Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Times in Music

There’s something about waking up to Quarterflash’s “Harden My Heart” and then moving on to The Fray’s “You Found Me” that makes you stop and think.

Harden My Heart:

"All of my life I’ve been waitin’ in the rain. I’ve been waitin’ for a feeling that never, ever came. It came so close but always disappeared. Darlin’ in my wildest dreams I never thought I’d go, but it’s time to let you know … I’m gonna harden my heart. I’m gonna swallow my tears. I’m gonna turn and leave you here.”

You Found Me:

"And I’ve been calling for years and years and years and years, And you never left me no messages, You never sent me no letters, You got some kind of nerve taking all I want! .. Lost and insecure, you found me, you found me, Lying on the floor, where were you? Where were you? Just a little late, you found me, you found me!

Think about this a minute…

For those who aren’t pop music buffs, Harden My Heart came out in the Eighties. It’s fairly typical of Eighties pop. The music is “simpler” in that you hear the different parts of the music clearly and it all blends together. There’s a sharpness about it and the lead singer stands out from the music while still working with it.

You Found Me came out in 2007 and was recorded in 2008. It’s also fairly typical of today’s music. There’s a “mush” feel where all the sounds seem to run together and it’s hard to differentiate one from the other, including the lead’s voice. We hear the words because they’re louder but it’s still part of the mush. The instruments are less sharp. There’s more “extra” stuff that jumbles it all together. Okay, I’m not a music critic and am not qualified to be, but Youtube these two songs and you’ll get what I mean.

The lyrics are my focus for this entry. I am a word critic. That’s part of my job. So yes, I analyze songs for their lyrics. The differences here are amazing. Harden My Heart: things are tough for her, she’s been hurt and betrayed and feels lost. So what will she do about it? Get together. Deal with it. Move on. It’s part of life and it’s her job to handle it as she needs. You Found Me: things are tough, he’s feeling lost and betrayed. So what will he do about it? Find God (smoking on a street corner, btw) and rant to him about why He’s letting bad things happen to him and those he cares about.

Yes, huge difference here in lyrics, and in attitude. But then, they reflect the times from when they were written. Song lyrics from the late Sixties to early Seventies tend to be pretty similar in attitude as You Found Me. In truth, there was a lot of whining about the lack of fairness of things. It’s all over the music, set in its history. The late Seventies and early Eighties pushed that aside and took command. Whining was suddenly for wimps, and the Eighties weren’t going to be wimps. They’d stand up and take care of things that went wrong and move on.

I’m also not a political science expert, but I can tell you I sure appreciate the Eighties attitude of “can do” that we had naturally. We didn’t have to be told we could, or persuaded to maybe think we could. We could. And we did. Sure, times change. Things are hard. But then, things are always hard. That will never change. It’s our attitude about it that makes the difference.

Me, I’m a harden my heart and move along kind of gal. That’s the kind of music I listen to by choice, also. Yes, I’m an Eighties girl. I graduated high school in 1984 listening to Quarterflash and Huey Lewis and the News (It’s Alright) and Sawyer Brown (Shakin’) and Joan Jett (I Love Rock and Roll) and Michael Jackson. 

1562 I keep wanting to ask the guy asking where God was when things were tough, “What were you doing about it?” 


Cheryl Pierson said...

OH, Loraine!
I love this kind of post! I'm a music freak myself. Harden My Heart is one of my faves. Actually, I just love about every kind of music there is out there, except rap and the "new stuff" that's come out in the last 4-5 years. (Yes, I've completely gone country now...)LOL You know, one thing about music that I noticed, was that the music of the 60's and early 70's was more about love, peace, and what we could all do together ('come on people, now, smile on your brother, everybody get together, try to love one another right now...'etc.)But you're right, it gravitated toward the end of the 70's to being concerned about the fairness of things and whining a bit, and then into the 80's with DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. The 90's? Well...I had already started going country by then.LOL And by the 2000's we were given such gems as THE THONG SONG and WHO LET THE DOGS OUT?LOL
I love Huey Lewis and the News, and Rod Stewart, of course, Heart, Joan Jett, etc. Well, up to about 1990 I loved it all. Now, give me Trisha Yearwood, Alan Jackson, Vince Gill, etc.

LK Hunsaker said...

Hey Cheryl, yes the 60/70s were the peace and love era but there also so many protest songs, war protests, 'the man' protests... of course I understand the need for artists to express themselves about their social ideals, but I think too much protest attitude set too much of a negative tone. And that's what we're doing now, also.

The 90s ... yep, I went mainly to country in the 90s, also. The decade of the hippies' children making music was kind of a musical waste to much extent. Well, there was Madonna. She has talent of course, but I don't see that her effect on young girls was a good one. Cyndi Lauper I like okay, some songs. I was also a mom of young kids in the 90s so I was listening to Disney songs. ;-)

I'm back to mostly pop and rock (Matchbox 20, Nickelback, Bon Jovi who's sticking well from the 80s, Lifehouse) but I also love Tim, Faith, Keith Urban, Martina McBride, JoDee Messina.... Much of my ipod music is old stuff, though.

Unknown said...

LORAINE--I'm not a music buff or fanatic or analyst. I can't identify with much of it from the 60's, 70's or 80's. I'm sure there's something in there I liked, but I can't name a particular song.I'm still stuck in the fifties--and much of that also went over my head. The fact is, I can't comprehend the deep message of musical lyrics, unless they're very straight-forward. I think I'm missing a DNA link. That's probalbly why I like instrumental--classical music. Your thoughts on the subject is absolutely fascinating, comparing the lyrics to the social and business atmosphere. I did know the 60-70's produced self-centered people, at least many of them. And the 80's, yes, that was the era of "move up the corporate ladder, the years of big business, and the young man seeking a big important job." Thank you for an enlightening post. Celia

Maggie Toussaint said...

Hey Loraine!

I like to sing and bang on my guitar but I'm a far cry from a music buff, or bugg, if I'm typing on the wrong keys.

I like music where you can hear the lyrics distinctly. A crappy part about aging is that some sounds mush together and some cancel out. Clarity makes it easier for me to enjoy the music.

Great post!

Linda Banche said...

I'm not much of a music buff, but I like the attitude of "Harden My Heart" in books, too. I have no sympathy for whiners. Yes, life is unfair. Go out and do something about it.

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Loraine,
Interestinbg article, and I have to admit I am tone-deaf and only like country and western music.
Although I do like Rod Stewart. Personally,I think the 60's had the best songs, but probably before your time.

LK Hunsaker said...

Celia, I'm glad you enjoyed the entry!

Maggie, I've always had issues differentiating one sound from another so clarity in music is a necessity for me. I can't deal with mush.

Linda, exactly. DO something about it. Whining is anti-productive.

Margaret, there is 60s music I like: Beatles, some of the (non-whiny) folk music, and I know there's more. I love 50s music! Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, Elvis... beautiful age in music history. Upbeat, fun, sweet, safe for all ages, regardless of what they thought about Elvis's hips. ;-) I like Rod Stewart, as well.

Jane Richardson said...

This is fascinating. I did the high school thing at a similar time to you, LK, but of course with UK bands. We did have Hewey Lewis and Joan Jett here too, and I did love all of that American thing - same as the movies, Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, all those - but we also had the tail end of punk which transformed into New Wave, which I loved. Bands like The Jam, The Clash, etc. I still lived in Scotland then, and there was a massive indie scene there. It was much more social comment, and also some very quirky stuff. It was a great time. A bit of that moved into The Stone Roses, Oasis, Kaiser Chiefs, etc...maybe it's just nostalgia telling me it's not the same. ;-)
As for the 70s, I do appreciate the female singer/songwriter tradition that grew from that time - women writing about the female experience without having to resort to the 'he done me wrong' number. Joni Mitchell, I adore her music, but I didn't 'get' it till much later.
But like you, I don't like the wimpy stuff. ;-) I guess that's why I loved the smart, intelligent, seething fury of people like Paul Weller of The Jam. Don't take it lying down, but stand up and deal with it. Ah, me. Too much nostalgia! ;-)

Jane x

TC said...

Hmmm. No mention of bluegrass music. I reckon you have to know someone from Kentucky. ;~)

LK Hunsaker said...

Jane, I used the UK punk movement of the early 70s in my series since one of my heroes is from Scotland. ;-) I don't know a lot of punk, though. It's a touch hard on my nerves, lol! The purposely erratic sound is hard to deal with because it's a bit like a crowd of irritated people all yelling different things at once. Does that make sense? I'm not at all putting it down! I know it's led to some major changes with its social commentary. I respect that and I appreciate the underground buck-the-traditional-system tone. I just can't listen to much of it.

Yes, the women songwriters! Wonderful point! I grew up with Carly Simon, Helen Reddy, and such. They were in charge and stalwart and still feminine and positive and I like that.

Thanks for the input!

LK Hunsaker said...

TC, I love bluegrass, you know. It didn't fit in this particular entry but part of what I like about it is that it's so fun. There's also a lot going on at once but it manages to smooth all together in a harmonious way. Unlike punk which is discordant, bluegrass is easy to listen to and makes my brain happy. ;-)

By the way, I sure missed your group at the community concert. I still say you guys were the best.

TC said...

I know Ms. Lorraine, I was just funnin ya. ;~) I love your new Web site design. (But you might want to check out the "Home" link at the bottom of the left-hand column, it was taking me to an error page when I clicked it. Your "Home" link at the bottom of the page worked fine.)