Monday, 25 June 2012

What Pilate Said

John Lennon famously said, " Say what you mean, make it rhyme, and give it a backbeat."

And I agree. I also agree in "three chords and the truth," wherever that quote came from.

But what is truth? And which truth? One single truth? Multiple truths hidden in multiple layers? A vague truth anyone can relate to? A personal truth? A universal truth? A cliche?

It's been said that great art makes you say, "ya, that's how I feel." Sometimes, say in a straightforward protest or love song, the point is obvious. Sometimes, though, not so much.

And maybe it's not clear to the songwriter either. I know when the words for one of my songs started coming to me, I thought it was about unrequited love. By the time I'd written it all down, I decided it was more about loss of faith. By the time I'd recorded it, I was wondering if it was some kind of commentary on the futility of hero worship.

The lyrics work on all three levels, but who knows what I meant? Not me.

Maybe that's a good thing, because it frees the listener to infer his/her own meaning, and make his/her own emotional connection to the song.

I know that some of the songs I have the strongest reactions to defy explanation. Lots of songs tighten my chest and open my tear ducts. Happy tears? Remorseful tears? Bitter tears? I never know. If you were to ask me why I'm reacting, all can explain is, "this song just gets to me."

So maybe truth isn't enough. Truth is meaningless without audience participation.

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