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got to the point of giving up on you
coz I never seemed to ever get through
but in a moment of peace I think I understand
why it is you want to live as an island and
sometimes all you need is self preservation coz
the water around you gets so full of confusion
so hold on in the shelter you find and
take refuge in the warmth of your mind
why ya ya you
accomodate the resolution
to release the weight that you're compensating
it resinates with the revolution
this is you're own personal ad for evolution
sharman a nah nah nah nah
everyone's got to do
got to do what they've got to do
everyone's going through
got to go through what you're going through



Lyrics submitted by walking blues

Island Man song meanings
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    General CommentThis is probably cheating because I know this song was written about me. So, I guess this is a kind of right of reply if you like - undertaken with the comforting knowledge that there's buckley's anyone's ever going to read this.

    Disclaimers over, this song opens with a proclamation of insight reached by the writer who has, up to now at least, viewed the "island man" as incorrigibly impervious to the writer's point of view ("never seemed to ever get through"). In this declaration, the writer acknowledges he's previously struggled to understand the island man's behaviour of social withdrawal - but now kind of gets it(?).

    You might think this latter bit of the lyric suggests the start of a meditation on interpersonal reconciliation and self-reflection. Read on.

    Obviously, something happened to make the writer see a glimpse of the island man's perspective (although we're not told what that is). On the surface of it, the writer's response could almost be called empathy. It certainly seems that's the writer's intention.

    But I'd argue this lyric misses the mark in the empathy stakes. Empathy relates to an experience that provides insight into what someone else is experiencing. Intentional empathy invariably requires a certain amount of guesswork because none of us are mind-readers (and there are clearly extant communication difficulties between the writer and mr island man). But an equally vital ingredient of intentional empathy is for the empathiser to check in to see if their guessed "empathic" experience accurately represents the experience of the other. This is opposed to simply assuming one knows what the other is experiencing - that's arrogance not empathy.

    In a song such as this, such "checking in" can only be achieved by self-reflection within the lyric - ie, for the writer to either acknowledge the assumptions he is making (beyond the misunderstanding), or at least make reference to the very relative way we all construct meaning from disjointed and fragmented pieces of information such that none of us have privileged access to another's thoughts/experiences.

    So, I guess what I find most striking about this song is how it does not question its own presumptions or premises for the appraisals that it makes. For example, I'd love to know why hasn't the writer been able to get through to mr island man? Clearly, the implication is that the reasons for this miscommunication lie at the feet of mr island man, because...well he's taken the phone off the hook (figuratively speaking). This betrays a basic lack of appreciation of the fact that interpersonal communication difficulties are inherently two-way streets.

    A thought experiment to illustrate my point; what if one’s mind is briefly freed from the narrow constraints of this lyric and (reasonably) assumes there was communication between the writer and mr island man prior to his microcontinental conversion? Where did that previous communication go wrong?

    Gaping historical holes notwithstanding, there's no exploration of the complex issue of miscommunication – a central premise of the song. One would guess from the tone of this lyric that any such exploration wouldn't involve a whole lot of self-reflection if it occurred.

    The "hold on..." and "take refuge..." lines deserve particular attention because they belie an assumed privileged and somewhat condescending position-of-knowing. They seem to assume that the island man would benefit from the apparently sage advice these lines impart. This is an interesting way to communicate a newly found understanding and acceptance of someone's behaviour. Its like, the observer has had a glimpse of understanding and so now officially gives mr island man permission to carry on exercising free will in choosing what's best for himself.

    The logic of this lyric thus goes..."When I briefly stopped trying to get you to see things my way, I realised there are legitimate reasons for you doing what you are doing...so, here's my advice on what you should be doing now". Mr island man thanks the writer for his advice, but is still struggling with the logic.

    You'd think that finally becoming cognisant of having been unreasonably judgmental towards someone would prompt anyone to stop and check their own yard stick rather than rush in and immediately start offering advice to the receiver of their misjudgment. Its like saying "Hey, I misunderstood you, haven't really reflected on it, but guess what, this is what you should do now". Did someone hear a microcontinental tremor?

    Pray tell, what if the island man doesn't need advice on how to behave? I'm not saying island man does or doesn't benefit from sage advice, its just that the absence of self-questioning here suggests that this lyric is unlikely to possess much in the way of sageness.

    Killer melody, riff and groove though.

    Check Loren's song "anger and tools" (not yet posted) for the use of lyrics and music to convey a vitriolic diatribe of projected blame via tortured analogy. Top use of the beautiful art of music. This one is also about me. I look forward to critiquing it if posted.
    jahjedion May 09, 2008   Link

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