Music Therapy

I consider myself a relatively musical person. I have been known to frequently break into song without warning and can find a song to sing for any and every occasion. Music has a powerful effect on my emotions and I have to be careful what type of music I listen to at a given time because it can change my mood almost immediately and put me in a funk if I’m not careful.

It’s amazing to me how powerful music is. It can unite a people for a cause; it can inspire others to make a change; it can make you cry, laugh, smile, and dream. There’s even a whole field of study dedicated to the therapeutic qualities that music can possess. And, while I celebrate the fact that music can truly feed the soul, I also am well aware of it’s negative consequences. No, I’m not talking about degrading women, or inciting violence, or proliferating prejudice. I’m talking about the bad advice that songs give us. And so, I give to you two songs with the worst advice ever:

I Am A Rock – Simon & Garfunkel

This song is one of my favorites. Every since I was little this song always put me in a good mood. Now, as an adult, I actually took the time to listen to the lyrics and have discovered that it is a song about a hermit who refuses to open himself up to new experiences because he is afraid he might get hurt. I pulled some of my favorite lyrics for analysis below:

“I have no need for friendship. Friendship causes pain. It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain.”
(Friendship = Pain)
That’s downright cheery. So basically, Simon and ‘Funk are telling us to stay away from people at all costs.

“If I never loved I never would have cried.”
(Love = Tears)
Although I don’t mean to be insensitive to their obviously scarring past experiences with relationships, I would like to point out that if they never broke an arm or got a paper cut or were spanked as a child they never would have cried either. There’s clearly a flaw in their argument.

“I have my books and my poetry to protect me./I touch no one and no one touches me.”
(Books + Poetry = No Physical Contact)
This line actually makes a whole lot of sense. If you’re head is stuck in a book all the time then you are definitely not going to get a date.

In all, this song is horrible advice for those wishing to pursue healthy relationships whether they be platonic or romantic. However, it is fabulous advice for those seeking to become socially isolated hermits with impressive vocabularies. Too bad they won’t have any friends to annoy with their obnoxious, pessimistic poetry.

Don’t Cry Out Loud – Melissa Manchester

Before I even begin to comment on the incredibly depressing nature of this song, I would first like to point out how easily the Disney Channel was able to make this the most disturbing music video I have ever seen. However, after looking at the lyrics I can see why the clowns are relevant. The song follows the story of “Baby” who hitched up with some clown (both literal and figurative I assume) and then got ditched at the circus, but not without leaving us with a few golden nuggets of advice:

“Don’t cry out loud.”
No. No. No. Silence is the worst thing to do! The only time I can ever recall silence being a good move was when Spartacus refused to step forward, but he died anyway.

“Just keep it inside.”
There have been countless studies that show that internalizing your emotions leads to depression, anti-social behavior, a short temper, lack of concentration, stomach problems, loss of energy, loss of hair, biting nails and much more. I don’t know about you, but I think that all looks really fun and exciting.

“Learn how to hide your feelings.”
Is this advice from Melissa or from the clowns? Because if it’s from Melissa then I can assume that these 3 easy steps led her to a life of fame and fortune. If it’s from the clowns then I guess it will lead me to a career of interpretive dance on a Disney stage.

“And if you should fall, know that you almost had it all.” 
I’m sorry, but I don’t see any positive. Baby never almost had it all. The entire song is about how awful her life was. What’s worse than being abandoned by your crazy clown hubby at the circus? The fact that she abandoned her own life for a life at the circus with her crazy clown hubby. If that was “all” she wanted then Baby’s had low standards.

In a way this song gives great advice for what not to do. So let’s try to flip it around:

Go on and cry out loud. Don’t keep it inside and don’t hide your feelings. Fly high and proud and if you should fall know that you probably didn’t have it all.

Not as catchy, but hey, I like the sound of it! Now can we get some more songs that give us advice on how to live happy, healthy, lives?

3 thoughts on “Music Therapy

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