Lazy Luddite Log

11.3.11

The Shadows In The Park

I have over time got more into the lyrics of songs. Never as much as many of my friends. I am perfectly content to never know or understand all the words of a song. But I appreciate the emotional impact a good line has on me. And that impact can happen even if I misunderstand the words. Here is one such misunderstanding:

The shadows in the park belong to yesterday...

That is what I had always assumed a line from Home by Jethro Tull was. It transpires that the line is in fact:

The shadows in the park were longer yesterday...

My version works much better for me. The words as intended simply refer to the passage of time. Mine evokes memory of past experiences. I imagine someone visiting their old neighbourhood and walking past a park in which they store some long-distant recollection. What are they remembering? Playing on the swings and missing the simplicity of childhood? Reclining on the grass with a long-lost lover and feeling a momentary frisson of that? Walking a family dog that has been replaced many times since and feeling a sudden pang of loss? For me the shadows are memory-images superimposed over the static scene of the empty darkening suburban park and it may in fact be too late for there to be many light-shadows.

I prefer songs that explore life in a frank way that recognizes the mixed experiences we have and seeks to come to terms with them. There are plenty with a dose of reality - these words come to mind:

And it seems such a waste of time
If that's what it's all about
If that's moving up then I'm
Moving out!


However I have an admission to make - I also enjoy the sentimental stuff that sells us a distorted image of life and love. Dammit! I am critical of songs as part of the culture - traditional and popular - that fills us with expectations that only sometimes work for us and yet I still enjoy all that silly "And then I saw her face (da-da-da-da-da) Now I'm a believer!" How do I reconcile my critical perspective with my emotive joy at these songs? Well one thing to say is that I also like Star Wars and Lord Of The Rings even if I know that Jedi and Istari are imaginary. But there is more to it than that.

Songs exist to make us understand the experiences of others - I can seek to understand them even if I feel differently. I hardly need to fully endorse every tiny thing that comes into my life. Okay Monkees take it away now! Dig that sweet mushy lilly-white groove!

Cross-posted here.

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3 Comments:

  • Songs quoted:

    * Home by Jethro Tull (1979)

    * Anthony's Song (Moving Out) by BIlly Joel (1977)

    * I'm A Believer by The Monkees (1966) and written by Neil Diamond

    By Blogger Daniel, At 11 March, 2011  

  • Life and love is complicated and multifaceted. The feel-good romantic music may be a disproportional view of love, simply by the fact that there's so much of it compared to music portraying other complexities, but it doesn't mean it's wrong. And why not enjoy the good stuff as well as wallowing in the down side.

    By Anonymous Emily, At 14 March, 2011  

  • Hey Em

    Well yes a mix is always nice. I think I misrepresented the more complex or realist stuff however. It can be there for wallowing but it can also be cathartic or evocative. There can be anger in it but also joy and excitement and understanding.

    By Blogger Daniel, At 16 March, 2011  

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