The Message in the Music

So this blog has been fairly dark for a long time (what else is new), but if you’re absolutely wanting to read anything that I write, I’ve been reviewing games over at Pixel Judge since February. On with the show…

I’ve been listening to a lot of songs I haven’t really looked at in the past, two of which are the 1983 Tears For Fears Single ‘Mad World’, and it’s later cover for the 2001 movie Donnie Darko – performed by Gary Jules and Michael Andrews. While I generally tend to write off most commercial cover versions of songs as the efforts of lesser artists attempting to latch on the fame of their betters, I have a soft spot for anyone who takes the song and makes it their own – those who change the feel or the meaning of the song (or those who play it for comedy) – and this is one of the better examples that I’ve come across.

Here’s the original:

And here’s the Cover:

The only thing that’s different between the two is the musical arrangement, yet both inspire different feelings within me.

The way Tears For Fears arranged it, with the heavy synth and percussion, stirs feelings of impotent rage at the surrounding world, and the anguish that can come of that when there is no way of truly expressing that anger – expressing in that anguish that “I find it kind of funny, I find it kind of sad, the dreams in which I’m dying are the best I’ve ever had”, that there is no other way to express their frustration and anger at the mad world around them then to remove themselves from it entirely. It feels more like a young person’s embittered plea for something to make sense in a world that seems to be getting stranger and stranger.

Gary Jules’ version, with it’s slow piano and laid back lyrical performance, speaks more of a older person struggling with depression, left wondering how things had changed so rapidly, and what happened to the idealistic dreamer that they once were. Left with no ability to change their past, they see no potential in their future, and they lament that the only dreams they have that’s worth anything are the dreams in which they are dying….

So maybe this was a bit of a depressing song to talk about….in any case, are there any other examples of a cover bringing a different interpretation of a song to the table? Let us know you’re favourites.

Standing in the Hall of Fame

So I’ve been listening to ‘Hall of Fame’ by The Script a lot over the past few days, and it’s really fired my imagination and drive to write (hence an actual post here). Here’s the official video:

There comes a time in everyone’s life where they have to ask the questions ‘What have I done/will I do with my life?’ ‘What have/will I achieved?’ ‘How did/will I live my life?’ ‘Am I satisfied with this??’. These are the questions by which we guide our lives, and by which we judge the time that we have on this earth. For some, these questions are asked earlier in life – they led me away from a life of study and into a field where I can more tangibly see the fruits of my labor – and nearly everyone asks themselves these questions in their twilight years. I’m of the mindset that these are questions that present themselves in times of crisis in people’s lives – times when one part of their life is over, and another is beginning (i.e. myself, earlier this year when my studies had come to a close; or the near cliche ‘mid-life crisis’) – and, when looking back, are the points that people remember most clearly.

So what does that have to do with the song I’ve posted above? The song is simply a call to remember that there will come a time where you look at your life, and ask those questions. It’s a call to dream – ‘be students, be teachers, be politicians, be preachers. Be believers, be leaders, be astronauts, be champions, be truth seekers’ – and see those dreams through to the end. Because there will come a day when you are standing in the Hall of Fame, and when that day comes, will you simply be watching as others are given accolades for the way they lived their lives, or will you be one of those who will be known as someone who lived a worthy life?

Frank Sinatra sang a song by the name of ‘My Way’, which looks at these same questions from the other end of life – The Script looking from the point of view of those who are dreaming, Sinatra from the point of view looking of those looking back at the dreams they had and achieved – declaring that in spite of all that came his way – the struggles, the pain and the regrets – that, as he looked back, he could declare that he was happy with the way his life turned out. And that is, for many, the goal. Many people, myself included, simply have a desire that, when they are at the end of their allotted time on Earth, they can say:

And now, the end is here
And so I face the final curtain
My friend, I’ll say it clear
I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain
I’ve lived a life that’s full
I traveled each and ev’ry highway
And more, much more than this, I did it my way

Regrets, I’ve had a few
But then again, too few to mention
I did what I had to do and saw it through without exemption
I planned each charted course, each careful step along the byway
And more, much more than this, I did it my way

Yes, there were times, I’m sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew
But through it all, when there was doubt
I ate it up and spit it out
I faced it all and I stood tall and did it my way

I’ve loved, I’ve laughed and cried
I’ve had my fill, my share of losing
And now, as tears subside, I find it all so amusing
To think I did all that
And may I say, not in a shy way,
“Oh, no, oh, no, not me, I did it my way”

For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has naught
To say the things he truly feels and not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows and did it my way!

– ‘My Way’ by Frank Sinatra