Less is more? Society – Eddie Vedder

Not always, and not under all circumstances. In some cases it’s just a question of taste. In the future it might be a question of survival.

In his song “Society” (lyrics can be found here), written by Jerry Hannan, Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam deals with the latter. You can watch the video on Youtube.

He describes a society in which “more” is one of the most prominent words of all:

We have a greed with which we have agreed

And you think you have to want more than you need

Until you have it all you won’t be free“.

That is, very briefly spoken, how our society and financial system works. Unless we are able to consume more, we won’t be satisfied. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

But then again, there are doubts, too. You meet people who live differently, have different aims and criteria in life – and suddenly things are starting to change: “And when you think more than you want your thoughts begin to bleed. I think I need to find a bigger place because when you have more than you think you need more space.

The film “Into the Wild”, in which this song is featured, is about someone needing “more space”. A young man bids goodbye to his life in security and wealth and pursues his dream: he goes “into the wild”, to Alaska, to learn something about life in general and himself. The chorus is his farewell song:

Society, you’re a crazy breed. Hope you’re not lonely without me… Society, have mercy on me, hope you’re not angry if I disagree…

Nowadays there seems to be an alternative to this form of living the idea of “less-is-more”. In the US and elsewhere young people get rid of most of their belongings and try to live with 100 things or less, one of them being their laptop. Check out the website http://cultofless.com and help Kelly Sutton to get rid of some of his belongings ;-)….

A completely digitalized life might be less cluttered – whether it is more satisfying, I don’t know yet…

Anyway – there is certainly something to the idea of “less is more” and it requires a lot of rethinking:

There’s those thinking, more-or-less, less is more,

but if less is more, how you keeping score?

Means for every point you make, your level drops,

kinda like you’re starting from the top.

You can’t do that…”

Maybe the new urban minimalism isn’t for you, and you might not want to try the survival thing either.

But maybe there is something you want to reduce in your life, and be it only the amount of clothes in your closet? I think I’ll start with that right now….

What’s your choice? Less or more?

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CSI Eurovision? Taken by a Stranger – Lena

Did anyone watch the Eurovision Song Contest last Saturday? Not that this is my type of music, but of course I wanted to know how the German contestant, Lena, was going to do in the competition.  When it became obvious that the contribution of Azerbaijan would win I knew that she wouldn’t have a chance with her song “Taken by a Stranger”. Anyway, the song’s popularity in Germany got me a record number of views in the German version of my blog, where I had posted some thoughts about this song. The fact that so many people googled the meaning of the song’s lyrics shows that there is certainly some need for enlightenment. Actually, I could not find any convincing interpretation of the lyrics anywhere on the internet.

I would really appreciate if some English native speakers could take some minutes to read the lyrics, maybe watch the spooky video and let us Germans know what you think the song is about…

Lena Meyer-Landrut – Taken By A Stranger from wiyono on Vimeo.

My theory: either some sort of crime happened: “Taken by a stranger” -‘taken’ meaning ‘fascinated’ or something else???  “She’s got a knuckle in her eye…lured into the danger”,  mirrors shuttering, people disappearing in the video – but then again, at the end there seems to be no victim, so- no crime!

Or: the lady is a professional whore (“he knows her catcall”) specialized on some kind of disguise-role-plays: “Put the blindfold on his eyes. She saw him peek through. Can’t imagine her disguise…”

So, is this a case for CSI or just a glimpse into a dubious night bar? HELP, please ! What do you think? 😉

What is it with America? Hollywood Hills – Sunrise Avenue

Sunrise Avenue – Hollywood Hills from Anorak Agency on Vimeo.

I have to admit: I like America. This is rather unusual for people of my political opinion in Germany. Since I travelled to the US for the first time as a 13-year-old girl I have been fascinated by this beautiful country – and every following visit has increased my enthusiasm. It’s the breathtaking landscapes: Grand Canyon, the Rockies, Great Lakes, the deserts but also vibrant cities such as San Francisco or especially New York.

As I have only been there for holidays, the American people are still somewhat of a mystery for me as a German. They definitely seem to “be wired differently”, which is completely understandable as we have made quite different experiences in our past. This has become obvious once again during the last week when the news about Osama Bin Laden’s death spread around the world. While Americans cheered and celebrated, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel was heavily criticized for using the word “joy” in this context. Well, I don’t want to go into this matter any deeper for the moment…

The song “Hollywood Hills” (song lyrics can be read here) by the Finnish rock band Sunrise Avenue is very popular in Germany at the moment. It deals with memories of a good time in the Californian city of Los Angeles. Not that I think that this is one of the most beautiful places in the US – but of course it is famous for its music and film industry and all the hype around its stars and celebrities. It seems to be a place full of  sun, fun, love: “Now this is not the time or the place for a broken-hearted, ’cause this is the end of the rainbow where no one can be too sadThank you for the morning walks on the sweet Sunset and for the hot night moments, for the fantasy in my bed”.

What I can definitely understand is  missing a place, dreaming of it, hoping to come back one day: „Bye bye, Hollywood Hills, I’m gonna miss you, where ever I go, I’m gonna come back to walk these streets again. Bye bye, Hollywood Hills forever.”

Sunrise Avenue seem to have enjoyed their stay, but Europe, their home country, is calling them back: No I don’t wanna leave but I must keep moving ahead ’cause my life belongs to the other side behind the great ocean’s waves.” There might even be a love story involved but life has taught them: „Long distance love doesn’t work … No I don’t wanna go, I don’t wanna go.”

Anyway, they have to leave – but:I take part of you with me now and you won’t get it back and a part of me will stay here, you can keep it forever, dear.”

Having lived for 7 years abroad in Australia, I know what this feels like: you leave something behind, you take something with you, you lose a bit of yourself and you change as a person.

Now what is it with America and the American Dream? As I said: for me it’s the natural beauty, the open spaces, the many possibilities – and this includes some colorful, crazy variety, the extremes that fascinate and challenge me. Yes, I guess I could say: America is one of my dream countries.

Which one is yours?

 

As time goes by: Zu schnell vorbei – Clueso

Clueso . Zu schnell vorbei from clueso on Vimeo.  Lyrics can be found here.

People all over the world have been waiting for William’s and Kate’s “royal wedding of the century” (how do they know – the century has just begun…) – and now it’s already past! Time goes by so quickly. This used to be a saying of the older generation; nowadays it looks as if even the younger ones experience the passing of time at an alarming speed. Have things changed? Has our way of life changed? It certainly has!

The song “Zu schnell vorbei” (Gone too quickly) deals with this kind of experience. Clueso, a German singer/songwriter complains: It is crazy, I can’t describe it, everything runs so fast, nobody can stop time. I try to enjoy the moment but I have to go on, otherwise I might miss out on something. I try to remember but memory fades away. I want to hold on to things, people, and feelings, keep them forever – but that doesn’t work either. Time just goes by…

Yes, we need the memory of past times, they belong to our lives.
Yes, we need dreams about a future to motivate us and keep us going.

Maybe the hardest part is this: to be aware of the present, to enjoy the good times we encounter, the beauty around us, the love and friendship, the moment of peace and tranquility that is given to us from time to time amidst the hassle of our daily lives.

The official video for the song illustrates the song’s lyrics in a very impressive way. I would like to call out top the runner: Hey, stop for a moment, look around! You are missing out on so many beautiful places and breathtaking views!

At the end he finally seems to stop, maybe just because he is out of breath. But anyway, there is his chance to enjoy the moment.

Time goes by, that’s a fact. However, we can stop for a moment and just BE there. That is when time seems to stand still – and be it only for us!

Wings of Desire: You Found Me – The Fray

You can read the song’s lyrics here.
http://www.dailymotion.com/embed/video/x7orza?width=560
The Fray – You Found Me (official video) von thefray

You wouldn’t believe it, but here’s another one looking for God – and finding him where you wouldn’t expect it either: ” I found God on the corner of First and Amistad… all alone smoking His last cigarette.” Isaac Slade, lead singer and pianist of the The Fray explains: “I just imagined running into God standing on a street corner like Bruce Springsteen, smoking a cigarette.” This wouldn’t lead to a friendly chat but rather to a row of accusations: „Where were you when everything was falling apart? All my days were spent by the telephone that never rang and all I needed was a call that never came”.

It is no secret that The Fray have a background in the Christian Church. They decided to go onto into the secular music business because they expected more listeners, more chances for their musical career and certainly more financial reimbursement, which is understandable. In many of their lyrics their connection to Christian faith is still visible, as it is in this song “You Found Me” from the year 2007. Slade explains in an interview:  “You Found Me is a tough song for me. It’s about the disappointment, the heart ache, the let down that comes with life. Sometimes you’re let down, sometimes you’re the one who lets someone else down. It gets hard to know who you can trust, who you can count on. This song came out of a tough time, and I’m still right in the thick of it. There’s some difficult circumstances my family and friends have been going through over the past year or so and can be overwhelming. It wears on me. It demands so much of my faith to keep believing, keep hoping in the unseen. Sometimes the tunnel has a light at the end, but usually they just look black as night. This song is about that feeling, and the hope that I still have, buried deep in my chest .”

In the song he obviously mourns the loss of a beloved person: “In the end everyone ends up alone. Losing her, the only one who’s ever known who I am, who I’m not, and who I want to be. You got some kind of nerve taking all I want.”
Yes, God was there, finally, but it was too late: „Lying on the floor surrounded, surrounded, why’d you have to wait? Where were you, where were you? Just a little late…
The question about the evil in the world, about suffering and the meaning behind all these experiences is as old as mankind. There are no answers, only some very careful attempts to approach the possible solution.

In this song I see one of these attempts: At the beginning the singer is in search of God. “I found you”, but still asking “Where were you?”. In the end it says: “YOU found ME” – the parts are turned around. God finds us.
The official video for the song is very impressive, too. It is supposed to be a tribute to the Wim Wenders film “Wings of Desire” from the year 1987. The band members are singing standing on bridges and high buildings, like the angels in the film who want to get to know the humans. The angel Damiel is even ready to sacrifice his immortality just to become a human. He learns that living as a human means not only love and colors, but also death and blood and suffering.

At the end of the video the night gives way to the dawn – maybe there IS light at the end of the tunnel? The victim of the car accident opens her eyes. Objects and people are being elevated from the ground. The viewing direction changes towards the sky, towards heaven?
This week we celebrate Good Friday and Easter. Christian faith tells us about someone who wanted to come down to Earth to be human, to be involved in our lives. He experienced live, love and death and at the end asked: My God, why have you forsaken me? There is no human life without the experience of death and loneliness.
Where were you? Well, maybe He was right there – when you were lying on the floor, waiting for His answer, facing death.
After all – after Good Friday comes Easter!

Who am I? Ando por la vida – Gian Marco

Yo soy un criminal” – I am a criminal – I can’t really believe what Gian Marco confesses at the beginning of this song “Ando por la vida” (lyrics can be found here)– he doesn’t look like one, so charming and relaxed. He kills with words, „traficando versos con palabras asesinas” , but only to ease his pain and lick his wounds („para aniquilar mi pena… lamiendo mis heridas“), that’s ok, isn’t it? He is obviously talking about himself, Gian Marco Zignago , Peruvian singer / songwriter who has already won several prizes in Latin America.

He comes across very convincing; he isn’t a youngster anymore, born in 1970. But first, he describes what he is NOT: not crazy, not frightened, not handsome, not ugly, nor bad-nor good-humored. He isn’t a judge, but a spectator neither, not a bandit or prisoner, neither a bad friend nor a seducer. Also, he is not angry, but not happy neither,  not dump, not civilized but not an animal.

So – what ARE you, one wants to ask him. Are you just average or mediocre, invisible – you can’t be everything neither. No, he doesn’t comply with religious and moral standards – but then again, he is not a lost case.

He is really hard to seize – but I guess that is exactly what he wants and what he means. He doesn’t feel like doing a couple of things – “ya no tengo ganas“- and this list of things says a lot about him as a person.

He doesn’t feel like changing direction all the time just to please others and to conform to the rules. He doesn’t want to pay the bill for things he hasn’t done. He doesn’t feel like attracting attention all the time. He doesn’t feel like being questioned. The impatience of the youth is no longer his („ con los años la impaciencia se acabó“) and has made way for a relaxed and happy serenity. That’s why he can wander through life (”ando por la vida”) well knowing that things might seems strange to others, for him they are normal („lo que para tí es muy raro para mí es normal“).

Even the stories he tells in his songs are recycled (“reciclando historias”) – everything has already been said, there’s nothing new under the sun, but that doesn’t bother him – in the contrary, it discharges him from having to be original all the time.

There are many NO’s in this song, but there are two certainties, too: „…sólo sé que Dios existe y que la vida es un misterio universal“– I only know that God does exist and that life is a universal mystery.

What do you think? Can you live your life with just two certainties? Gian Marco looks like he can do it and he seems very happy and relaxed and confident.

I like this attitude very much. Viva la vida! 🙂

The woman of his dreams: You And Me / In My Pocket – Milow

Milow – You And Me (In My Pocket) from Daily Dolores on Vimeo.

Finally it has arrived in Germany:  Milow’s new album „North and South“. And finally, thanks to the song “In My Pocket” (you can read the lyrics here), we know what the woman of his dreams looks (and smells) like: “I wish you smelled a little funny … I wish you were a little bigger, not just big but really fat.” She doesn’t even have to have those long legs that are supposed to be so sexy nor be fast or very sportive: “I wish you were a little slower, not just slow but paralyzed… I really wish that you were smaller, not just small but really, really short.

Well that’s good news, isn’t it? So there is hope for all of us who don’t have the chance to compete in TV series like “Germany’s or America’s Next Top Model”… We still have a chance to win Milow’s heart!

He really comes up with some strange images to describe the woman of his dreams: a mermaid, a cat on the street, a bird, a lamp or the little rag doll that gave the song its name: “…so I could put you in my pocket and carry you around all day”.

What all these images have in common is the wish to keep his dream woman safe and prevent her from running away from him. Maybe Milow has made this experience? Today’s women tend to run away once they are not happy any more. Times are changing… 😉

I guess it’s just meant to be fun. A nice and catchy song and a funny and creative video that comes along with the song. I’m sure Milow knows that you cannot confine a woman, be it in a cage or a tub or your bed. The last scene in the video reveals the only place that is capable of keeping the one you love safe and secure: your heart. If you can’t keep someone in there, you won’t be able to keep him or her close to you at all. On the other hand: you may be able to release a bird from a cage easily – it is much harder to release a person you love. There is always a lot of pain involved. Also, it is no comfort to be reminded that “…there are plenty of fish in the sea” if you are in love with the one and only.

At the beginning the only thing that counts is being with the loved one: “Oh you and me, it would be only you and me”. Once a relationship endures it is important to widen the circle again. Everybody who has been there knows this. But this is a song about the beginning, I suppose….

Actually, I would really love to catch a glimpse of the woman at Milow’s side (if there is one): I bet she has the longest legs, she is slim and clever, she can run and swim very fast and maybe even fly like a bird. Has anyone ever seen her? Maybe he DOES keep her in a bathtub or birdcage?  😉

It wasn’t me! Cookie Jar – Jack Johnson

It seems to be one of the most archaic behavior patterns of human history to point the finger at others: “It wasn’t me, it was Eva, the woman you gave to me”, says Adam when confronted by God for picking the fruit in paradise. “It wasn’t me”, says Eva, “the serpent gave it to me!”  Why is it so difficult to admit to mistakes and wrongdoing: Yes, it’s my fault, I did it?

When I think about Jack Johnson pictures of sun, sea and surf come to my mind – I don’t really expect very deep and meaningful messages – but, hey, looking more closely at his lyrics proved me wrong: he has got something to say!

In the innocent sounding song “Cookie Jar” (you can read the lyrics here)  he deals with exactly the above mentioned question: who is to blame?

While the era of the silent movie cast a spell on him – “It was magic at first, when they spoke without sound”- today’s TV scares him: „But now this world is gonna hurt, you better turn that thing down, turn it down.“

What follows is a sequence of scenes illustrating the question: Who is responsible – who is to blame?

Well it wasn’t me”, says the boy with the gun, “sure I pulled the trigger but it needed to be done”. The young gunman sees himself as a victim of his own socialization and upbringing: “life’s been killin’ me ever since it begun, you can’t blame me ’cause I’m too young.”

The next in line are the parents: Did they make mistakes? Did they contribute to the final drama? „I didn’t teach him to pull the trigger of the gun. It’s the killing on his TV screen.
You can’t blame me, it’s those images he sees”, the gunman’s father replies. The media, the movies he watches, the games he plays, they corrupted him, and they are to blame!

Approached on the subject, the media man defends himself: “I just point my camera what the people wanna see.“ Is that so? Music and film industry dismiss the argument by pointing out that “…it’s only entertainment and as anyone can see it’s smoke machines and make-up, man, you can’t fool me.

The state of facts certainly isn’t always clear and easy, especially in the case of a shooting rampage. Not as simple as the title might suggest: Who took the last cookie from the jar? There are often many factors contributing to a disaster like this.

But there is something shady about it if there are always others to blame, don’t you think so? It would be helpful to admit: „It was you, it was me, it was every man. We all got the blood on our hands.” What goes around, comes around. “We only receive what we demand and if we want hell then hell is what we’ll have.”

You can’t rally against nuclear power without looking at the energy consumption of your own lifestyle, for example. We are all much more involved than we can imagine or want to admit.

Maybe it would not only be more honest but also relieving and unburdening to admit from time to time: Yes, it was me, I am responsible. And besides, only then we can change things to the better… Let’s try it!

Pretty clever: Never Say Never – Justin Bieber

JUSTIN BIEBER and JADEN SMITH “Never Say Never” from ISAAC HAGY on Vimeo.

You can find the song’s lyrics here.
When I announced that I would include a Justin Bieber song in my blog my sons called out: Never! Don’t do it! Well, they obviously aren’t 12 –year-old girls, that is understandable. But they even refused to help me with some for me cryptic passages in the text – for them it is not worth their energy and time.
Opinions differ drastically on the “JB- question”. There is either hysteric admiration or profound rejection and contempt. There is not much in between. The psychological background would be well worth exploring.
But here I want to have a look at the lyrics of his latest song “Never say Never” which is also featured in the new movie “Karate Kid”  with Jaden Smith (2010).
“Never Say Never” – this is not a very original song title. Many artists have a song with this title in their repertoire – Jennifer Rush, Alias, Kim Wilde, The Fray among them. And who wouldn’t remember the James Bond movie with Sean Connery…
Never say never – this is a maxim that many of us would certainly support. Whatever you might think about Justin Bieber as an artist or a commercial product – the story of his young life seems to illustrate his own song title.
His message: You can do it! Don’t let yourself get discouraged by others! You are strong! „See, I never thought that I could walk through fire. I never thought that I could take the burn.” That’s what teenagers love to hear, what they need to hear. “I never thought I could feel this power. I never thought that I could feel this free. I’m strong enough to climb the highest tower and I’m fast enough to run across the sea.”
And it’s good to encourage them this way rather than saying: you won’t make it, you will fail! This is what modern pedagogic demands from parents and teachers nowadays.
Jaden Smith accompanies Bieber in this song and I am sure many kids recognize their own experiences in his words: „Now he’s bigger than me, taller than me. And he’s older than me and stronger than me. And his arms a little bit longer than me.” But Jaden is lucky, he’s got Justin on his side –„but he ain’t on a JB song with me!” This gives him unforeseen power comparing him to Luke Skywalker (the Force is with him!) and basketball star Kobe Bryant, yes even biblical history is used to describe the power: “Like Luke with the force, when push comes to shove. Like Kobe with the 4th, ice water with blood…like David and Goliath, I conquered the giant.“
In the course of the song Jaden Smith sings: „No pun intended, was raised by the power of Will…. I was born from two stars, so the moon’s where I land.” Quite a self-confident kid he is, which is not surprising being the son of two celebrities like Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith. No wonder he is sure he will land on the moon one day…
I gotta be the best, and yes, we’re the flyest… I will never say never! (I will fight) I will fight till forever! (make it right).” This sounds like hard work and is certainly not an easy life. That’s what stars are made of. But then again, these are expectations many don’t live up to. What if the dream doesn’t come true? What if I am not a celebrity child (as most of us…)? What if I will always be mediocre? Can’t I be happy nevertheless and find my own way?
Allow yourself to fall, to be weak, to make mistakes. Maybe that is something young Justin Bieber still has to learn. Maybe in the future he will find words and song lyrics for this kind of experience, too.
I would never have thought that I would deal with Justin Bieber for more than an hour – but there you are – pretty clever: “Never Say Never”! 😉

Who is to blame? The Flood – Katie Melua

Katie Melua – The Flood from Dramatico on Vimeo.  You can read the lyrics here.

It is strange. Lately, I didn’t have many problems choosing a song for my blog. Things happened – and the songs came to me. Now terrible things have happened in Japan. An earthquake of magnitude 9.0, a Tsunami which sent pictures onto our TV screens that seem to have come straight from a Hollywood movie. And now there is the possibility of a nuclear catastrophe as well.

Katie Melua’s song „The Flood” was  released back  in 2010. In the chorus she comes up with a question that has often been raised in relation to natural catastrophes: Who is to blame? It is very embarrassing for me as a Christian when  religious groups suggest that these catastrophes are kind of a divine revenge for human misbehavior. At least I haven’t heard anything like that in the context of the Japanese drama.

In the chorus of her song Katie Melua sings: „No one is to blame. As natural as the rain that falls – here comes the flood again.” Floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, they are not man-made, nobody is to blame for them – they are acts of nature beyond control. In the face of these disasters we feel completely helpless because we can’t blame anybody. We cannot exploit the situation politically. We can’t really help directly. Hollywood blockbusters suddenly become reality and we are torn between compassion and sensationalism.

Even if the earthquake is far away from my European home the soil beneath my feet is teetering, at least for a moment: „What I thought was my way home wasn’t the place I know… Certain, nothing’s certain.” We cling to our belongings, to the things that make up our daily life: “What we own becomes our prison …My possessions will be gone, back to where they came from.” At the sight of the Japanese people who lost everything they owned, we ask ourselves: what do we really need, what do we set our hearts on? What if WE lost everything?

Melua even ponders the possibility that it might be a valuable experience to “sometimes be thrown off the pathways.

What do we hold on to? What gives us support – also in critical times? “See the rock that you hold onto. Is it gonna save you when the earth begins to crumble?”  We have to decide for ourselves what this could be: a belief, an ideology, other people, an assignment…?

On the other hand – sometimes it might be good to „flush away the weight that pulls you down, light the ways that freed from the dust. Why’d you feel you have to hold on?  Imagine if you let go…” The more we cling to something, the more we have to lose.

Would this be a comfort for you… „that you can leave your prison…?” What exactly is my prison, what are my fears?

The important message is: „No one is to blame“. Sometimes chaos just descends upon us. Nature has its own laws: „feel the ancient rhythm… don’t trust your eyes.” The soil beneath our feet is only seemingly secure. In fact the earth’s crust is only a thin layer of rock upon liquid fire.

By the way: the problem with the Japanese nuclear power plants (and all the other nuclear power plants in the world) is definitely made by man and NOT a natural catastrophe. This means: there are people to blame, we are responsible. There are alternatives. These catastrophes are avoidable, if we only want to…