Picture-perfect: Somebody that I used to know – Gotye

 

The Australian Wouter De Backer alias Gotye certainly scored a hit in Germany with his song “ Somebody that I used to know” from the album “Making Mirrors (2011) and the  wonderful  associated official video.

Once more it is all about love – better said the failure of a relationship. Why, oh why are these things meaning so much to us so complicated? Peace, Justice, love – we are always looking for them and sometimes we seem to get hold of them, but then all of a sudden they vanish again.

What stays is the retrospective on something that the singer thought to be love:

“Now and then I think of when we were together
Like when you said you felt so happy you could die
Told myself that you were right for me…”

However, there was a doubt from the beginning, a sadness, knowing that she was not “the one”:

“But felt so lonely in your company
But that was love and it’s an ache I still remember
You can get addicted to a certain kind of sadness
Like resignation to the end…”

Can you get used to such a feeling, wallow in self-pity? I guess you can – and as nowadays relationships tend to be short term it might be necessary and even healthy to get used to this kind of experience. And anyway, we are adults and know how to deal with the situation, don’t we?

“So when we found that we could not make sense
Well you said that we would still be friends
But I’ll admit that I was glad that it was over…”

Until now the singer in the video stays relatively calm and motionless. He seems to be on top of things, but then suddenly he bursts out in pain:

“But you didn’t have to cut me off
Make out like it never happened
And that we were nothing…

But you treat me like a stranger
And that feels so rough
You didn’t have to stoop so low
Have your friends collect your records
And then change your number…”

The “Love of his life” becomes “somebody that I used to know”…

So far one side of the story. Now its HER part, sung and performed by New Zealand singer Kimbra :

“Now and then I think of all the times you screwed me over
But had me believing it was always something that I’d done
And I don’t wanna live that way
Reading into every word you say…”

She feels betrayed, constrained, made responsible for all the problems – and she draws a line. She literally moves out of the picture, shakes off the colors that weren’t hers. It  looks as if HE really sees her for the first time, now that she has become an independent person.

Can you be so wrong about someone, so blind? Maybe we are all too busy designing our picture-perfect lives? Too busy to be aware of the persons living next to us – trying to insert them into the art work that our life is supposed to be?

Let’s have a closer look at those who are important to us before it is too late – and we have to add one more name to the list of those we “used to know”….

About finding and losing love: New Age – Marlon Roudette

Marlon Roudette’s song New Age has nothing to do with esoteric religion but a lot with an experience everyone goes through at least once in a lifetime: it’s about finding and losing love. When you compare all the song lyrics in the world, which ones do you think prevail: the ones praising the happiness of love or the ones complaining about the pain which comes with the end of a great love story? I don’t know, but for me, the sad songs are often the deeper and more beautiful ones. Happiness and pain, they both inspire artists to create melodies and lyrics that help us to deal with these experiences in our life.

The song New Age” by Marlon Roudette (the complete lyrics can be read here)  is for all those who have to deal with the end of a relationship – whether it was love or something else… sometimes it’s hard to tell, isn’t it?

“If  love was a word, I don’t understand.
The simplest sound, with four letters.”

Loving someone is sometimes an all-embracing experience; another person takes over our life:

“I’m walking away, from everything I had.
I need a room with new colors.
There was a time,
When I didn’t mind living the life of others…

So much fire that it burned my wings.
Her heat was amazing.”

When it’s over, there is only the love of pain as a memory of what we had. “Everything” turns to “nothing”. A person changes and with that my life changes, there is nothing in common with the old life, an new age begins:

“Are you loving pain, loving the pain?
And with every day, every day
I try to move on.
Whatever it was,
Whatever it was,
There’s nothing now.
You changed.
New age.”

What remains? Daily life, the daily routines, the simple things:

“Now I’m dreaming of the simple things.
Old ways, erased.”

But – there is hope, a perspective:

“And with every day, every day
I try to move on…   I need a room with new colors.”

At the moment it might seem  impossible, but whoever has gone through the experience of a breakup knows: life goes on. There is a new life waiting, new experiences, new colors, and new songs. It’s strange: to tell someone this in such a situation is often not very helpful. However, a song CAN do the job without sounding too shallow. Music has its own and very powerful ways of reaching and touching the hearts of humans, and it does so also in the case of finding and losing love.

Thank you, Marlon Roudette, for finding these beautiful and comforting words and tunes in your song “New Age”.

Thinking of NY today: Empire State of Mind – Alicia Keys and Jay-Z

Three years ago I spent a week in New York which for me is the quintessence of a city and really a “state of mind”. I was fascinated by the “city that never sleeps”: daylight at midnight on Times Square, colorful, alive because of these people from all over the world; noisy and hectic, but also green, relaxed, alternative, creative in some of its neighborhoods.

In a way, New York is a symbol for America and modern, western civilization – and therefore it became the target of terrorist attacks ten years ago on September 11, 2001.

I stood there at Ground Zero three years ago and it looked like any other construction site. I thought to myself: What drives human beings to plan and carry through such an attack on the vital nerve of a city and its inhabitants?

You think you already know NY when you come there for the first time because so many movies tell its stories and feature its streets – and it really looks like a set of many American TV series.  Artists have celebrated New York’s special spirit in their songs – like Jay-Z and Alicia Keys in “Empire State of Mind” from the year 2009.

For this special day, I would like to present you the version by Alicia Keys at the piano which is shorter and calmer than the original. You can read the lyrics here.

She sings about the flair of the city and the dreams of its inhabitants – but also about the downside: social problem s, crime and violence on the streets:

“Grew up in a town that is famous as the place of movie scenes
Noise was always loud, there are sirens all around and the streets are mean.”

Prostitutes, drug dealers, crazy preachers – they all live here alongside school kids, old people and bankers.

„On the avenue, there ain’t never a curfew, ladies work so hard
Such a melting pot, on the corner selling rock, preachers pray to God“

The longing for life, justice and acknowledgement is everywhere.

„Some will sleep tonight with a hunger far more than an empty fridge“

There is one thing that unites them all:

„I got a pocketful of dreams
Baby, I’m from New York
Concrete jungle where dreams are made of
There’s nothing you can’t do
Now you’re in New York
These streets will make you feel brand new
Big lights will inspire you“

The concrete jungle is a hot spot, but the stories of success that circulate nourish the dreams of those who haven’t got there yet. The skyscrapers are a symbol for human creativity and power and for megalomania at the same time.

That’s what makes NY so special to me: the tension between its extremes, concrete AND jungle, dream AND danger, the fragility of the dream that came to light on 9/11.

Ten years later – and the city is alive and vibrant. For us Europeans American patriotism sometimes is hard to understand. However, New York and the “Empire State of Mind” are an allegory for me, too:

Life is stronger than hatred and death

People of different nationalities and beliefs CAN live together in peace:

“One hand in the air for the big city,
Street lights, big dreams all looking pretty
No place in the world that can compare
Put your lighters in the air, everybody say yeah, yeah…”

Love is a Losing Game – Amy Winehouse


Amy Winehouse passed away on 23rd July, 2011. There have been many obituaries celebrating her talent, and her voice will certainly be with us for many years to come. Looking back at her short life many song lyrics gain a very special meaning and impressiveness. We always knew that her life inspired her song lyrics in a very tragic way.

Now we ask ourselves: did it really have to end this way? Was there nothing and nobody to prevent this from happening? Sadly, there are often people living close by the ones with depression, suicidal thoughts and drug problems who nevertheless aren’t able to help – sometimes because the victims don’t want help for whatever reason.

One of her life’s subjects was love. The relationship with her later and then ex-husband Blake Fielder Civil didn’t work out. Love as Amy Winehouse experienced it had something self-destructive about it as shown in her song “Love is a Losing Game” from the album “Back to Black” (2006):

For you I was a flame 
Love is a losing game 
Five storey fire as you came 

To be on fire can be a proper image for love, but this fire is destructive. Their love lies in ruins, destroyed by abuse, drugs and violence. The game is over.

  Oh what a mess we made 
  And now the final frame                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Love is a losing game

Love as a game? It looks as if she saw it like that. The images she uses to describe her experience come from the gambling sphere – and we all know there aren’t many winners in this game:

Self professed and profound
Till the chips were down
Though you’re a gambling man
Love is a losing hand

Much ventured – but nothing gained. She feels doomed. Maybe it’s easier to blame the gods or fate if things don’t work out – and who would dare to say that it’s only up to you to make your way in life. Whoever insists in this hasn’t experienced fate’s blows.

Though I’m better blind 
Love is a fate resigned               
Memories mar my mind                         
Love is a fate resigned

Over futile odds                           
And laughed at by the gods                      
And now the final frame 
Love is a losing game

For many of us love is heaven on earth. For Amy Winehouse it was just another disappointment. It wasn’t as good as its word; it didn’t give her what she needed.

She must have been very lonely if this was her solace:

Tears dry on their own

(from the same-titled song)

I hope you have made a distinct experience. Love CAN be different, don’t you think?

Praise of Mediocrity? Little in the Middle – Milow

I’m not so sure whether there are still people dreaming of becoming a circus artist. Jugglers, clowns, lions, the whole program – action, excitement, fun and danger, that’s what circus is all about.

To me it looks as if the time of the great circuses as evoked in movies like “Water for Elephants” has definitely gone. But then, it’s not really about circuses in Milow’s new single “Little in the Middle” from the album “North and South” – it’s about dreams, OUR dreams:

„You always wanted to be 
Part of a circus company
For the fun and death defying…

Jugglers walk on the wire 
Lions leap through hoops of fire
As the acrobats go flying…”

We all have our dreams, hopefully. Some of us dream of travelling far countries, others of fame and  big money, many dream of a great love story. Some of these dreams come true, others never will. Having a closer look at some of them has us realize: what seems to be an effortless dream,  really is hard work –  the air is thinner in the world of fame:

„But in time you forgot life is small in the big top
And your dreams were slowly dying…”

But what’s the show all about
When did your north get turned to south
And the truth turn to lying”.

That’s a pity, Milow says in his song “Little in the Middle”

„What you wanted was not a crime 
You could’ve done it but you needed time”.

Instead of pursuing your dream you are burying your head in the sand and getting used to your mediocre life – missing out on many things:

“But it’s a hole you’re digging
A hole you’re digging you’re doing it despite
The so much more you’re missing
More you’re missing to your left and to your right.”

On the other hand, there is some kind of comfort in mediocrity – it keeps you from becoming dizzy and nauseous:

“Now you’re always just a little 
A little in the middle
A little in the middle of where you’re bound
Always just a little in the middle
It keeps your head from spinning round”.

Actually, we can’t have it all in life and most of us are happy to lead a healthy, mediocre and not too ambitious life. Maybe we should be merciful with ourselves and our dreams without totally giving them up – you never know…. ;-)

Milow’s song of mediocrity “Little in the Middle” is certainly meant to be taken humorously – just watch the official video for the song – sometimes the world is turned upside down and you don’t know what is north and what is south – that’s life!


Here’s a wonderful live version of the song:


How about your dreams?

German Lazy Song: Keine Zeit – Tim Bendzko

Here comes the German  answer to Bruno Mars‘ „Lazy Song“ – sung by newcomer Tim Bendzko on his new album “Wenn Worte meine Sprache wären” (If words were my language). The song is called “Keine Zeit” (No Time) and  if you want to read the lyrics click here.

Leaving aside the fact that this young man makes me want to run my fingers through his wonderful curly hair ;-) – he has got a beautiful voice and some significant messages in his song lyrics.

This one is about the wish and necessity to take a break, to stay in bed until the afternoon and sleep in. There is nothing so important as not to be postponed until tomorrow. Recharge your batteries, relax and take your time to unwind, meet friends and think about your life.

Not having enough time for these things might make you the loneliest person on earth.

That’s why today I don’t have time to write a longer blog post. I just want to share this cool, light, happy song with you and encourage you to take a break, too! ;-)

Have a great weekend everybody and enjoy yourselves!

The Rock Star’s Midlife Crisis? Walk – Foo Fighters

If you have watched the movie “Falling Down” with Michael Douglas, you will certainly enjoy the official video for the Foo Fighter’s new song “Walk” from the album “Wasting Light”. If not, you will nevertheless have fun:  David Grohl is a stressed-out businessman on his way to the office, caught up in a traffic jam. He decides to change his life and starts doing that by leaving his car behind and walking through the streets, encountering one mishap after the other.

The only thing he takes with him is his guitar which reminds us that he is not that businessman but a rock star on his way to the band rehearsal in a garage. In the end he gets arrested by the police amidst the glee of his band colleagues – which is not fair…at least they managed to finish recording this wonderful song “Walk”! ;-) You can read the lyrics here.

Watch the video on tape.tv here.

David Grohl sings about the  monotony of everyday life: “To whom it may concern, I think I lost my way. Getting good at starting over every time that I return”.

There is a memory of a different life though: „A million miles away your signal in the distance…“

Although it is not clear who or what is calling – one thing is for sure:  a change is necessary:

I’m learning to walk again; I believe I’ve waited long enough. Where do I begin? I’m learning to talk again, can’t you see I’ve waited long enough. Where do I begin?

Walking instead of driving, talking and listening to each other instead of sending sms on the phone – that’s just the start.

He is reminiscent of the days of his childhood and youth:

Do you remember the days we built these paper mountains, then sat and watched them burn. I think I found my place, can’t you feel us growing stronger – little conquerors…” Where has that spirit of adventure gone, where the company of friends, the feeling that no one can stop us from living our dreams?

Do we see signs of a midlife crisis with the Foo Fighters? – They certainly do have the age! When you reach the forties it’s normal and healthy to ask yourself: is this the life I want to live?

Their answer: “Now, for the very first time don’t you pay no mind. Set me free again…” You become aware that sacrifice is not always a loss and that you are evolving into someone different: “To sacrifice but knowing to survive, the first to climb another state of mind”.

You live for the day because you know that your days are numbered: “You keep alive a moment at a time but still inside a whisper to a riot”.

The song starts slow and ballad-like. In the end the riot, the protest against mortality and the limitation of life breaks ahead:

I never wanna die
I’m dancing on my grave
I’m running through the fire
Forever, whenever
I never wanna die
I never wanna leave
I never say goodbye
.”

If the Foo Fighter’s midlife crisis generates songs like “Walk”– well, then here’s to the crisis!  ;-)

To search and (not) to find : I still haven’t found what I’m looking for – U2

Last week I went to a convention of the Protestant Church in Germany called „Churchday“. It was actually a really big happening of 5 days with prayers and services, concerts of all kinds, workshops and discussions including some prominent political leaders like the Chancellor Angela Merkel. The age of the attendants varied from baby to seniors, everyone was in a good mood and the sun lit up the wonderfully rebuilt city of Dresden in Germany’s east. People of all denominations and beliefs talked to each other and discussed questions such as: who are we, where do we come from, where do we go and what should we do with our lives?

It was actually more about the questions than about the answers, because they are indeed hard to find. But the search is what matters, talking to each other and trying to understand the other’s points of view.

The song “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for” from the album “The Joshua Tree” (1988) by the Irish rock band U2 (you may read the lyrics here and watch a video here ) is also about searching and (not yet) finding:

I have climbed the highest mountains, I have run through the fields… I have run, I have crawled,I have scaled these city walls”.

It is not quite clear what they have been looking for. „Only to be with you” – sounds like a love song, doesn’t it? The further course of the lyrics reinforces this idea: „I have kissed honey lips, felt the healing in her finger tips, it burned like fire this burning desire”. Being with the one you love is the aim of any love song, but also the disappointment which often comes with this experience – here, too: „But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for“. It looks like the love for another person wasn’t able to fill the void.

Trying out the good and the evil – “I have spoken with the tongue of angels, I have held the hand of a devil” – hasn’t done the job either: „It was warm in the night, I was cold as a stone“. It doesn’t feel right, something is missing and again: „But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.

What follows is a creed of Christian essentials –„ I believe in the Kingdom come… You broke the bonds and you loosened the chains, carried the cross of all my shame”. The band U2 is known for their Christian orientation which also leads to their social and political commitment. In the end all the questions and possible answered that now divide humanity will come together : „Then all the colors will bleed into one, bleed into one” – what a beautiful picture.

And yet: although they state “you know I believe it” there are still doubts. The song ends with the words „I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.

I like that. Even being a Christian you can have your doubts. The dialogue is more important to me than insisting on your own opinion. To me this is more convincing than the conviction of those who always have the right answers and no doubts. How would they know?

 

 

 

Vice vs. Virtue: Judas – Lady GaGa

http://www.myvideo.de/movie/8122937
Lady Gaga — Judas – MyVideo

Lady GaGa visit Sweden at Sommarkrysset, Gröna...

Image via Wikipedia


Here’s the recipe for success: take a bit of love and sex, mix with religion and sin, add a little bit of a “message”, stir well and promote with a dashing and dicey video – there you go – here comes Lady GaGa’s new hit “Judas” from her new album “Born This Way” (you can read the lyrics here)– she can be sure to have the world’s attention!

The song has provoked some harsh criticism by church groups in the US, but Lady GaGa presents herself as a philosopher: The song “Judas” is …“ about constantly walking towards the light in my life, but always clutching onto the light while peering towards the devil in the back.“

So I think it’s well worth having a look. In this song Lady Gaga sings about Mary Magdalene’s love for Judas and Jesus: „I’m in love with Juda-as, Juda-as… When he comes to me, I am ready, I wash his feet with my hair if he needs.

The bible tells us the story of a woman who washes Jesus’ feet with her tears and dries them with her hair. In this song, it’s Mary Magdalene who offers this act of love to Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus in the end. She knows what type of person Judas is, he certainly belongs to the side of evil and treason. Nevertheless, she feels hopelessly attracted to him: „Forgive him when his tongue lies through his brain – even after three times he betrays me.“

She is torn between Jesus, whom she also loves, and Judas, promising to take revenge: “I’ll bring him down, bring him down, downa king with no crown, king with no crown.”

She knows that love can not only rescue but also destroy a person’s life: “I’ve learned love is like a brick, you can build a house or sink a dead body. “

However, there is something that is more powerful than sin and damnation – forgiveness: „Even prophets forgave his crooked way“ – so there might be salvation for her, the „fame hooker, prostitute, wench“, too.

She is really torn between the two men: „I wanna love you, but somethin’s pulling me away from you. Jesus is my virtue and Judas is the demon I cling to.”

But it’s not only about Mary’s story – this is everyone’s story, as Lady GaGa emphasizes:  “So the song is about washing the feet of both good and evil and understanding and forgiving the demons from your past in order to move into the greatness of your future… I keep going back and forth between the darkness and the light in order to understand who I am.”

I like this way of picturing human nature much more than the certainty with which some people seem to know what is good and what is evil.

As Lady GaGa points out: “If you have no shadows then you’re not standing in the light.” She is so right!

The official video has certainly bothered some sensitive religious people. Jesus and his disciples a band of bikers,  Mary’s bath in a beer-whirlpool with Jesus and Judas, well, that is  provocative and very GaGa-like, isn’t it?  ;-)… “and it’s really fun to dance to.” (GaGa).

At the end Mary Magdalene, all dressed in innocent white, is lying on the floor, stoned to death. Is Lady GaGa anticipating the reactions to this video?  Or has she decided to walk the road of virtue and does this always lead to death? GaGa as a martyr? Hmmm…

Still, there is the constant task in everyone’s life to balance the Fool and the Holy within us – thanks, Lady GaGa, for reminding us of this! ;-)

(all quotes according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judas_(song))