Kofi's hat

Kofi's hat

MP3s, music news and reviews, and a sprinkling of pop culture. Named by Aqualung's Matt Hales, after his son.

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

Ink in my blood, a song in my heart. Metaphor is my middle name.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Song Meanings.Net - "Factual Song Meanings"

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Wonder what it means...

Tipped off by the L.A. Times, I checked out SongMeanings.net this afternoon. Fairly straightforward concept -- they combine song lyrics (221,770 lyrics, to be exact) and users' comments interpreting the songs. Other sites do something similar, but the twist here is (supposedly) the goal to get at the meaning of the songs. From my (admittedly limited) wandering about the site, I'm not terribly impressed. C'mon, guys, Edwin Starr's "War"? How hard should that be to interpret?

War (Huh, good god)
What is it good for?
Absolutely Nothing

"Obviously protesting the vietnam war!" - this according to the sixth person to comment. They were also the first person to mention it.

Some people don't talk about a song's meaning at all. Many comments are along the lines of "i love that song!!" There's a fair amount of gushing along those lines and plenty of chitchat. Think a singer's sexy? Have their autograph from when you met them a couple of years ago? Do tell!

The site's creator, Michael Schiano told the Times that users are encouraged to post "factual song meanings, personal experiences through the song, or even just their dismay for a song." Giving users wide latitude to post what they like saves the folks at his site from having to play Post Police, which would only alienate users anyway. I'm not thrilled with that term "factual song meanings." Users can't necessarily provide "factual song meanings" because most of them didn't write any of the songs they're discussing. They can hypothesize.

Sometimes even the person who writes a song gives multiple explanations of its meaning. So the term "factual song meaning" may not even be accurate as applied to songwriters, let alone "civilian" analysts. I think there's something rather cool about that. It's fun to ponder and theorize about song meanings, but there's beauty in the mysterious. Heck, look at what Einstein once said:

"The most beautiful emotion we can experience is the mystical. It is the power of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead. To know that what is inpenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms—this knowledge, this feeling, is at the center of true religiousness. In this sense, and in this sense only, I belong to the rank of devoutly religious men." - Albert Einstein

Well, then, if Einstein thinks this Schiano fellow is way off with that "factual song meaning" business, I'm certainly not going to argue with him! A song I can't figure out the meaning of is all highest-wisdom-y and radiant beauty-ish. In your face, Schiano.

Plus, some songs lack any comments. How am I supposed to figure out anything about The Replacements' "Fuck School" without help?!

mp3:The Replacements - Fuck School (From Stink, and brought to you with the public service announcement to stay in school! Not forever, but for a while. And study!)

mp3:Rilo Kiley - Don't Deconstruct (From Take-Offs & Landings) -- I know, too much Rilo lately, but c'mon, "Don't Deconstruct"... it's amusing! The exclamation point surely proves it, doesn't it?)

Linkage: "Don't Deconstruct" deconstructed at SongMeanings.net


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