Welcome back to my blog, we took a turn from all the big explosions and decided to listen to music. Luckily we only had to listen to Yoko Ono once, and we spent the rest of the time listening to lyrics with real meaning. To fully understand the meaning of the lyrics, we needed to first understand the literary terms and techniques used by artists to make their music have a better connection to the listener.
Driving Question: How Might We Use Music To Represent Ourselves And Text?
By analyzing poems and finding the literary techniques used, we could translate that new skill to song analysis.
Now that we could understand the techniques used, and how that could connect with the reader/listener, we made a playlist with songs that have meaning to us.
PRIDE. By Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick Lamar is an American rapper who started gaining recognition in 2010 for releasing the album “Overly Dedicated”. He’s always had the respect of many for his meaningful lyrics and rapping talent. His most popular album is titled “DAMN.”, which is all about understanding different aspects of your self worth and self respect. Which is clearly seen in the title of each songs within.
Opening the song with “love’s gonna get you killed, but pride’s gonna be the death of you” (0:00-0:14) is a caesura used to share a hard hitting message, setting a slightly depressing tone. With changes in pitch throughout, it reflects the contrast between ideals and actions. Which reminds the listener to live in the moment and to only control what is within your abilities. The message behind the opening line is all about forgiving yourself for your mistakes and moving forward. He wants us to understand that the inability to address our faults could be the “death of you”
Harder Than You Think by Public Enemy
Public enemy is an American hip hop group who rose to fame in 1989, after releasing “Fight The Power”. With loud and sometimes obnoxious music, Public Enemy is not a group I would associate with sophisticated and meaningful music. Being a New York Hip Hop group, it is hard to stand out and make a name for yourself. Holding onto the attention they gained from “Fight The Power”, Public Enemy later released “Harder Than You Think” which caught the attention of many more including me. Using slang that is difficult to understand. I couldn’t appreciate this song until then. Taking a step away from the persona they’ve created for themselves. They add some humble and heartfelt messages in this song like, “My sole intention to save my brothers and sisters”(1:03-1:05). Which shows their personal morality and growth as a person, which is something they believed in and wanted to reflect through these lyrics. As well as, teaching people that its much easier to make yourself and others believe you're someone different, and you should just be yourself.
Scar Tissue by The Red Hot Chilli Peppers
With my dad being a big fan of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, I’ve been hearing their music my entire life. Scar Tissue is by far my favourite of theirs with a great meaning behind it
Many of the Chilli Peppers songs are about their lives and how they’ve overcome drug abuse and other addiction. Despite the explicit subject, the Chilli Peppers have sold over 100 million records, making them one of the most successful bands of all time. Starting as a small band in high school with a lead singer (Anthony Kiedis) and Flea (Michael Balzary) as the bass player, they wouldn’t be the band you’d expect today. Slowly gaining recognition, they managed to form a full size band with a small following. In 1991, they released their biggest song “Under The Bridge” which is what really put them in the map.
Sticking to the theme of the rest of their songs, “Scar Tissue” is all about Anthony’s struggle with drug addiction. With a message that only speaks to a small percentage of the population it is surprising to see the success this song has. Changing to more melodic rock for this song it is not surprising to see how this song can find a way to connect with people. With or without a past in drug abuse, this song is truly art, as it can find a meaning for anyone who listens. In my case, and many others. It finds a way to remind the listener about challenges you’ve overcome, and the improvements you’ve made to any goal you’re working towards. With an upbeat yet mellow tone to the song, it provide reassurance that the goals you're working towards or challenges you're trying to overcome aren’t as daunting as they may seem.
“I'll make it to the moon if I have to crawl” (1:39-1:42) is a metaphor used to show this
Minority by Green Day
Green day is one of the biggest rock bands of the 90s with over 200 songs in total. Minority was a song they released in 2000, with no lyrics addressing the any events at the time. Being the start of a new millennium, it never addressed this, or anything directly.
Being apart of a minority grants independence and to stand for our own beliefs. While not directly addressing any events at the time, it does allude to their perspective on politics at the time. 2000 was the year that George W Bush was elected and won without the majority vote.
Without directly addressing the politics in this song, Billy Joe Armstrong did however, want the song to be perceived differently for every listener. For many, this song is about having your independence and not caring about what others think about you. He wants people to know that your personal happiness is one of the most important things in living. To find your place in life, you will need to go through dark times on your own. “One light, one mind, flashing in the dark” (1:05-1:10). Blinded by the silence of a thousand broken hearts” is a connotative line taken from the third verse which is a perfect metaphor to showcase the meaning being conveyed by the entire song.
Time by Pink Floyd
Written by Roger Waters, “Time” is a very depressing yet inspiring song which makes you reconsider how you live your life. With the world concerned about all that was happening in 1971, Pink Floyd came to the realization that life if too short to be concerned by political events.
With clocks ticking and a very depressing tone, this song alludes the listener to subconsciously think about the time ticking away. With powerful lyrics this song is great to make you think about how fast life goes and for a teenager and it makes me worry about not living my life as best as I can. This song does a great job at connecting to the listener the same way great poets try to. It genuinely can be life changing with the first verse being about how life seems like it will last forever when you’re young and it speeds out of control as you grow older.
“And you run, and you run to catch up with the sun but it's sinking
Racing around to come up behind you again
The sun is the same in a relative way but you're older
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death
Every year is getting shorter, never seem to find the time
Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines
Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way
The time is gone, the song is over, thought I'd something more to say”