Friday, July 29, 2011

More Words = More Bullshit

     Nothing quite matches the feeling of driving home in the rain. It's stimulating and meditative at the same time, as is the type of song I am compelled to discuss with you.
     Today something happened that left me feeling rejected and relieved at the same time. What it was doesn't matter, but it does matter that when I drove home I chose the company of older music. I felt vulnerable, and I wanted to let the vulnerability saturate me like the storm was doing to the earth. I wanted all the bullshit emotions from my ego and outward anxiety to be rinsed away. I wanted to go back to my roots, to my core.
     First I listened to Avril's second album, Under My Skin. Most notably, "Together" and "How Does It Feel?" were comforting. Soon after, I switched to the Goo Goo Dolls' most famous album, Dizzy Up The Girl. "Slide" and "Broadway" gave me that nurturing comfort, but the bullshit really started fading when I heard the first verse of "Bullet Proof."
     "Bullet Proof" wasn't released as a single and I can clearly see where it lacks in that department. It's not the most finely crafted piece of music, but that's not the point. The point is, when I heard that second couplet, "Do you like the way you feel?/Nothing hurts when no one's real", it tugged at my insides. I felt truth. Truth came in unannounced and saw me naked through my clothes. Here was truth, telling me I push people and opportunities away to avoid pain and rejection. Truth was telling me I'm not tough; not caring actually means I'm a big wimp. And it's not like I didn't know that before this moment. It's just that it hit me really hard when I heard the poetry.
     My moment with "Bullet Proof" compelled me to listen to a similar (but far superior) song when I got home. That song was "Glycerine" by Bush. A simple wash of chorus-propelled guitar allowed the lyrics to tug at my insides without competition. "I'm never alone/I'm alone all the time." "I couldn't change, though I wanted to." These were truths of my situation that had been obvious all along, yet missed like a door so close to my face that I couldn't see the edges.
     So, getting to the point...
     One of my biggest problems with music as of very recent is that it lacks the following - short, concise lines of mostly one-syllabic words set to immediately graspable rhyme schemes. I listen to a Taylor Swift song like "Back To December" and yes, it's reflective, but the lines are so long and wordy that it feels like a textbook analysis of heartbreak. She's thinking too much. It's not immediate. It's insincere.
     It's not like that one lyric in "Glycerine" that made my gut jerk like an answer to that Goo Goo Dolls song - "Must be for real/Cause now I can feel." It's a solid reminder that when I'm not guarding myself from people, I'm closer to the truth.
     Truth is where I want to get to. Desire for truth is what got me into music in the first place. Too-long lines usually get in the way of truth.
     More words = more bullshit.



  1. Masculine rhyme schemes and proponents of said rhyme scheme = bullshit in my book I'm afraid.

  2. "no one's real" really tugs at your insides? Maybe a personal thing but when I hear these huge over-arching platitudes, I really tune out. It just sounds like an immature child whining.

    I think lyrics should be clear, I agree with you on that. But I also think they should have substance and actually be saying something that is of some use to someone. For if "no one" is truly "real", then what's the point of the statement? It's like saying everyone has two hands. And what does "real" even mean?

    If you do like those lyrics then you should spend more time in teen songwriting camps - that's all they know how to do is "YOU'RE NOT REAL / I CAN'T FEEL / TAKE IT ALL AWAY" etc.

  3. Foremost, I must make it clear that this is an opinion piece. I am not arguing my aesthetics to be fact. Also you should check out my earlier post, "It Depends On Your Aesthetic" :-)

    @Dani, I favor masculine rhyme schemes for being more hard hitting. Also, hi, do I know you? :-)

    @Keith, yes, I know what you mean by vague over-arching platitudes, but I think in some cases it works. Here, the music these lyrics are set to is meditative, so I think it is actually appropriate to use lyrics that ask for interpretation and some subconscious understanding. As for me, I don't tune out and loose direction so long as the music fits. The lyrics in the context of the musical vibe is crucial.
    That couplet was always pretty clear to me. "Do you like the way you feel?/Nothing hurts when no one's real." When no one's real to you, it means you don't let anyone get close enough to you to have impact on your life. The price is you don't experience the feelings that people are born for. You're numb.
    Form has always been more determining of how I react to a song than the content itself, and that goes right down to the forms within the greater form. Shorter lines always felt more real to me, more immediate. With the right combination of feet, rhyme scheme and placement, ordinary words feel incredibly wise.

  4. Of course it's opinion... did I sound like I was accusing you of acting as though it was a matter of fact?

    I do agree that with someone like Avril or other similar top 40 pop-punk artists, the lyrics do indeed match the music (although you know what I think of the music, too).

    I suppose it's a personal preference, because when I hear an under-stated lyric it moves me much more than these platitudes. I suppose because to me, it feels more real and true and mature. If a 14 year old mind is sad about something, well, she's 14 - probably being melodramatic. But if 30 or 40 year-old-type lyrics are sad, then to me it's like shit, this is actually pointing out something that's ACTUALLY sad. Just an example, and of course just my opinion.

    Keep up the good work.