Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Recycling

There are so many words out there, it is amazing that anyone has any need or desire to create more. It sometimes feels like every possible combination of words has already been made somewhere.

Of course, context is everything, and it is sometimes hard to separate the content from the context.

Years ago, I wanted to form a punk rock band who only performed covers of Lionel Richie songs. I know that you are now hearing the chorus for "Dancing on the Ceiling" in your head and wondering what the hell I was thinking. Well, if you actually look at the lyrics of Lionel Richie songs (including the aforementioned Dancing on the Ceiling) you will notice that there is a level of aggression and disconnection you would not expect to find in your average feel good pop song. Or maybe you would expect to find it. My point is that if you strip the lyrics of the sappy orchestration and plaintive voice, add a guitar riff and have phrases like "You laughed at me, you said you never needed me, well I wonder if you need me now" screamed out to an audience, well, tell me you wouldn't pay money to be in that audience.

Another thought I had was taking the lyrics of sitcom theme songs and turning them into motivational speaches. This doesn't necessarily work with every theme song, but many read like the sort of classroom PSA which those of us who grew up in the Just Say No eighties remember fondly. Indulge me for a moment. Close your eyes and imagine a man in a business suit saying the words, "Now the world doesn't move to the beat of just one drum. What might be right for you might not be right for some. A man is born, he's a man of means. Then along come two, they have nothing but their dreams. But they all have different strokes to move the world. Everybody has got a special kind of story, everybody must find a way to shine. But no matter what you've got, not alot, so what? They'll have theirs, you'll have yours and I'll have mine. And together, we'll be fine because it takes different strokes to move the world." As I typed that, I felt it moving beyond the world of motivational speaches and into the realm of politics and stump speeches.

The other day I was listening to the radio and the song "Jump" by Van Halen came on the radio. Now I did not like this song when it was first released in the eighties. But I loved the Roddy Frame cover of it and, I'll admit, the original has grown on me over the years. So I am parking the car and the song is playing and I suddenly realize the song is an advertisement. Now, admittedly, every song is an advertisement for something, be it love, war, or anarchy. However, the thing about "Jump" is that it is hard to determine what it is selling. Freedom? Encouragement to keep plugging away in a cruel world? A shared sense of frustration because the man is trying to keep you down? And in that moment I realized that "Jump" (along with many other songs out there) would make excellent spam.

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