May 27, 2007

Everything I Need to Know I Learned from Pop Music

My cyberpal Jennifer Jones has a lovely, uplifting blog called Goodness Graciousness. Her postings never fail to make me reflect, smile, and remember what we're all made of. Recently she added a YouTube clip of The Monkees theme song. I was a great fan of The Monkees' made-for-TV music back in the third or fourth grade, and enjoyed singing along to their simple lyrics: "People say we monkey around; but we're too busy singing to put anybody down."

I sang a lot of other songs too, some not so light and carefree:

"I just can't get over losing you
And so if I seem broken and blue
Walk on by, walk on by

Foolish pride
Is all that I have left
So let me hide
The tears and the sadness you gave me
When you said goodbye"

(Walk On By, by Burt Bachrach)

What an attitude to take on by the time you're nine years old! There's a painful belief in every line; ouch.

You know the way love songs take on deep meaning when you're in love? After I began questioning the concepts that caused me to suffer, the silliest songs took on deep meaning for me. I started to wonder if songwriters were all enlightened beings.

"Hey life, look at me
I can see the reality
'Cause when you took me, shook me out of my world
I woke up
Suddenly I just woke up
To the happening"

(The Happening, by Brian Holland et. al.)

The rest of that song isn't so uplifting, but you get my drift.

I didn't pay a lot of attention to the meaning of song lyrics in my youth. (As my mother complained, many of the words to the rock songs I listened to were barely audible anyhow.) However I can't help but think the words made an impression on me, consciously or not. While I wasn't too busy singing to put anybody down, especially myself...I wanted to be. I knew at at early age that being mean didn't feel right. I didn't know how to do it differently and not feel like an oyster out of its shell. Sometimes I still feel that way; unsafe, unprotected, broken.

And yet, moody or blue, I have always known my true nature. All of us have always known it.

"And when you stop and think about it
You won't believe its true
That all the love you've been giving
Has all been meant for you....
It's where we stop and look around us
There is nothing that we need"

(Question, The Moody Blues)

Sometimes we appear to forget who we are, that's all.

And the remembrance—being mindful once more—is so sweet, and a popular song.

©2007 by Carol L. Skolnick; all rights reserved.


Marianne said...

Oh! I loved the Monkees when I was a kid! Thanks for the smile....

Anonymous said...

Hey Carol,

Interesting - I've definitely noticed a change in my music tastes as I've lightened up - a big difference compared to 10 or so years ago - one of my favourites used to be Radiohead's "Creep":

I don't care if it hurts
I want to have control
I want a perfect body
I want a perfect soul
I want you to notice
When I'm not around
You're so fuckin special
I wish I was special

But I'm a creep, I'm a weirdo.
What the hell am I doing here?
I don't belong here.

Ouch - painful!

Nowadays I'm much more into uplifting music, like Marc Cohn's "Walking In Memphis" and Sting's "I was brought to my senses":

I walked out this morning
It was like a veil had been removed from before my eyes
For the first time I saw the work of heaven
In the line where the hills had been married to the sky
And all around me
Every blade of singing grass
Was calling out your name
And that our love would always last

Even though I suspect this song is about a woman that he loves, I much prefer to think it's just about life itself :-)

And the Monkees are cool - I'm going to post them on my blog as well.

With love and thanks, Jon

Jennifer said...

Hi Carol...

Very lovely post, full of memories and ideas to ponder.

As a young girl, I didn't pay much attention to the profound lyrics of many songs. I'm revising this!

Thanks sweetie..