Through reflective lyrics, the below writers advise us to keep moving forward.
Although the world doesn’t always move vertically, we, as individuals, must continue to stay the course.
We must question the motives behind our decisions so that we can live in alignment with our soul’s purpose. We must strive to avoid the egotistical tendencies of the diseased mind, to be aware of others with these propensities and to forbid them from disrupting our journey.
The writers ask us to remain in the present by avoiding frivolous activities that prevent us from living, to fight the tendencies of the head and let your heart lead your toward an enlightened life, to embrace your authentic self once you’ve met him/her, to love it unconditionally and show it to the world.
Together, through reflection, we can work toward a collective consciousness filled with empowerment and compassion.
1) Ages and Ages—Divisionary (Do The Right Thing)
Do the right thing do the right thing
Do it all the time do it all the time
Make yourself right, nevermind them
Don’t you know you’re not the only one suffering
Look what you’re up against, all the disingenuous.
They wave you along
and say there’s always room for us.
But we know better than that
to take them serious. Still don’t let them make
you bitter in the process.
Cuz they ain’t moving, they’re just moving around
So if you love yourself, you better get out
get out, get out, get out
You’ll either be thanking me or sending me hate mail for getting this song stuck in your head for the foreseeable future. With that being said, if I were a parent, I’d share this with my children immediately and let them get indoctrinated by all of its goodness.
Given today’s prevalence of peer pressure and bullying, this is a positive anthem for the young underdog. But, let’s be honest “They are not the only ones suffering.” We adults can also take the advice from this anthem. This song is a simple reminder that we cannot control the world and others negativity, “cause they ain’t moving, they’re just moving around.” Love yourself, know that you are not alone and do the right thing!
2) Fink—Looking Too Closely
This is a song about somebody else
So don’t worry yourself, worry yourself
The devil’s right there right there in the details
And you don’t wanna hurt yourself, hurt yourself
Looking too closely
Looking too closely
No no no no!
This song is a tribute to poetic simplicity. The opening line is meant to protect us (the listener), and our universal insecurities. Fink tells us to stop looking so closely at ourselves and comparing our bruised self-images to the airbrushed Hollywood starlets or buff athletes.
“The devil’s right there in the detail” and the more we harp on our own aging or shortcomings, the more we’ll worry and eventually hurt ourselves. A reminder that our own magnified flaws are unseen by the world when we finally decide to love them. The more you believe in your own inner and outer beauty, the more the universe will agree. Let your soul shine through.
The truth is that I never shook my shadow
Every day it’s trying to trick me into doing battle
Calling out ‘faker’ only get me rattled
Wanna pull me back behind the fence with the cattle
Building your lenses
Digging your trenches
Put me on the front line
Leave me with a dumb mind
With no defenses
But your defense is
If you can’t stand to feel the pain then you are senseless
I’ve grown up some
Different kinda fighter
And when the darkness come, let it inside you
Your darkness is shining
My darkness is shining
Have faith in myself
I wanna only love til I’m only loving
I swear to god I’m only loving.
Trying to be loving, loving, loving, loving, loving, loving, love
Yes I’m only loving, yes I’m trying to only love
I swear to god I’m trying but I’m only loving
Ya say it ain’t loving, loving, loving, loving, love my love
Truth, in the context of this song, is the wholeness of ourselves or the ying and yang of our being. The first verse is filled with war metaphors suggesting the internal battle within the writer. He cannot “shake his shadow” and is continuously mocked by it for trying to futilely escape his dark past and current desires.
By the end of the song, Alexander has accepted his dark side and chooses to love it. Because we are God’s creatures, there is perfection even in our darkness. “Your Darkness is shining, my darkness is shining.” The song ends with an affirmation of love that seems to be more forced than natural; another sign of the internal struggle within, and a stark reminder that loving yourself fully is hard work.
4) James Vincent McMorrow—We Don’t Eat
Me I was holding, all of my secrets soft and hid
Pages were folded, then there was nothing at all
So if in the future I might need myself a savior
I’ll remember what was written on that wall
That we don’t eat until your father’s at the table
We don’t drink until the devil’s turned to dust
Never once has any man I’ve met been able to love
So if I were you, I’d have a little trust
Am I an honest man and true
Have I been good to you at all
Oh I’m so tired of playing these games
We’d just be running down
The same old lines, the same old stories of
Breathless trains and, worn down glories
Houses burning, worlds that turn on their own
A personal journey of religious doubt, a younger James struggles with trying to understand God through “folded pages” and an escape to nature. Inevitably, he always come back to his mother’s religious mantra. Like most of us, we really don’t have another option but to trust in God.
Through all of his struggles, the nostalgia brings the writer back. The chorus provides beautiful theological imagery as God (father) and the devil are mentioned at the dinner table. His mother’s tell him that she has never met anyone who can love her as God does, and this alone is reason to believe. It’s a beautiful representation of our mindful limitations and the liberation we will find by surrendering to our faith.
5) Sara Bareilles—Brave
Maybe there’s a way out of the cage where you live
Maybe one of these days you can let the light in
Show me how big your brave is
Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave
A refreshing, feel good anthem about being your authentic self and expressing yourself in all of your glory. We all have a voice, and with good intentions we can change the world and others in a positive way. The song was inspired by Sara’s close friend who struggled with coming out with being gay.
The song lends meaning to just about anything else someone could be afraid to tell another person or the world. Everyone is unique and has something to lend to others. It does take bravery to “let the words fall out” but when we do, only then are we truly free. This song is an anthem for living free in mind, body & spirit. Amazing video as well.
6) Bahamas—Lost In the Light
I’m lost in the light
I pray for the night
To take me, to take me to
After so many words
Still nothing’s heard
Don’t know what we should do
So if someone can see me now, let them see you
It was my greatest thrill
But we just stood still
You let me hold your hand ’til I had my fill
Even countin’ sheep
Don’t help me sleep
I just toss and turn right there beside you
So if someone could help me now, they’d help you too.
A rare breakup song that celebrates a parting through an upbeat tone. Both the writer and his significant other had to experience the relationship as they now have learned to love. A successful relationship is one that allows us to emotionally mature and learn.
Sometimes these relationships, even with all of their successes, don’t last. However, your next and possibly last love (in this case “someone”) will not only see you, but also the reflection of that past lover that helped you to complete your journey and taught you how to love.
7) Mumford And Sons—Winter Winds
As the winter winds litter London with lonely hearts
Oh the warmth in your eyes swept me into your arms
Was it love or fear of the cold that led us through the night?
For every kiss your beauty trumped my doubt
And my head told my heart
Let love grow
But my heart told my head
This time no
This time no
The winter represents our own loneliness without love. He questions whether it was “love or the warmth in her eyes that attracted him.” His early doubt was always suppressed by shallow hoaxes (“your beauty trumped my doubt.”) The remaining lyrics speak of the struggle between the head and the heart. Although, the writer wants to love this woman, he simply cannot. He doesn’t feel love for her the way he should.
This is an honest account of motives in love. When we pursue someone or something to fill a void of loneliness or distress, the heart will eventually remind you. Unlike the mind, It can never be fooled.
8) Sarah Jaffe—Don’t Disconnect
Pretty soon, I’ve got to go
But the sooner I leave, the sooner I can come home.
Do you still feel me?
Don’t disconnect yet, don’t disconnect yet.
Go ahead just ask me, all of the questions, left in your head.
Don’t disconnect yet, don’t disconnect yet
Don’t disconnect yet.
Do you still feel me?
Do you still feel me?
Do you still feel me?
At first, it sounds like the writer is pleading to a man to stay in a relationship. Listening more closely, you realize that the song touches on the technological alienation and social media overload that its title suggests.
Jaffe asks over and over, “do you still feel me?” as if to imply her numbness and isolation from human emotion. There are only two non-repetitive lyrics in the song and they both imply rushed and awkward socialization. A testament to the brevity in communication with others, including parents, lovers and even friends. Jaffe’s haunting melody is a futuristic summons against modernity where increased human interaction is becoming robotic, impersonal and burdensome.
9) NIN—Right Where It Belongs
What if everything around you,
Isn’t quite as it seems?
What if all the world you think you know,
Is an elaborate dream?
And if you look at your reflection,
Is that all you want to be?
What if you could look right through the cracks,
Would you find yourself, find yourself afraid to see?
Trent wrote this when he was almost 40 years old, a more mature artist and perhaps more introspective on life. Trent asks himself and you, whether you will buy into the conventional life or even the life that you’ve convinced yourself you wanted. Is the shelter you’ve built for yourself, actually a cage? Do the choices you’ve made fill your soul with purpose or instead hollowness?
The song forces the listener to question whether they are living an authentic life or one that is an illusion. The song reminds us that there are no second chances at life.
10) Eddie Vedder—Society
It’s a mystery to me
We have a greed
With which we have agreed
You think you have to want
More than you need
Until you have it all you won’t be free
Vedder’s words have never resonated more deeply as this world battles terrorism inspired by religious beliefs, urban racial wars, divided politics and Capitalistic Greed. Within all of this chaos, we have to ask ourselves what is this all for? The longings of wealth, external power, materialism have never proven successful. Yet, we continue to think we shall be set free once these desires are finally achieved.
Society in many ways has become a “crazy breed.” We can only hope that we can once again get back to our pure forms and love each other and this earth with compassion. We need to unite, recognize that our differences are beautiful and that we already have everything we need to be happy.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Robert Pistor
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Vikramdeep Sidhu/Flickr