Friday, 18 March 2011

The Sound of Failure

For the last little while I've been enjoying a couple of Flaming Lips albums - Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots and more particularly At War with the Mystics.  How these guys managed to slip by me for so long I'm not sure.  Perhaps the fact that there's a bit of electronica involved would have led me to read reviews and think "that doesn't sound like me".  However, their most recent album is a cover of The Dark Side of the Moon so that got my attention.  They're a clever bunch.  Complex rhythms, interesting melodies, and lyrics that make you think.  My ongoing favourite is called The Sound of Failure

She's starting to live her life
From the inside out
The sound of failure calls her name
She's decided to hear it out

So go tell Britney and go tell Gwen
She's not tryin' to go against all them
'Cause she's too scared and she can't pretend
To understand where it begins or ends
Or what it means to be dead
It's just a sound going through your head
Let them go on

Standing there in the graveyard
While the moon sprays its fireworks in your hair
The sound of failure calls her name
She's decided to hear it out

You can't get to my age without suffering your share of grief and bereavement, like the character in this song.  Sometimes you just don't want or need to be cheered up.  You want to listen to maudlin music and think about your own mortality and fallibility.  It's OK, it's normal, it's part of the human condition.  I think Tolkein says somewhere (although I can't find it now) that the songs of men are always tinged with the sadness of mortality.  As opposed to the songs of elves.
 
Or perhaps you might prefer the words of the late lamented Mark Heard.
 
These plastic haloes, they seem so out of place
Behind the mask lurks a scarred and fragile face
We lie so spiritually, familiar smiles displayed
This fleeting masquerade
 
In stone grey silence we do not face our fears
We bite our lips and we press on with feeble cheers
With hearts of sadness we say our thankful prayers
Refusing comfort unawares
 
We learn the protocol, we bare our souls to none
We praise our peers for the optimism shown
"Brave men don't cry" we say as we watch the world turn to dust
The tears of God fall for us.

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