Stunted By Reality Just another know-it-all talking about life, business, technology, sports and music.


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Listening to Bob Marley's song 'Stir it up' the other day I was reminded of how the art of making good music and combining it with equally good lyrics with depth and meaning seems to have largely passed this generation by.

'Stir it up' is a beautiful love-song tinged with overt sexual connotations implied by the well-written but simply structured lyrics. The suggestiveness is easy to miss given that the song has a touching melody accompanied by the catchy 'stir it up...., little darling,....stir it up....' refrain. However it's so well put together that unlike a Sean Paul classic, you could imagine it being played to the Queen if she happened to be touring a 'successful' multi-cultural community centre and nobody would bat an eye-lid. Well apart from Prince Philip, who like me has an inflated view of his wit.

In fact it would never have been a surprise if someone asked me what Marley's song meant, which I believe is testament to singer-songwriters of old that had the ability to use deeper language than the music I come across today. The use of similes, idioms and metaphors in music seems to be a lost art. It's possible I'm listening to the wrong music and there are some literary geniuses out there putting out good music but one thing is for sure there aren't many in pop music. (Not withstanding the unfair comparisons of ordinary musicians to Bob Marley, but hey please bare with me, I'm trying to make a point!)

It can be pointed out that the creative vision of artists from the past has been known to be over-exaggerated as George Town University did by starting a degree in Philosophy with Star Trek. However this could be as a result of the current creative dearth in art in general. I only need to refer to the infinite number of cover-songs and movie remakes to conclude that maybe I should test my own theory, that I can accurately guess the ending of 50% of all song lyrics, if you only tell me the first two words.

It's hard to think of too many songs currently on the airwaves which we will in all seriousness ask ourselves what the meaning was in a year or two. Ten years ago the British band Kean had a song about their disappointment with authority following the Iraq war. However the catchy melody of the song would have been equally at home in a Bridget Jones movie just as she once again raised her hopes in yet another Mr Right! I believe that is saying something about the skill of writing a song with a strong message using subtle enough lyrics that the record can be interpreted in various ways. Not pretentiously abstract, but just enough to be able to convey other emotions.

Indeed, if there wasn't video of Bob Marley singing 'Stir it up' you could imagine some expert in 100 years claiming that Marley could not possibly have written his music because it was just too good to be him. Just like those Shakespearean naysayers with PHDs. Hmmm mmm....

For current musicians, it seems that the only time we're likely to question song content is when we're wondering who some veiled or not so veiled reference to another famous person is. Although Beyoncé does have a famously second-guessed song about her ego, but even that does not display any amount of depth when it comes to word-play (apart from the possessive being applied to the ego when it is in fact apparent that she is talking about her male interest's ego as belonging to her). Beyoncé talks about the 'ego' being too big, too strong and not fitting (lord knows where?); pretty much in those words. I'm guessing here, but I'm sure I'm right that at the age of three Beyoncé was capable of writing the exact same lyrics to describe her four year old grubby-handed playground-crush's tantrums. It's a shame, but that seems to be the depth of language in current popular music. No one will be asking Rihanna what she meant on Rude boy; "Come here rude boy, boy, can you get it up?" or Taylor Swift on 'We are never ever getting back together'. No one.

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