ruthless compassion (aroraborealis) wrote,
ruthless compassion

I have terrible taste in music. Or, rather, let me say that my taste in music is not at all discriminating. I like what I like, and there's certainly lots of stuff out there that I don't like, but overall, I'm pretty easy. This is most embarrassing because it means that I like a whole lot of pop music. I recognize that this stuff has the musical value equivalent to the nutritional value of a Twinkie, and just as I would only buy a Twinkie as a small part of a very large grocery order, I prefer to enjoy my pop music when I'm alone in a car with smoked windows... but enjoy it, I do.

Normally, pop music has a couple of things going for it: a peppy beat, a catchy tune, and some bland lyrics that somehow manage to make almost everyone feel like the song was written for them or for some aspect of their lives, or something like that. How to appeal to a broad audience? Just like horoscopes make vague claims about someone's personality such that almost all of us can find something familiar in our type's profile, pop music makes a vague claim to sentimentality that nearly everyone can relate to. And, sadly, some of us, even knowing what we're doing, love that sentimentality.

So it was with some surprise this morning that I discovered a pop song whose lyrics are just about as personally/philosophically* offensive to me as anything cookie-cuttered has since... well, I'm not sure when. It took me a while to clue into this, because, well, I admit, I was seduced, as I frequently am, by the peppy beat and the catchy tune. Never let it be said I don't know when I'm easy. Nevertheless, I did eventually clue into the lyrics.

The song is, by the way, "Because of You" by Kelly Clarkson. Now, I won't burden you with all of the lyrics, because, really, wow, but here's the chorus:

Because of you
I never stray too far from the sidewalk
Because of you
I learned to play on the safe side
So I don't get hurt
Because of you
I find it hard to trust
Not only me, but everyone around me
Because of you
I am afraid

This is basically the exact opposite of everything I want in and for myself. Let me count the ways:

First, what's this "because of you" shit? Yes, yes, people in our lives impact us and our outlooks on things, but, really, I don't get the part where people put their little neuroses onto someone else in their lives. It's important to me to recognize the influence that people in my life have on me, and, as part of that, to choose to have people in my life who will influence me in ways that make me more like I want to be rather than less, but at the same time, it's important to me to take responsibility for the directions I go with those influences, because at the end of the day, only I am responsible for who I am and become.

Second, all that stuff about staying close to the sidewalk, playing on the safe side... yuck! That's truly the opposite of the way I want to move through life. On the one hand, of course it doesn't do to be thoughtless and giddy when deciding when to get off the sidewalk, but on the other hand, what's exciting about staying on paved roads? In fact -- and this has been my philosophy for a while, though it's gained a certain depth in the past few years -- I think if I go too long without slipping up and getting hurt, it probably means I'm not pushing myself far enough. Not that I'm a philosophical masochist, but that I like to challenge my own comfort because I think that's where things get really interesting. I like intensity of experience, whether the experience itself is good or bad.

Third, the combination of point two and point one... so you're overly cautious and you didn't even get to that through your own life process? I can't even wrap my mind around living that life.

Fourth, the bit about finding it hard to trust herself and everyone around her... Well, again, it just doesn't make sense. If you can't trust yourself, what the heck can you do in life?

It's a catchy little song, though, if you can ignore the lyrics, which, sadly, I can't. I know, it's silly to have taken all this time to pick them apart, but, hey, it was a good excuse to ramble on about my own life philosophy, wasn't it? Anyway, you were warned ;)

* Not to be confused with politically offensive, which nearly anything that comes out of pop culture (including my beloved pop music) or big corporations is. I.e., the Hummer, green ketchup, GMO potatoes.
Tags: music, thinky

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