Thursday, September 25, 2008

Nihilism never sounded so good

Today I was reflecting on how many of my favorite lines in my favorite songs are completely contrary to what I believe. For example:

In the down tempo acoustic ballad "Amie", Irish troubadour Damien Rice wails,

"Something unusual, something strange,
Comes from nothing at all
But I'm not a miracle
And you're not a saint
Just another soldier
On a road to nowhere."

Yet Rice is unable to fully commit to this declaration, asking "Amie" to:

"Tell it like you still believe
That the end of the century
Brings a change for you and me"

This theme is certainly nothing new in music, as Simon and Garfunkal had already espoused linguistic deconstructionism in the early sixties with their number one hit "The Sound of Silence". In this beautiful song, the singer laments:

"In the naked light, I saw
ten thousand people, maybe more.
People talking without speaking,
People hearing without listening.
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dare disturb the sound of silence."

Here Garfunkel gives a haunting voice to Simon's dark conclusion: ultimately human's are incapable of truly communicating with each other.

Perhaps the logical culmination of postmodern philosophy is best seen in the work of the Argentine-Swede post-classical guitarist Jose Gonzalez. In "Cycling Trivialities" the song writer declares:

"Don't know which way to turn.
Every trifle becoming big concerns.
All this time you were chasing dreams,
without knowing what you wanted them to mean.

So how's it gonna be.
When it all comes down you're cycling trivialities. "

Later in the song, Gonzalez is led to conclude:

"Who cares in a hundred years from now.
All the small steps, all your shitty clouds.
Who cares in a hundred years from now.
Who'll remember all the players.
Who'll remember all the clowns."

The song concludes with several minutes of a single repeating musical phrase, with subtle variations occurring randomly- essentially a musical incarnation of naturalistic nihilism.

3 comments:

blbartlett said...

Thanks for the post! Over at www.christandpopculture.com, we just discussed nihilism in the movies in a podcast. Thought it might interest you. I hope seminary classes are going well!

Ben

Michael said...

Thanks ben. that's a pretty sweet blog you've got going on over there.

Darren said...

It's interesting how hip Nihilism is, even among brothers. Although, it seems I can't turn my eye or ear away from a worldview that explains what life is, without the hope of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

"I didn’t want to write about love but find other, though equally universal themes for the songs. These are things I have always been thinking about. But the last six months I became a lot more interested in it after I read the book The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. He’s an evolutionary biologist. But the lyrics are far from biological, I’d like to point that out. It’s mainly the theme that interests me, -José González

Even with this thought flowing through his lyrics I am drawn to his musicianship.