What is music worth?

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  • #26
hypnagogue
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I always interpreted it in the 'lover' fashion, but I've been careful to omit that from all but my first interpretation. I just mean obsessed as in preoccupied with in some kind of strongly emotional manner. On that account, my general description agrees with all the particular cases you came up with.

I think it may not seem to mean much due to the level of abstraction on which the story is told. I grant it that we can't be sure if this obsessive emotional attachment is that of a lover, or a child to his father, or whatever. But we also can't be sure in exactly what way Jimbo's hair is messy, or whether or not his scar runs over or around his eye, and so on. The difference is that the latter specifies its meaning on what seems to be a more immediate and tangible level. But conceptually, the story about Jimbo is imprecise about the specific instantiation of his generalized physical features in just the same way the lyrics to Losing My Religion are imprecise about the specific instantiation of the generalized emotional relationship that it describes. I think the only way to justify your position would be to say that e.g. the word 'hair' has more meaning than the word 'relationship,' which I don't take to be true.
 
  • #27
BoulderHead
I think it's easy to read into lyrics meaning the writer didn't intend, but I'm not opposed to this, either (could add meaning to the otherwise meaningless). I saw a film of a musician describing being approached by a fan who carried on about the depth and beauty of the lyrics to a song he had performed. The musician told the fan something like "it was just a song, man". I think it can be difficult to always be sure of the meaning (various rock songs come to mind, but it's by no means limited to this genre) and it helps to hear the artist explain. I thought music videos might have been dealing with this problem, but I haven't seen enough of them to know whether they help to clarify, or simply add more confusion to the meaning. Many times I put my own, private, meaning to a song. At least many songs express to me a personal meaning which may be independant to the meaning it's creator had in mind.

To address the original post; I am moved by music, certainly, but I don't let it control my life. Music can be an escape and can play the emotions, but I wouldn't censor it.
What is music worth??
It is worth a very great deal to me. :smile:

[edited for additional comment}
 
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  • #28
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hypnagogue said:
But conceptually, the story about Jimbo is imprecise about the specific instantiation of his generalized physical features in just the same way the lyrics to Losing My Religion are imprecise about the specific instantiation of the generalized emotional relationship that it describes. I think the only way to justify your position would be to say that e.g. the word 'hair' has more meaning than the word 'relationship,' which I don't take to be true.
Actually no. There is no Jimbo story. What you posted about Jimbo wasn't a story, just a description.

If you are presenting the Jimbo description and the song as examples of descriptions, then Jimbo wins hands down. One is a description of a man's appearance, the other a description of someone's emotional reaction to someone else. I am much clearer about Jimbo's appearance.

Here are the complete lyrics to the song:

Oh Life!
It's bigger,
It's bigger than you,
And you are not me.

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

That's me in the corner.
That's me in the spotlight
Losin' my religion.
Tryin' 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.

I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing,
I think I thought I saw you try.

Every whisper,
Every waking hour
I'm choosing my confessions.
Trying to keep my eye on you,
Like a hurt, lost, and blinded fool...fool.
Oh no I've said too much.
I've set it up.

Consider this:
Consider this:
the hint of the century,
Consider this:
The slip that brought me to my knees.
What if all these fantasies
Come flaming around?
And now I've said
Too much.

I thought that I heard you laughing.
I thought that I heard you sing.
I think I thought I saw you try.

But that was just a dream
That was just a dream.
That's me in the corner!
That's me in the spot light!
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.

I thought that I heard you laughing.
I thought that I heard you sing.
I think I thought I saw you try.

But that was just a dream
Tryin', cryin' lyin' tryin'
That was just a dream
Just a dream.
Dream.


It all sound very much like it means something, but doesn't.
I really get a much better picture of what Jimbo looks like than what the relationship of the speaker in this song is to the "you" he addresses.
 
  • #29
hypnagogue
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zoobyshoe said:
I really get a much better picture of what Jimbo looks like than what the relationship of the speaker in this song is to the "you" he addresses.
There are an infinite number of particular instantiations that satisfy both accounts. Why is one more precise than the other?

I believe you think the Jimbo account is more precise because it specifies details on what is, sensorily, a more immediate level of description. The Jimbo account places most of its constraints on low level details, whereas the song places most of its constraints on high level details. So really, they are both equally precise, but just on different levels of analysis. We are left in the dark about the low level details in the song, but in the Jimbo account we are equally left in the dark about the high level details. Why do Jimbo's eyes shine with intensity? Is he a naturally intense person, or did he get that way from his scarring incident, or is he having a manic episode, or is he pining for his homeland, or what? On a physical level of analysis the Jimbo account has more meaning, but on a conceptual / emotional / subjective level of analysis the song has more meaning. I don't see any reason to privelege one level of analysis over the other.
 
  • #30
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hypnagogue said:
There are an infinite number of particular instantiations that satisfy both accounts. Why is one more precise than the other?
"Consider this: consider this: the hint of the century! Consider this."

Consider what? What is the "hint of the century"?

"That's me in the corner! That's me in the spotlight! Losin' my religion."

Even if we translate "losin' my religion to mean "At my wits end" as you maintain it means, what is all this about being in the corner and being in the spotlight? "At my wits end" is fairly specific, but added to the other two the picture is less rather than more clear. The association of corner with spotlight with being at one's wits end, goes nowhere, and means nothing in particular. The only real clue I have to what these things might point at is from the tone with which he sings it, which conveys anxiety/desparation to my ears. Since the lyrics mean nothing to me, he could have done the same singing "Dum dum da da dum dum".

I can go through the whole song that way.

I believe you think the Jimbo account is more precise because it specifies details on what is, sensorily, a more immediate level of description. The Jimbo account places most of its constraints on low level details, whereas the song places most of its constraints on high level details.
Now your use of the terms "low level" and "high level" details strikes my eye. I haven't run into this terminology before, and my first thought is that you are borrowing it from a preexisting discipline of which I am unaware.

That being the case, I can't automatically buy into the determination that some details are of a nature such that they are "lower level" than others. Why lower or higher? Who has made this judgement that some details are deemed "lower"? When people start descriminating things into classifications such that some are placed "lower" than others, it strikes me that there is a set of arbitrary values at work, and I'm certainly not sure I'm in accordance.

So really, they are both equally precise, but just on different levels of analysis.
This is what I disagree about. The song (the lyrics) is extremely imprecise on all levels. It is not precise on any level except if you propose he did not want it to be precise. In that case it could be called a successful attempt at imprecision. I think it is, but even more: imprecise yet precise-sounding.
I don't see any reason to privelege one level of analysis over the other.
That isn't what I'm doing.

If we take the song "Everybody hurts", I think it would fall into the category of "high level detail" of which you speak. Quite differently than "Losin' my Religion", though, it isn't vague or imprecise. I haven't listened to it recently, but I don't recall any physical, sensory descriptions of anything in it. Yet, I know what it's about, and I wouldn't think to have used it as an example of the kind of meaningless song I was bringing to Warren's attention. It's meaning is too clear and unmistakable.

"Losin' my Religion" might be described as collection of sentences that, while they do not as a whole, have a coherent meaning, all share the property that they all can be sung effectively in a tone of anxiety/desparation.

It is very much like the rohrshach test used by psychiatrists: "There is a saying: `People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.' What does it mean?"

Now that saying sounds pretty specific, but the more you examine it the vaguer it becomes and the more and more possible meanings it might have. This was a boon to psychiatrists when they realized how vague it was while sounding specific at the same time, because they realied that they could use it to take the psychological pulse, so to speak, of the patient. The way people answer that question, the sort of answer they give, can tell a psychiatrist a great deal of useful information about the person's mind, and neurological functioning. Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist is asked that question, or a similar one.

"Losin' my Religion" is even vaguer, on all levels, than the glass houses saying, and yet sounds twice as specific.
 
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