Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

What is music worth?

  1. Jun 1, 2004 #1
    What is music worth??

    I was just pondering...

    I'm a REALLY big music fan - I love almost every type. Although I live in South Africa, I watch the charts from around the globe just to hear what is new and what these artists are trying to say. After all, music is an artform which gives artists a platform to make their voices heard to a wide-ranging audience.

    Anyway, what I wanna know is: What is all the music worth? Should we really be listening to what's being said in the lyrics of songs? When a teeny-bopper band sings about love, do we listen to them? Should we build temples to praise the literary power of Michael Stipe or Dylan? And, should we "build our lives" around the message that a song gives? A lot of people become engrossed in songs - like it was written exclusively about their particular issue. Is this wrong or what?

    My viewpoint kinda comes from Oasis "Don't Look Back In Anger"

    There is a paradox there, isn't it? :confused: :confused:

    Any views??
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 1, 2004 #2
    there are great quotes in songs. I can say that i'm very much times just singing the songs in my mind, and i enjoy it. Two of my favourite quotes are
    "if i'm killed by the questions like a cancer
    then i'll be buried in the silence of the answers
    by myself"
    from the song "By myself" of Linkin Park

    or "and all the routes we have to walk are blinding
    and all the lights that light the way are blinding"
    in the song Wonderwall by Oasis

    music is fun
  4. Jun 1, 2004 #3

    jimmy p

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Music is my life. I found it is one of the only things that I deeply care about. I always have a CD on somewhere.

    For me, a lot of the lyrics in songs I listen to, I try make connections with so that it will mean more to me. And also, I try to feel the music. To me a good artist will really connect the song and the music. With most teeny bopper songs, they sing about love but the music isnt right. A song like Poison's "Life goes on" is a good example of the mix. The lyricist wrote some moving lyrics about love when the other person is gone, which coincided with a tragedy where the guitarists long time girlfriend died in a car crash. The two linked together well and produced a powerful and emotional song.

    I dont build my life around music, I build music around my life.
  5. Jun 2, 2004 #4
    I think it's OK to listen to music and enjoy the effects, as long as you realize they're just effects and not truths.
  6. Jun 2, 2004 #5


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Appreciating lyrics can only enhance your enjoyment of the music. Good lyrics are like poems set to music. You don't always have to agree with the message of a poem to enjoy it. If you want to get the full experience of the music, you should listen to the lyrics, and if they strike a chord with you, all the better-- if not, that's fine too. You don't have to model your life after art in order to appreciate art.
  7. Jun 2, 2004 #6


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    You can't really say what music, as an entire art form, is worth. Some music is garbage, and some music is simply awe-inspiring. Of course, different people will judge a given piece differently. And thus we get launched into the old inherent beauty vs. perceived beauty philosophical argument.

    Strangely enough I don't seem very adept at understanding the lyrics in many songs. I simply can't tell what words the singer is actually saying! So I honestly rarely pay much attention to lyrics, and just enjoy the instrumentals.

    - Warren
  8. Jun 2, 2004 #7


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    same here.
    especially in metal bands where you cant understand the singers who wish to scream out loud. :eek: :yuck:
  9. Jun 2, 2004 #8
    Aside from bad enunciation, the majority of lyrics don't actually mean anything. He mentioned Michael Stipes of REM above. Stipes specializes in lyrics that seem like they must mean something, but actually don't.

    "That's me in the corner!
    That's me in the
    Losing my religion.
    Trying to keep
    my eye
    on you.
    But I don't think that I can
    Do it.
    Oh no, I've said
    I've set it up."

    It sounds extremely pointed and meaningful, but actually says nothing at all.

    I'm not sure, but I think the Beatles started this, and it's especially apparent on The White Album.
  10. Jun 2, 2004 #9


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    A lot of Stipe's lyrics are red herrings, and that song is somewhat ambiguous, but it doesn't mean nothing at all. It's about obsession from afar, and the emotional conflicts involved (in the mold of 'Every Breath You Take'). 'Losing my religion' itself is an actual term that means something like 'at my wit's end.'

    In any case, lyrics don't need to tell coherent stories to be worth listening to. The imagery the evoke or the poetic nature in which they're thrown together alone might be enough to make them worthwhile. Case in point, even if you think 'Losing My Religion' has no meaning, you can still appreciate the beautiful couplet 'The lengths that I would go to / The distance in your eyes.'
  11. Jun 2, 2004 #10
    No, I think it actually means nothing at all. It may be that he meant for it to mean something, but if so, he didn't succeed.

    I don't think he did want it to have a specific meaning, though, because the more of a rohrshach quality any song has the more people can impose their own personal meaning on it.
    Many, many singers and groups do this, but he is particularly good at it. The lyrics to "Man In The Moon" are another example. The song seems like it must have such a specific meaning, but it actually doesn't mean anything in particular. It's the old Eisenstein technique: put two things together and present them to people and people will assume they are connected. Andy Kaufman, Moses, Newton. Connect the dots as you please.

    Don't get me wrong. I really like alot of REM songs. I have several of their tapes. They evoke a definite mood, are imbued with an attitude, and there are definite images in the lyrics that are evocative:

    "Here's a truck stop, instead of St. Peters'"

    That line really cracked me up. I didn't mean to give the impression that REM was a bad group, and not worth listening to. I just meant to point out the peculiar phenomenon of how their lyrics so strongly seem to mean something, without actually meaning anything.
  12. Jun 2, 2004 #11


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    They do mean something, even if some room is left for interpretation. Even the most vivid and straightforward piece of prose leaves things to the reader's imagination.

    What conditions must be met for a set of lyrics to mean something anyway? And what makes you a better judge than any other listener, let alone the author?

    I'm not taking offense to anything you're saying, I'm just puzzled over how you can insist that the song has absolutely no meaning. It might be a loose sketch, but even a loose sketch has some meaning.
  13. Jun 2, 2004 #12
    This is what the concept of a rohrshach test is all about. The more room for interpretation the less meaning a thing actually has.
    The authors intended audience must be able to understand it as the author intended it.
    I didn't say I was a better judge than any other listener. I think Stipes intended for these songs to be obtuse but to seem like they weren't. I don't think he is presenting a message, but an attitude. The less specific he is about the message, the more people who can buy into the attitude.
    It has a meaning in the sense that "the medium is the message". They have atmosphere and mood, but the lyrics, which seem to have some meaning just beyond your reach, don't.

    If you look at "Night Swimming" and "Everybody Hurts" it's clear that he is perfectly capable of writing coherent songs, whose meaning isn't obscure. Why aren't all his songs that way? I don't think he wants them to be.
  14. Jun 2, 2004 #13


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Even though the song has some ambiguous lines, I think the core idea of the speaker's infatuated, unspoken obsession over an unrequiting person makes itself pretty evident. I think anyone who has the lyrics written out in front of them would be able to figure that out, provided knowledge of the colloquial term 'losing my religion.'
  15. Jun 2, 2004 #14
    Consider this, Hypnagogue, consider this: the hint of the century. Consider this: the slip that brought me to my knees. What if all these fantasies come (something) around? And now I've said. Too much.
  16. Jun 2, 2004 #15


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I didn't say every part of the song was unambiguous. :tongue2: Consider relevant excerpts:

    The lengths that I will go to
    The distance in your eyes
    Oh no I've said too much
    I set it up

    That's me in the corner
    That's me in the spotlight
    Losing my religion
    Trying to keep up with you
    And I don't know if I can do it
    Oh no I've said too much
    I haven't said enough

    Every whisper
    Of every waking hour I'm
    Choosing my confessions
    Trying to keep an eye on you
    Like a hurt lost and blinded fool
    Oh no I've said too much
    I set it up
  17. Jun 2, 2004 #16
    Those lyrics are clearly abut a boy trying to keep up with his distant, controlling father's expectations.
  18. Jun 2, 2004 #17
    I'm sorry. Those lyrics are clearly about a girl in crisis over her alcoholic mother.
  19. Jun 2, 2004 #18
    Whoops, wrong again. I just realized its about a father trying to deal with the shame of his daughter's bipolar disorder.
  20. Jun 2, 2004 #19
    Sorry. This is obviously about a war survivor taking care of a war buddy who came back not quite right in the head.
  21. Jun 2, 2004 #20


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    All those interpretations have a common thread, don't they? The speaker's preoccupation with a person who is unrequitingly distant, with the added complication of the speaker's being hesitant to say what's on his mind to this person. Maybe a bit abstract, but still not completely formless.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook