Monday, January 18, 2016

More Than Words

I, like many of you, am a music lover. We listen via different means: through the scritch scritch of vinyl records; highly compressed MP3s over cheap ear buds that came with our iPhones; or, sitting right next to the speakers while the band jams their third set at the local tavern. No matter the method, there is something magical in the consumption of music.

My wife and I listen with different ears. She is a lyric person. She can tell you the words of most any song (given enough time and repetition), whereas I would need the lyrics to songs I had been singing over and over for years on the worship team. I'm an instrumental person. I play blues harmonica (which is one of those instruments you can't play and sing with simultaneously). I also play percussion, and, as a person from a predominantly Caucasian family, I have no rhythm. I'm the weird guy who actually counts while playing a tambourine. Needless to say, I can't very well sing while trying to keep the rhythm.

When I listen to a song, the singer's voice is just one more instrument in the mix. I remember listening to Sarah McLachlin's "Angel" (before it came to be synonymous with abandoned puppies) for weeks before I realized she was singing words. I was just so mesmerized by the SOUND of her voice, and the way she used it.

So, when the lyrics do come apparent, there is a lot to be said for having GOOD lyrics.

The other day, my wife played me two songs (over her iPhone speaker . . . Yeah, I know . . .): "What Makes You Beautiful" by One Direction, and "Locked Away" by R. City feat. Adam Levine. Take a moment and check them out.

Musically, they are both really good. They have great hooks that kick those endorphins into gear. Lyrically? That's a horse of a different name. (I may be mixing "horse of a different color" and "I went to the desert on a horse with no name" - whatever!)

"You're insecure,
Don't know what for,
You're turning heads when you walk through the door,
Don't need make-up, to cover up,
Being the way that you are is enough

Everyone else in the room can see it,
Everyone else but you

Baby you light up my world like nobody else,
The way that you flip your hair gets me overwhelmed,
But when you smile at the ground it ain't hard to tell,
You don't know, oh oh,
You don't know you're beautiful,
If only you saw what I can see,
You'll understand why I want you so desperately,
Right now I'm looking at you and I can't believe,
You don't know, oh oh,
You don't know you're beautiful, oh oh,
That's what makes you beautiful."

© Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd., BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC)

Now, do me a favor and go back and read those lyrics again SLOWLY. The words are a contrast to the music's upbeat rhythms and instrumentation. And that is okay! Ever give "Help" by The Beatles a good listen? The song is a CRY for help, but musically "you can dance to it"!

"What Makes You Beautiful" is a fantastic song. I for one, had no idea who One Direction was, but I walked away from that song thinking, "Yeah, that's good. What else you got?"

And now, the contrast:

"If I got locked away
And we lost it all today
Tell me honestly, would you still love me the same?
If I showed you my flaws
If I couldn't be strong
Tell me honestly, would you still love me the same?

Right about now…
If a judge for life me, would you stay by my side?
Or is you gonna say goodbye?
Can you tell me right now?
If I couldn't buy you the fancy things in life
Shawty, would it be alright?
Come on show me that you are down

Now tell me would you really ride for me?
Baby tell me would you die for me?
Would you spend your whole life with me?
Would you be there to always hold me down?
Tell me would you really cry for me?
Baby don't lie to me
If I didn't have anything
I wanna know would you stick around?

If I got locked away . . . "

© Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group, BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC)

Musically, the above is a really good song. But lyrically? The first line ended it for me: "If I got locked away". Later, "If a judge for life me". I get the impression that we have a borderline criminal here, who is simply testing the waters of a relationship. "Now tell me would you really ride for me? Baby tell me would you die for me?" Either that, or the singer is looking for a getaway driver.

I walked away from that song thinking, "I'm good. No, really. I don't need to hear another."

The difference? Not the music. I would love to hear an instrumental version of either song. But lyrically, the choice is simple. There is only so much time to listen to music. I'm not going to actively pursue negative lyrics shrouded in good music.

But maybe, just maybe, if there were pictures of abandoned puppies . . .

(Title: "More Than Words" - Extreme)

©Emittravel 2016

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