Wednesday, April 22, 2009

We're caught in a landslide

I'm addicted to, a database of song lyrics where people come on and post their interpretations of the meanings of song lyrics. I always feel guilty going on the website because I feel like lyrical interpretation should be something that I 'do on my own.' It's kind of like being stuck on that really impossible puzzle in Zelda, and then finally bowing to the pressure and going online to look at a walkthrough to figure out what to do (not that I've ever done that). So far, I've only gone on to look at song's that I've lived with for a long time, and the effects on my appreciation of the music have been ambiguous. For instance, it's exciting to finally know what Ted Leo is talking about in 'Parallel or Together?', but the apparent meaning of the song doesn't quite click with the meaning I'd assigned to it from dozens of listens. My personal interpretation had more significance to me than the much more likely explanation posted on the website. On the other hand, the posted interpretations of songs like the D-Plan's 'Back and Forth' and Wolf Parade's 'Shine A Light' have increased my appreciation for them even more. At the same time, when some of that lyrical mystery is lost, the songs lose some of their intrigue, some of their raw excitement, to me the listener. 

What's my point here? I don't think that anyone should get too hung up on the 'actual' meaning of a song's lyrics. What is far more important is the listener's own personal interpretation, and how the words make him or her feel. For me, 'Parallel or Together?' will always be about loneliness and longing (although I guess the 'proper' interpretation sort of falls along those lines). As consumers of art, we are free to make of it what we like, and how music affects us and makes us feel is what really matters.

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