'Today' is not a breakup song (said her favorite cylon), aka Readers here might prefer to listen to music like normal people do

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2007/10/21 17:01 -04:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2007/10/21/5582649.aspx


It is probably important for me to point out that a blog post represents a slice of life -- how I feel when I was writing it.

In fact, given that there are times I change my mind by the time I finish a post, it is possible to consider a blog post to be between 1 and 5 slices of life!

I find it easy to say things now like First the music, then the lyrics -- and make it rhyme! and act frustrated about how the lyrics and indeed the themes of songs are marginalized and at times even supplanted so easily.

But I did not always feel that way.

I used to quite passionately believe in the same thing that Seal expressed in the liner notes of his 1994 eponymous album:

    One of the most popular questions people seem to ask is "Why don't you print your lyrics on the album?". Well, the answer to that is that quite often, my songs mean one thing to me and another to the listener. But that's OK because I think it's the general vibe of what I'm saying that is important and not the exact literal translation. How many times have you fallen in love with a lyric that you thought went "Show me as day with Hilda Ogden and I'll despair," only to find that it went "Show me a way to solve your problems and I'll be there." I guess what I'm saying is that the song is always larger in the listeners mind because with it they attach imagery which is relative to their own personal experience. So it is your perception of what I'm saying rather than what I actually said that is the key.

But there are times that people cross the line -- what they mishear radically changes the theme of a song. And then I have to put my foot down.

It happened just last night, in fact. You see, Andrea called again.

Unlike last time, when she was expressing her epiphany about REM's Shiny Happy People and Moby's Beautiful, which ultimately was I think flawed, this time she had something different in mind.

She was expressing confusion.

Confusion inspired by me, apparently!

After seeing how interested I was in what was in the lyrics, you see, she has been listening to many of her old favorites, including an album that I had first recommended to her -- Jefferson Airplane's Surrealistic Pillow.

She was having trouble with Today.

I expressed perhaps outrage or some kind of "it's 2am and I'm not drunk but I am tired" equivalent over this idea. it was a beautiful expression of love, and the first time I ever fell in love it was the image of Grace Slick's powerful and haunting voice atop the lyrics of Balin and Kantner that gave words to something I couldn't really even express.

Admittedly the effort was mostly a waste (a) it didn't work out -- which was her idea not mine, and (b) she was more of a CSN/CSNY fan than one of the Airplane. So I kept the idea here to myself for the latter reason, one that I was late grateful to due to the former one.

But anyway, I was overpoweringly curious as to how she could have trouble with Today and its idealized view of love, its building momentum, its quiet ending. What was so troubling?

"If you would shut up and quit ranting over your crush on Grace Slick I would tell you, Michael!" she said, exasperated.

It turns out the trouble she had with the very first line, which she quickly crooned to me "Today, I feel like leaving you more than before."

Leaving?

Leaving?

Leaving?

I  think my friend Andrea needs to start looking online to find out about song lyrics before reading to deeply into them.

"Andrea, darling. Honey. Sweety. The word was pleasing.

It turns out that after that word she made a few other assumptions and the song had turned into a breakup song. Which is a lot more than a Hilda Ogden kind of error, truly.

I quickly selected the song in WMP and played it, speaking along with the lyrics:

Today I feel like pleasing you more than before
Today I know what I want to do, but I don't know what for
To be living for you is all I want to do
To be loving you, it'll all be there when my dreams come true
Today you'll make me say that I somehow have changed
Today you'll look into my eyes, I'm just not the same
To be anymore than all I am would be a lie
I'm so full of love I could burst apart and start to cry
Today everything you want, I swear it all will come true
Today I realize how much I'm in love with you
With you standing here I could tell the world what it means to love
To go on from here I can't use words; they don't say enough
Please, please listen to me
It's taken so long to come true
And it's all for you
All for you....

This is really not the view I have of love now -- I am way too cynical for that (now it is more like the triumph of imagination over experience, in my eyes).

But as songs go, this one, while not being anything like where I am now, has more to do with where I came from vis-a-vis love than any one song really has a right to. If nothing else it is why I haven't fallen in love all that easily -- how often would you if the bar was placed so high? :-)

Anyway, I pointed her to a few lyrics sites and also told her that she may want to go back to listening to music the way she was before.

My need, in fact let's admit it my oddball fetish, to understand the original lyrics and the intent and the backstory behind the song is really not a reasonable thing for normal people to enjoy music.

And after trying to puzzle out the breakup version of Today for half a day, Andrea reluctantly agreed.

We talked for a bit longer, and then she had to go, so she told me I was still her favorite cylon, and said goodbye.

I don't know if how I listen to music is quite that weird, I mean it isn't really Cylon-level unusual. Perhaps it is an odd side effect of my interest in language.

But I suppose it is easy for it to distract a person too much to enjoy the song from time to time....

 

This post brought to you by 𝄻 (U+1d13b, a.k.a. MUSICAL SYMBOL WHOLE REST)


# Kevin Daly on 21 Oct 2007 5:34 PM:

One of my brothers was very disappointed when I finally convinced him that what he had believed for decades was "a girl named Blood" in the Easy Beats' "Sorry" was actually "a girl named Fleur".

He'd found the former version much more evocative, if deranged.

# John Cowan on 21 Oct 2007 9:44 PM:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mondegreen

# gUS on 22 Oct 2007 1:47 AM:

INTERNATIONAL CAPS LOCK DAY TODAY.

# Michael S. Kaplan on 22 Oct 2007 2:17 AM:

Well, not yet in this time zone. Sorry!

Marion Delgado on 13 Aug 2012 12:53 PM:

Renee Fleming's version, anyway, uses "leaving" quite clearly.


referenced by

2008/06/28 She actually said Playing, not Praying...

2007/10/27 All that and a bag of chips^H^H^H^H^HEx's

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