In my middle-school and high school days, I was a huge fan of bands like Fall Out Boy and Panic! At The Disco. Not only were the beats catchy and the lead singers ridiculously talented, the lyrics for the songs themselves were like puzzle-boxes to open.
I spent an embarrassingly long time going over each line, trying to deduce the meaning behind “To all the boys who the dance floor didn’t love and to all the girls whose lips couldn’t move fast enough” or “I’ll be your number one with a bullet.”
I combed over them in the same way English majors study Yeats. In hindsight it’s…kind of cringy and, yes, their meanings are pretty obvious now that I’m old enough to know what Page 6 lovers are. Nevertheless, I still recall how gratifying it felt to figure out “the hidden meaning” in the lyrics.
Obviously there are far more intricate songs with better metaphors (American Pie by Don McLeon comes to mind), but I didn’t know it at the time.
Regardless, I had such a thirst for understanding back then; a pathological desire to know what message the artist was trying to impart to me. I wanted to be a part of the creative experience and “deciphering” the words of these songs helped me feel as if the artists and I were somehow connected.
In recent years, however, I’ve noticed a decline in my interest to know and understand the “inner workings” of songs, or…anything really.
Okay, occasionally I will develop an interest in a certain topic, or I will partake in discussions revolving around media and spout theories along with other fans. But when it comes to puzzling out metaphors, a lot of the time I just can’t be arsed.
It may be yet another byproduct of getting older, but it seems as if the pay-off of discovering “the truth” these days just isn’t worth it anymore. Most answers in life are lack-luster and dull, or just leave you with more questions that are impossible to answer.
It’s much easier to passively listen than to be engaged.
As a result of my apathy, I’ve noticed music isn’t quite as enjoyable as it once was. Of course I still like listening to my favorite artists on the way to work, but the sounds —no matter how pleasant— doesn’t touch me in nearly the same way.
This sucks because my strong emotional connection to music helped feed my creative process. Hell, I wrote a short story inspired by Adia by Sarah Mclachlan (it was about a prostitute that married one of her johns and discovered a stack of letters penned by her former boyfriend who refused believe she became a prostitute despite overwhelming evidence Also, he died of typhus, I think) Another song, Broken by Life House, inspired a story about a Holocaust survivor spending Christmas in New York.
But these days, I can do little more than just sing along and not think about it.
It’s nothing these bands did or didn’t do, I think it’s just me.
I hope one day I will be able to regain that spark, that curiosity, the desire to ask what-if, why, and what does it all mean?
But for now all I can say is Thnks Fr Th Mmrs.