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The Rolling Stones – You Can't Always Get What You Want Lyrics 6 years ago
I know I'm in the minority here, but I just HAATE this song. Mostly because it's aggrandized nonsense. I mean, they bring in a classically trained boys choir to a rock song, you figure there's something important to be said, right?

And yet...

"you can't always get what you want...."

No $#!^.
Who ever thought you could ALWAYS get what you want? It's the human condition to be frustrated about something or other at all times. We learn it in the crib when we want to stay up and mommy turns out the light. It's just an insipid statement masquerading as profound. I imagine telling Mick how much I want to cram a microphone down his freakish throat, and him telling me I can't always get what I want. "So, there's still hope?!?"

And then it gets stupider.

"...but if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need."

There is literally no meaning in this at all. It sounds like Jagger's urging you to try anyway. But,no. Logically, if you DON'T try you just might find you get what you need, too. Right? And if you try, it seems pretty likely you wont' get what you need, or what you want, right? or not, I guess.

So let me paraphrase the chorus:

"Try or do not try. There is no do."

or maybe:

"Um...just do what you want - it might work out, but maybe not. Why are you asking me?"

Sung by the most self-important sounding choir of all times.

submissions
Peter, Paul and Mary – The Great Mandella (The Wheel of Life) Lyrics 7 years ago
Thanks for the note, HippyFreak. It's safe to say both titles have been used. It's The Great Mandala on my "The Very Best of Peter, Paul & Mary" but it cleary was "The Great Manedlla" originally. Either they "fixed" it or they just chose an alternate spelling that might be less likely to be confused with Nelson Mandela (with 1 l). Both are correct titles. And both refer to the Wheel of Life, not the South African leader.

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Peter, Paul and Mary – Lemon Tree Lyrics 10 years ago
When I saw them in concert back in the 80s they sang this song, but they first apologized, saying they disagreed philosphically with the the message "Don't put your faith in love". For that reason they hadn't sung this song for many years. I remember they asked the audience to sing along, but they had fun with it, declaring that you should only join in if you're over 40: only the people over 40 could summon up the requisite bitter memories and sad wisdom (I'm paraphrasing here). We all had a good laugh.

I've seen alternate lyrics to the first verse that I think fix that problem, and actually make more sense metaphorically. (I think the Kingston Trio recorded it this way)

"My son it's most important," my father said to me "to put your faith in what you feel and not in what you see."

Better advice, I think, than "don't fall in love". Still, it doesn't quite work, because the guy in the song is clearly feeling plenty.

submissions
Peter, Paul and Mary – Too Much of Nothing (Bob Dylan cover) Lyrics 10 years ago
Very cool song. I love the contrast between the chorus and verses. Gorgeous harmonies.

I just want to know why they changed Vivian in the original to Marion. Vivian rhymes better with oblivion, and it's alliterative with Valerie. I wish they'd left it,

submissions
Peter, Paul and Mary – The Great Mandella (The Wheel of Life) Lyrics 10 years ago
I can't say enough about this song. It's absolutely haunting. It tears my heart out and leaves me shaken. The phrasing and the chord progression is unique and disturbing and lovely. But it is the story that is devastating.

A man of principle, a man of peace and dignity, gives up everything he has to effect change. Like so many have. He dies alone in a jail cell for his principles, without a friend, estranged from family, not appreciated or understood, an "enemy of the people". And ultimately there is no indication his sacrifice matters in the least: the killing continues unabated, he not a martyr for his cause. He was never thanked or supported and he will never know if he made the right decisions.

We can feel certain the man was admirably in the right. The songwriter clearly agrees values this man's principles and courage, even if the 3 speakers in the song do not. We see him as a lonely prophet being cut down by the runaway train of cruelty and ignorance and fear that is our society. Like so many have. But he is never celebrated, never martyred. He is forgotten or reviled. An utterly purposeless tragedy.

He has taken his place on the great mandala. For good or ill. The wheel of time doesn't notice.
And so have the others in the song: the father, the jailer, the ruler, and the people. They take their places beside his. And the wheel rolls on, until they aren't even a memory.

Is change even possible? The wheel metaphor suggest that ultimately it is not. As the second singer says, "He can't do it. He can't change it. It's been going on for 10,000 years." From this perspective, the man is misguided. He threw away his life for a hopeless cause. He's has "lost" and wasted his life.

But knowing the songwriter as we do, this is not the intended message. We know he disagrees with the second singer, because he's been fighting for change his whole life. The losers are really the people who choose to rationalize their own views and refuse to accept the man's message, because they are creating exactly the dystopia they think is unavoidable. Like so many have.

So we are forced to ask: what place will we ourselves take on the wheel? Consciously or not, we all choose our place on the great mandala. We have this brief moment to choose who we will be and what we will stand for. And, we are forced to confront the possibility that all our hopes and efforts will amount to nothing. I find it both excruciating and sublime that even the song refuses to reward the man for his sacrifice. Because the great mandala won't reward you either. The song ends on the disturbing thought that "if you lose you've only wasted your life." It's very ambiguous who the loser is here. And as frustrating as that is, that's exactly as it should be. You must decide for yourself.



submissions
Peter, Paul and Mary – The Great Mandella (The Wheel of Life) Lyrics 10 years ago
Huge error. The song title is "The Great Mandala", not the great Mandella. It refers to the great circle of time in Hindu/Buddhist belief. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandala

It does not refer to Nelson Mandella. Funny the chorus is right. How do we get the title to change?


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Talking Heads – And She Was Lyrics 12 years ago
Sheez. Just because the song arose from a recollection about a girl's acid trip does not mean the song is "about" an acid trip. Or maybe I should say it doesn't mean the song is ONLY about that acid trip.

There must have been something about what the girl experienced or how she described that experience that caught Byrne's imagination, don't you think?

Those of you who say "it's about an acid trip" are suggesting Byrne could not have added any meaning to it beyond the original event. Small minded at best. Why did he choose to write about her? What was interesting about her to Byrne? What meaning did he draw from it?

Maybe it's just me, but I don't think you write such an interesting and evocative song if you're just saying "drugs are funny". In fact, based on the girl's comments, Byrne's song seems to have radically departed from the original event in service to his ideas.

Clearly Byrne remembered how this person described an out of body experience, and it got Byrne thinking...

My own interpretation about it is that it describes the separation of a consciousness from a body that comes after a life (that is, a death). (I don't see any reason to suspect a suicide, however. Let's just say she had an accident. She doesn't seem to care anymore, herself.) This to me makes the title absolutely wonderful "And she was". Past tense. It's literally saying she no longer IS.

In this context, I love this song. There's no fear or pain or regret: it's wondrous and happy. There's "rising" and "floating", there's seeing her own body lying in the grass, there's elevated perception, there's casual distracted awareness of everything around her, there's separation from the mundane reality (taking off her dress, which I like to think of as shedding her corporeal body) and there's her ultimate joyful expansion and re-absorbtion to the universe itself.

It's a playful, even ironic take on such a usually "serious" topic, to my ears.


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Talking Heads – Once In A Lifetime Lyrics 12 years ago
Of all the interpretations so far (78 as of now), i think this one best conceptualizes the water imagery, which otherwise seems disconnected to the rest of the song. The cycle of water is decidedly outside us and more "real" and important to the universe than any of the things that make up our ephemeral journeys or achievements.

I would add that I find importance in the idea of an invisible inexorable flow, because I think it's provided as a kind of answer answer all the existential questions asked by the various people in the song: there is something bigger and beyond us that affects us and has brought us to wherever it is that we "find ourselves". That thing may be conceptualized cosmically as a god or chi, or karma, or whatever.

For myself, I see it as reminding us of the powerful, impersonal, sociological forces that cause some of us live in beautiful houses and others of us live in shotgun shacks, which we are normally ignorant of, simply because we only have our one life perspective to view it from. We operate under the convenient fiction that we control our life outcomes with intention and by our merit, but of course, we are at the whim of many processes we never recognize. And it is rarely (perhaps only once in a lifetime), that we come to a point where we ask the profound existential questions that leads us to the terrifying possibility that our life may a be out of our control, an accident of fate. You might just as easily have "found yourself" in some other life entirely. Or more profoundly, that one's beautiful house and large automobile (or lack thereof) are not a necessarily just and earned reward or punishment for the quality of your mind and heart. Same as it ever was.


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