Context Matters: Lesson 2 from "Some Nights"
<![CDATA[Last week I wrote about the profound experience I’ve been having with the song “Some Nights” by Fun during the Body Flow classes at my local Y. The first lesson had to do with how amazing it feels to move to music. Yes, it feels so empowering to warrior poses to this incredible music with words that…
…well, I really don’t know.“What’s that?” you say? “You don’t know the words to this meaningful, empowering song?” No, I don’t really. That’s the funny thing – my understanding of this song is totally built on my experience of the song in the context of this exercise class. So here it is.
Lesson #2: Context MattersI first paid attention to this song in the Body Flow class, but it turns out that this song was kind of a hit. Released as a single in the summer of 2012, “Some Nights” slowly climbed the pop charts over several months, peaking at #6 on the U.S. charts. It was even covered by the choir on the TV show “Glee.” Until I started browsing the web for some information, I had no idea who performed the song or what it was supposed to mean. I don’t know the songwriter’s back story. I don’t know what ambiguous feelings the songwriter is conquering, or the skeletons hiding in his closet. But guess what – the background still doesn’t matter to me. In this case, the context in which I experienced the song is what matters. So, the words that stick out for me are the only ones I really hear:
Some nights I stay up cashing in my bad luck
Some nights I call it a draw
Some nights I wish that my lips could build a castle
Some nights I wish they’d just fall off
But I still wake up, I still see your ghost
Oh, Lord, I’m still not sure what I stand for oh
What do I stand for? What do I stand for?
Most nights I don’t know anymore…This is where I find the core meaning of the song. I don’t really “hear” the rest of the lyrics, and goodness knows the official music video has no connection to what I picture when hearing this song.
Love that you find the song meaningful though you are unsure what it means. Sometimes music just resonates with us. The older I get the less I enjoy all my favorite music at just any time. There are some selections I love that irritate me to hear in certain situation. Knowing what resonates when is powerful.
Yes, I understand feeling irritated when hearing a song in the wrong situation. One example for me is that I love the opening of “Carmina Burana,” but I don’t much like hearing the tiny clips in commercials!
One song that hits this mark for me is “Imagine”–I love it most of the time, and it fires up my hopeful, optimistic side, but when I hear it in more commercial contexts, I am bugged. Thanks for another illustration of why a trained music therapist can really help better understand the meanings of music.
Hi Rachelle – I trained in expressive art and movement, and I love the feel of songs, and its odd to me when sometimes I finally hear the words and its not what I thought!
It is a strange experience, isn’t it?