Check the Blueprint

The mindset in which music is created has always been a large part of what I listen to and what I don't. I don't listen to Hip Hop, but I listen to Kero One. I don't listen to Emo, but I love “I Wish” by Semisonic, and so on. Whether or not the artist has respect for their audience is almost more important, in my mind, than measure of musical ability.

Adjunct to this fact, I think, is that traditional love songs have never appealed to me. I think “Our House”, by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young is a sweeter love song than anything a boy band ever produced:

Our house
Is a very very very fine house
With two cats in the yard
Life used to be so hard
Now everything is easy 'cause of you

This isn't a new sentiment, but it's a slight variations on what you see in the traditional “You're the light of my life”, “I'll give you the moon and the stars”, “We were made for each other” fare that you see, which I've become largely inured to the effect of. Compare the above quote from “Our House” to Rod Stewart's “Have I Told You Lately”:

You fill my heart with gladness
Take away all my sadness
Ease my troubles, that's what you do

They say very similar things, but which one is more effective? I think the comparison is instructive.

Personal opinion varies, as it must, but I think “Our House” feels more genuine. Because it doesn't repeat the same sentiments in the same way, it gives the impression that the songwriter put more thought into its creation, and because it hasn't been repeated endlessly, it remains more enduring. (Rod Stewart, of course, gets a huge amount of credit for being on the first wave of performing his particular brand of love songs, but I think their time has passed for the moment)

Likewise, the version of “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” from the movie is, I think, a more interesting love song (despite being only about two minutes long) than Elton John's commercial release, because it contains the lines:

He's holding back, he's hiding
But what, I can't decide
Why won't he be the king I know he is?
The king I see inside

Obviously this couldn't make for a commercial release, because it's so inextricably tied to the plot of the movie, but this is a sentiment that I simply don't see in commercial love songs. It's implied that Nala loves Simba because she sees the king inside him. As Natalie would no doubt say, it makes any man who stops and thinks about it, say to himself, “Does my significant other see a king inside me?” Am I of regal bearing? Do I command respect? Am I benevolent to those both above and below me? Is the hallmark of my life the grace of the divine?*

All introspection aside, this one simple concept has all of these associations. I've already diatribed about the power of archetypes, and “The Lion King”, being basically a Joseph Campbell cookie cutter story, has no shortage of them, but because it was animated beautifully, and cast with lions rather than a generic medieval kingdom, it remains significantly more enduring.

There are no more new stories. The only thing that remains is to tell them in new ways.

*I use the term “King” to be in direct reference to the song, and because that is the way that Natalie is most apt to talk about it. All of these are unisex concepts, to be sure.

1 comment:

Sestren said...

The concept is true of instrumental music as well. Compare the soundtracks of Coraline and, say, Dennis the Menace (I'm aware that this is like comparing diamonds to a used plastic fork, but work with me for a second). Both movies revolve around child protagonists, and both are meant to appeal to younger audiences, but I guarantee that if you didn't see either movie for ten years straight, you would still remember Coraline's music.