10 March, 2010

A couple Neil Young lyrics

Yesterday I heard a cover of Motion Pictures by an unfamiliar band on the blues radio stream I like to listen to. It was a pretty faithful cover, I'd say. It's not really my style of song - kind of "country mellow" - but hearing it on this station, surrounded by blues songs, and covered by a blues band, reinforced my feeling that it's a good song. Of course, having heard my brother perform the song in the past has helped to polish my appreciation for it, as well. Although it still doesn't hold a candle to the other songs from On The Beach that I like more (especially the title track). :p

Switching gears, let's talk about a lyric from Cowgirl in the Sand, a song I've been playing regularly for years, before which I spent some time listening to it obsessively. While playing the song recently, I got to the second verse, where the line about "rust" comes into play. But it's the part just after that that I want to talk about:

After all the sin we've had,
I was hoping that we'd turn bad

Sometimes I'll sing or listen to a lyric for a long time and not really think about it - whether I understand what it means or not - and then suddenly the line will hit me. Well, I've always been slightly confused about this particular line (and it's not the only line in this song that's confused me). It's just - I'd think to myself - if we've had all this sin, then are we not bad already? Isn't the reason we've partaken of all this sin because we turned bad in the first place?

Or perhaps it goes something like this. We tried out all this sin, just for the fun of it. And then we were expecting it to turn us bad. But it didn't. We remained good. So maybe we turned out not to really like the sin all that much in the end? Maybe we ultimately found out, to our disappointment, that we weren't cut out for the sinful life after all?

Well, the "revelation" that hit me the other day, was to take the phrase "turn bad" as having the connotation of spoiling, like with food. We tried out all this sin, hoping that it would turn us bad, in order to reinforce our beliefs - handed down to us through religion - that sin destroys man. Sort of a proof that sin is bad. But after trying all this sin, we didn't turn bad. We were perfectly fine. Which actually disproves the religious angle, and instead suggests that sin isn't all that bad, isn't a big deal after all. It's not something we have to avoid, because it's not going to turn us bad...

The other lyric I wanted to mention is from the song The Last Trip To Tulsa. I've had this thought more than once while listening to the song. It has to do with this part:

I was driving down the freeway,
when my car ran out of gas.
Pulled over to the station,
but I was afraid to ask.

The service men were yellow,
and the gasoline was green.
Although I knew I could not,
thought that I was gonna scream.

When I hear this part, I can't help thinking that it's a perfect description of social anxiety. You've gotta get gas but you're too afraid to talk to the men at the station. Anxiety creeps in, and you start noticing the little details - like the color of the gas. The stress overwhelms you and you feel like you wanna scream, but you know you could never actually draw attention to yourself like that.

I know the feeling. And it's the fear of it that keeps me from taking trips to Tulsa more often.

1 comment:

  1. I agree 110%.

    Here's a lyric that has always confounded me, from Alvin Lee... "Well I've got no worries, and I've got no pain. 'Cause when I get rid of them, they come back again."

    I can't help but to feel that it's genius, as if to say that because you can't get rid of worry and pain, it doesn't matter. If you're always going to have worries and pain, so be it, just move on. But... I'm not sure that totally makes sense. Because then you're still left with worries and pain.