up? Who writes the song for the mistakes we make, the regrets we pile up and stare at, stacked up against our bedroom wall? Hardly anyone. See, rock and roll isn't about self-awareness. It's not about maturity. It's more about feeling injustice, feeling hard done by, feeling rebellious: it's all focused outwardly. And it just doesn't include taking time out to look at yourself.
So for anyone out there who's made mistakes, recognised them and wanted to find the sort of song that maybe speaks to the bright light of self-awareness, I don't think there's one out there. Not lyrically, anyway.
But for mood, that's a whole other thing, and I think this song does carry that mood. There's a restless sense of desperation, the kind of feeling that you get when the ground opens up beneath your feet and you realise that the feet of clay you're suddenly sporting will drag you to the bottom of it, sure as eggs are eggs. There's panic, there's passion and sheer sweaty dread too. When we come face to face with our own failures and their consequences, that's what we feel, I think.
Listen to the song, watch the clip. Tell me if I'm wrong. And if there is another song out there that speaks of human weakness and failing, then let's hear it!

1 comment:

Betty C. said...

I haven't had time to look at the video (rushing off comments as I get ready for work) but I would say that two songs that may fall into your category are:

Growing Up by Bruce Springsteen

and My Back Pages by Bob Dylan

"Good and bad I defined these terms, so clear no doubt somehow,
Oh but I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now."

Maybe they're more songs about errors in judgment or the inevitable errors of youth..and perhaps they're not really rock and roll songs. I guess that depends on the definition you're working from.