I’m One – the Who

What are we all? Is each person just a blind, confused creature searching to find his or her place as a cog in the machine that is the world? Or are we more like quarrelling dogs, trying to assert dominance in our packs and to leave the greatest mark upon the world? The the search for one’s identity is a wildly conflicted journey both mentally and physically. Often, we try to stand out amongst the others while simultaneously trying to fit in with a group and be accepted. This psychological battle with the self is accurately depicted in the Who’s song “I’m One”, from the concept album (one of my favorites) Quadrophenia. Everything about this album is phenomenal, from the plot to the lyrics to the instrumentals (the Entwistle-Moon combo is in my opinion the greatest rhythm section of all time) to the composition and even the cover art (by rock photographer Ethan Russell). Continue reading

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Wish You Were Here – Pink Floyd

The world is filled with walls. Walls that divide different social classes, walls that keep humans and nature separate, walls that keep different nations, races, religions, alliances, and opinions apart. We build the walls to boost our self esteems, because somehow exclusivity equals superiority. We hurt each other because of the walls. We wage war and kill  to prove that it is our side of the wall that is right. It is the walls that encourage prejudice, hatred, and contempt for our fellow man. If it is the walls that cause so much pain, so much anguish, and so much suffering, then why are they even there? Through the timeless “Wish You Were Here”, it is arguable that the walls are not there at all, not in reality anyways. The walls exist only in our minds.

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The Sound of Silence – Simon and Garfunkel

Ignorance and arrogance; the two most devastating characteristics of humanity. These two simple traits are the roots to nearly all conflicts, whether a domestic spat between loved ones or in raging wars, the persecution of an entire people, or mass genocide. The astounding and innovative Simon and Garfunkel hit, “The Sound of Silence” has crossed borders of both nations and ideals in its haunting harmonies, resonating lyrics, and its looming sense of doom when describing the fatal flaws that all humanity possesses. Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, childhood friends growing up in a Jewish neighborhood in Queens in the 50’s, first formed their musical duo as teenagers. “The Sound of Silence” was released on the duo’s debut album “Wednesday Morning 3 A.M.” in 1964, which for about two years was unrecognized, until its rerelease in 1966. From then on, “The Sound of Silence” has continued to touch new people each generation thanks to its profound lyrics that are still relevant today. Continue reading

Time – Pink Floyd

At some point (most likely multiple points) in a person’s lifetime he or she will experience the feeling that time has passed him by. Perhaps there was an opportunity, a risk that could have been taken, that he refrained from and therefore missed out on the benefits of taking that risk. Or maybe he has just realized that he is no longer who he once was in the past – he is no longer in the spring of his youth, he has outgrown interests that he once had, he is not the person that the younger him would have expected him to be, etc. This concept is embodied in Pink Floyd’s “Time”, which describes the passage of time, how its meaning is different to people of different ages, and its devastating impact on the human race. Continue reading

We Can Work it Out – the Beatles

There will always be conflict in world, whether over resources, political views, religion, or our physical differences, but there is also always a solution. The question is, if there is always a solution that avoids conflict, then why do people continue to fight wars? To persecute one another? To kill over our problems rather than reason them out like civilized human beings? The legendary Fab Four discuss the many reasons why people are unwilling to peacefully cooperate with each other in their timeless classic, “We Can Work it Out”. Released in 1965, “We Can Work it Out” initially appears to be about a couple’s struggles in their relationship but has since grown to be a song that portrays a message of love and tolerance, teaching that there is always hope for a peaceful solution to conflict. Continue reading

I’d Love to Change the World – Ten Years After

I think we can all agree that the world can be a pretty messed up place. Whether it’s war, discrimination, pollution, suppression, poverty, disease, or any of the other myriad of problems with the world, the human race always seems to be entangled in an issue of some sort. We always have and we probably always will, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try to make things better. Ten Years After’s “I’d Love to Change the World” describes the uncertainty that a person experiences throughout life’s trouble and the struggle to gather up the courage to change it. Continue reading

Aqualung – Jethro Tull

“Aqualung” by British rock band Jethro Tull tells a story of human perception and the diverse perspectives that people have of others as well as themselves. The song was inspired by a picture of a homeless man that the wife of Ian Anderson, the multi-instrumentalist lead singer of Jethro Tull, took, thus awakening Anderson’s muse. The song discusses the conflicting emotions and uncertainty when judging a person, or in the case of the song, the character of “Aqualung”, the homeless man. Anderson may also have intended the song to be critical of the person who is judging Aqualung. Continue reading

Waiting For the Sun – The Doors

The Doors’ song “Waiting for the Sun” is a hauntingly beautiful composition, with its deeply profound lyrics and its fluid slide guitar riffs. It was released on the album Morrison Hotel in 1970 and is one of several of the Doors’ slower, more eerie tracks on the album, others including “Blue Sunday” and “Indian Summer”. Apart from being the charismatic lead singer for the Doors, Jim Morrison was a poet and studied comparative literature and theatre at UCLA, resulting in songs with dark, surreal lyrics, often with abstract concepts. Continue reading

Mr. Tambourine Man – Bob Dylan

The legendary Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man” has been a favorite of people across the globe – from concert halls to campfires – since its release in 1965. It has been covered by many credible artists, with the Byrd’s version being the most famous. Dylan utilizes poetic metaphors and abstract imagery to portray his message: the source of inspiration. Because the song’s metaphors are pretty recondite, I’m mainly going to focus on interpreting the lyrics rather than delving into its background or Dylan’s inspirations for the song. Continue reading

Tom Sawyer – Rush

Rush’s “Tom Sawyer is a song that uses metaphors and the obvious Twain literary allusion to portray themes of rebellion and individualism, making it the perfect choice for my first song interpretation (we’ll be focusing mostly on lyrics for this one). The song was originally a poem written by Pye Dubois, known as “Louis the Lawyer” in 1981. Upon showing it to Rush members Geddy Lee, Neil Peart, and Alex Lifeson, they knew a song was in the making and began to adapt Dubois’s poem to music. The lyrics can still be read as a free-verse poem with a rhyme scheme. Continue reading