Thursday, April 15, 2010

Music for Thought - Part 1 of 4

Good music you can just turn on and let play. We set a trap for ourselves however, when we stop listening to songs critically. When we allow a "feel-good" song to go in one ear and out the other, it loses it's constructive value. Even the most talented, terribly catchy, most requested song of all time isn't exempt from the Pauline command,

"...whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things."

In the weeks to come, and in this spirit of critical thinking, I would like to present four songs for your pondering pleasure. This week's song is "The Scientist" by Coldplay.

Check it out below, and then scroll down for discussion. The video won't make sense unless you watch it all the way to the end.

Right click HERE and select 'open link in new window' to view. (sorry folks, embedding was disabled)

Synopsis of Video:

The video starts with an up-close and creepy shot of a guy laying on what appears to be a blue mattress. After the seizure like way in which he stands up, it becomes obvious the video is actually a reverse narrative. Soon, we find our long-sleeved Under Armour friend walking backwards through the city, behind a random pickup game of basketball, and of course through the ever somber switch yard.

Suddenly, our guy is in the woods, and begins piecing together his best man-in-black outfit. After he gets in the car and shudders awake/asleep - it becomes obvious something is wrong. Your suspicions are confirmed when a woman begins floating above the hood of the car and goes right through a re-composing windshield. The car begins rolling up the hill, and eventually gets back onto a winding country road. We see the final moments of the happy couple just cruising along with the wind. Then, of course, we see the tragic moment when the girl, before putting on her jacket, unhooks her seat-belt.

Meaning of Lyrics:

There seems to be some unresolved tension between the boy and girl because he needs to tell her "I'm sorry" and makes a plea to "go back to the start". Also, later on in the song he begs her to "tell me you love me".

Presumably, these tensions were unable to be resolved due to the untimely death of the girl. Struggling to deal with the grief, the man mourns, "nobody said it was easy, no one ever said it would be so hard" and "it's such a shame for us to part".

Then he makes the fascinating statement, "Questions of science, science and progress, do not speak as loud as my heart". In other words, the problems that plague our scientific inquiries, and societal progress - are nothing compare to the questions that plague our hearts in times of deep loss.

As for the title of the song, I'll simply quote one YouTube commenter who observed,

" 'The scientist' is referring to him trying to reason things out about a failed relationship and going in circles because logic can't really be applied to love and emotions."

My Thoughts:

So what, if anything, can we learn from this emotional ballad of boy-loses-girl? The most obvious nugget of truth is that no science textbook, or technological advance of man can comfort us in times of sorrow. Certainly, various situations have arisen in my life when I've echoed the sentiment "nobody said it was easy, no one ever said it would be so hard".

Can't we all empathize with finding ourselves "running in circles", wanting to go "back to the start", wishing our life had turned out different? So is that it? We throw up our hands and conclude, "Yep, life stinks sometimes."

Can we not recognize the validity of our sorrow, and yet find some solace?

Psalm 13 starts our pretty bleak,

"How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I...have sorrow in my heart all the day?"

The Psalm doesn't end there, and I find that telling.

It goes on,

"But, I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me."

Notice this Psalm recognizes evil AND hope. The danger is when we only recognize one and not the other. If we only recognize evil, much like in "The Scientist", we lose sight of what God has done for us. If we only recognize the hope, we deny the severity of evil and it's consequences in the world.

God's love and salvation mean that we can have hope in the midst of evil. But without the hope of salvation, of God saving us from the evil in and around us - we mourn as those who have no hope.


1 comment:

  1. Well done!! I think the Philippians passage is very appropriate for such a discussion, and I think that Psalm 13 is specifically appropriate for the song that you chose to analyze. Psalm 13 is a SONG that starts with expressing the pain of suffering but ends with the hope that comes with trusting in the Lord's love.