Monday, 3 September 2012

There Must Be More I Can Tell Her

Sometimes song lyrics are direct and clear. You know what they're about and you respond accordingly.

Sometimes, though, they are open to interpretation. Like the kid in the lit class that challenges the hapless teacher as he/she attempts to pronounce the one, curriculum-approved interpretation of a poem, some songs challenge the listener to imagine different possibilities.

Sad Lisa by Cat Stevens is one such song.

The song is about a sad female called Lisa. That much we know.

But what's her problem? Heartache? physical abuse? autism? insanity? We sense the pain is deep. We also feel something sinister is afoot. The piano shifts between normal and underwater, rising and submerging throughout the song. The tension builds in symphonic fashion as the piano yields to strings and guitar, the strings at first echoing the melody, then taking up a nervous counterpoint.

Who is she? A lover? sister? child? In fact, is she even real? She's lost in the dark. She can't hear the speaker. No one can see her. Is she a tortured soul, a prisoner, or an imaginary friend?

What a poet.

p.s. - like so many great songs, especially from that era, optimism never fully yields to sadness and despair. There must by more he can tell her, maybe one day he will free her.

And maybe that's the central point of the song: never give up.

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