It’s a curse, being a lyrics guy. It can, I’m fairly confident, drive a person mad.
I have a for-instance, you’ll be relieved to learn. We’re currently watching the excellent Ken Burns series on Country Music, learning so much and being reminded of how great those songs were. Remember Patsy Cline’s “Walking After Midnight”? A solid gold classic. It’s just started playing in your head right now, hasn’t it?
But…have you listened to the words? Really listened?
The singer is wandering the highways of America, very late at night, in the vague hopes that her loved one is doing the same thing. Sure, that’s something people should do. Totally normal.
What the ever-living heck is going on there? Through the entire existence of that song, did no one take any notice of the story of the song and say, “Hold on one gosh-darn minute, this is, at best, kind of odd”?
I’m going to say that no one did. Because almost no one listens to the words. And of those that do, almost none is thinking about what they mean. And those people are so much happier than I am.
They’re the people who can play “Every Breath You Take” at their weddings and love it, without once thinking why they’re playing a stalker-song for their first dance.
They can try to get elected in America, standing on stages overflowing with Stars and Stripes, and being played on by “Born in the USA”, without once being concerned about the picture of the US the song so clearly (to me and fellow sufferers) paints.
Ignorance is indeed bliss and songs where you can’t understand the words are the best songs for my mental health.