Re: Essential Neil Young
posted at 1/20/2014 4:30 PM EST
In response to yogafriend's comment:
You know, I agree with the concept of a song standing on its own to a certain extent. There are times, however, the meaning can be enhanced with knowledge of the singer / songwriter, but is it absolutely necessary. No.
I can't remember the song in question, but when I read an online discussion of a Nirvana song, I specifically remember one person said that he thought the lyrics were autobiographical, and it really helped him with some (youth-oriented) struggles; he said that if Cobain, who was famous, rich, and handsome had similar feelings of despair, it helped to neutralize his feelings and he didn't feel so alone. He felt more normal, for lack of a better word. Another commenter told him, no, the song was not autobiographical, it was "just a song" -- but the other poster didn't care. His response was, "how do you really know?" Anyhow, it was poignant to see that the song had helped this kid based on the way he interpreted it.
Frankly, the last bunch of posts could have been woven into another thread about the issues related to lyrics. Too late to bother, I guess.
People can and will see whatever they want in a song. I have no problem with that. If a song helps someone through a tough time, that is good.
I have a tendency to want to debate when a statement is made that sounds definitive about something that I happen to think is debatable. And even interpretation has its logical limits. There is the evidence of the lyrics and you can only read so much into words. This is a hangover from my English major days, when, like John Lennon, I started thinking that people sometimes read too much into words looking for "hidden" meaning. Sometimes songs are misinterpreted. For example, "Every Breath You Take" is played at many weddings, but supposedly is a creepy song about obsession.
Or back to Neil Young's "The Loner". On Wikipedia it suggests the song could be about Stephen Stills or could be autobiographical. My feeling is that when we get too hung up on looking for clues relating a song to the artist's real life, we get off track on really letting the song exist on its own as an artisitc creation.
I guess my philosophy about all this can be summed up by James Joyce in 'Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man'. In it, he writes, "The artist, like the God of the creation, remains within or behind or beyond or above his handiwork, invisible, refined out of existence, indifferent, paring his fingernails."