I think that the way a song is interpreted is very personal. I depends on your age, what was going on in your life or in the world at the time. Here’s an example of some that take me straight back to being at university ….
The Sound Of Silence
The other day my teenage son called me into his bedroom to listen to a song. It was a cover version by Disturbed of “The Sound of Silence”, delivered in a gravelly, metal singer kind of way. My son knows I am a fan of Simon and Garfunkel and listening to the lyrics and the rendition, I was transported back to the early 80s. I was at university and Simon and Garf (as we called them) were making a comeback. Even though they had broken up in 1970, their music had captured the attention of a whole new generation of young people. The song was originally released in 1964, the year I was born. Once, when I was home on vacation from university in the early 80s, I was playing one of Simon and Garf’s albums and my sister (who is 18 years older than me) said, “why are you listening to that old stuff?”
A Bridge Over Troubled Water
I find many of Simon and Garf’s songs brimming with emotion and social comment. Perhaps its because they remind me of a time when I was young and trying to make sense of life and full of emotion myself. Take “Bridge Over Troubled Water” as an example. It never fails to give me gooseflesh, especially the final verse and crescendo. If you read the story of the song on the internet, it sounds like life for the duo was fraught with conflict at the time of writing and production. Yet the song as a final product would never give a hint of that. For me it is about friendship and support when needed.
The internet, being the place that it is, is awash with interpretations of song lyrics and meanings of songs. I know, I’ve just read a few when I was doing a little research on these songs!! I always think that the way a song is interpreted is very personal. I depends on your age, what was going on in your life or in the world at the time. I know that my interpretations of the Simon and Garf songs are based on conversations I had with my friends at the time. We were nineteen or twenty, we played the songs endlessly on cassette tape (remember those?) and dissected their meanings over last night coffee, rusks and cheap sherry. We sang the songs on road trips and weekends away. They are embedded in my brain and will forever bring back bitter-sweet memories of being a young adult. Singing ‘Cecilia‘ at the top of our lungs in the street on a Sunday morning for example!
I Am A Rock
The song “I Am A Rock” was one that I was always attracted to. The final lines are “I am a rock / I am an island / And a rock feels no pain / And an island never cries”. My childhood circumstances meant I was a loner as a child and this reminds me of that isolation and emotional detachment. Although I am better than I used to be, I can still be like that now, happy with my photographs and drama series, protecting me in a way from engaging too much with the outside world. The song reminds me to NOT be like that too much.
I’d love to know which song brings back bitter-sweet memories of being a young adult for you?