History and Future: The Window of Lyrics Like 0 Twitter Joe Broadmeadow Follow Oct. 2, 2016, 8:30 a.m. in Life and Styles Views: 900 Like us on facebook Music has always been an important part of my life. Serving as a soundtrack, memory anchor, and source of entertainment and inspiration. I am always fascinated by the way the human mind works, memory in particular. Memory is a mystery. I often cannot recall things I did mere moments ago, yet I can recall the lyrics of songs I haven’t heard in decades. The lyrics of the songs which have most influenced my life seem to lie just below the surface of my conscious brain, waiting for the first few notes of the melody to bring them bursting forth. I wonder if every generation has such memories. This got me thinking of the lyrics of songs that made it to the top of the charts over the course of my lifetime. Curious if there was some commonality in the lyrics that made them resonate with us. Looking at these revealed some interesting things. I wonder if music, along with economics, social attitudes, and incarceration rates, can measure the health of a society. I think the sixties marked the emergence from the euphoria of the victorious end of WW II and launched a new era. In 1956, the year I was born, the number 1 hit was Heartbreak Hotel by Elvis Presley. He holds the number 1 and 2 position for that year. I dare say Elvis resonates with many, foreshadowing the shift in American society coming just over the horizon of the 60’s. In 1960, the number one song was The Twist. Twist Come on baby Let's do the twist Come on baby Let's do the twist Take me by my little hand And go like this Ee-yah twist Baby, baby twist Ooh yeah, just like this Come on little miss and do the twist My daddy is sleepin' And mama ain't around Yeah, daddy just sleepin' And mama ain't around We're gonna twisty twisty twisty Till we tear the house down Once again, the opening lines of a change in the air. Still focusing on the pleasures of music and the freedom to let oneself go as you “…twisty twisty twisty. Till we tear the house down.” The number 2 song of the 1960’s was Hey Jude and number 3 was Theme from a Summer Place. Of these three, it is the melody and lyrics of number 3 that resonate with me. There's a summer place Where it may rain or storm Yet I'm safe and warm For within that summer place Your arms reach out to me And my heart is free from all care For it knows… …And the sweet secret of a summer place Is that it's anywhere When two people share All their hopes All their dreams, all their love The decade of the seventies, an important one for my friends born in 1956, began with one of the most iconic songs of all time. Bridge over Troubled Water …When you're weary, feeling small When tears are in your eyes, I'll dry them all (all) I'm on your side, oh, when times get rough And friends just can't be found Like a bridge over troubled water I will lay me down Like a bridge over troubled water I will lay me down When you're down and out When you're on the street When evening falls so hard I will comfort you I'll take your part, oh, when darkness comes And pain is all around Like a bridge over troubled water I will lay me down Like a bridge over troubled water I will lay me down The decade, from my perspective, didn’t end well musically. The number 1 song of 1979 was My Sharona. I had to look up the lyrics. The only part I could remember was the repetitive chorus. …Never gonna stop, give it up, such a dirty mind I always get it up, for the touch of the younger kind My, my, my, aye-aye, whoa! M-m-m-my Sharona M-m-m-my Sharona Hints of the descent into a dismal creative hell. Less elegant lyrics written without heart and soul. 1980, the beginning of the next decade, led off with a mixed bag. The number 1 song was Call Me by Blondie. Cover me with kisses, baby Cover me with love Roll me in designer sheets I'll never get enough Emotions come, I don't know why Cover up love's alibi Just doesn’t have the same effect as “Like a bridge over troubled water.” There was a hopeful sign with the number 2 song Another Brick in the Wall by Pink Floyd, but by the end of the decade, the descent was out of control. The number 1 hit of 1989 was Look Away by Chicago. Now I have always loved the music of Chicago, but this was not the same band. Cetera had left the group; the outstanding horn elements were missing. And the lyrics? Once again, I had to look them up. When you called me up this mornin' Told me 'bout the new love you found I said, "I'm happy for you, I'm really happy for you" Found someone else I guess I won't be comin' 'round I guess it's over, baby It's really over baby, whoa… A far cry from Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is? By 1998 the demise of civil society was in full, raging rampage. Here are the lyrics to a song from that year. The song is called Ho. If this invokes a Christmas Carole theme in your mind, the words will dispense of it forthwith. The artist is called Ludacris. And the lyrics? Well, they “speek fo demselfs.” “Ho” …You doin ho activities With ho tendencies Hos are your friends, hoes are your enemies With ho energy to do whacha do Blew whacha blew Screw whacha screw Yall professional like DJ Clue, pullin on my coat tail an why do you think you take a ho to a hotel? Hotel everybody, even the mayor Reach up in tha sky for tha hozone laya Come on playa once a ho always And hos never close they open like hallways An heres a ho cake for you whole ho crew an everybody wants some cuz hoes gotta eat too Somehow, I don’t see those lyrics inspiring anyone. If they are the soundtrack of the lives of some of our fellow Americans, then perhaps there is something to be learned in the words and melodies of our music history. Everyone’s taste is different. A style that uplifts one may annoy another. There’s plenty of room in the world for all types of music. Every word written as a part of music doesn’t need to inspire or uplift or even be memorable. Sometimes, just a catchy tune with simple lyrics is enough. Yet, when we look at the overall level of literacy and language used within music. When we compare what once filled the musical airways with what came later. We may see something reflective of society. And we may not like what we see. 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