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Lyrical Dissonance: Musical Musings…

I don’t normally write about music here… probably because I know next-to-nothing of music. I couldn’t pick most modern musicians out of a line-up. Not in a “modern musicians suck” sort of way, but in a “I don’t really listen to the radio, and therefore pop music” sort of way. So I’m actually even less qualified than a layman to talk of music and such. Still, I have to admit that I am fascinated at how so few people who rate so many classic songs so highly seem to be aware of what the song they’re listening to (or singing along to) is even about. While it isn’t anything that “grinds my gears”, I am still a little amused every time I hear Every Breath You Take played at a wedding, or Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) played at graduation.

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Thoughts on Meaning…

So what does this cartoon mean?

It shows how the depletion of our natural resources has pitted our small farmers against each other.

Yes, and birds go tweet, what else?

– College lecturer and student dissect Itchy & Scratchy, “Little Girl in the Big Ten”, The Simpsons

I had the pleasure of moving in with my better half last week, and we grew quite fond of listening to her “best of REM” CD – the excellent In Time. “Orange Crush” happened to play, and my significant other happened to remark that she greatly enjoyed the song. As we nodded in time to the music, I pondered aloud if she was familiar with the meaning of the song – she had been unaware of the origins of the Boomtown Rats’ “I Don’t Like Mondays”, for instance, or “What’s the Frequency Kenneth?” on the same CD. She admitted that she was not, so I offered her a brief synopsis over the discussion as to the “meaning” and “roots” of the song:

Orange Crush was an orange flavored soft drink. In this case, though, it was meant to refer to Agent Orange, a chemical used by the US to defoliate the Vietnamese jungle during the Vietnam War. US military personnel exposed to it developed cancer years later and some of their children had birth defects.

This was met with observations that I tend to “ruin” songs be talking about such things, implying that once you know something like that about a song it becomes a lot more difficult to nod your head along and join in on the chorus. Part of me wonders if the same is a little true of movies, in a manner of speaking – does over analysing and disecting them ultimately lead us to somewhat devalue them as entertainment?

It's actually about nuclear proliferation...

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