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The Meaning of Songs

Updated: Nov 3, 2019

"Music touches us emotionally, where words alone can't" ~ Johnny Depp

Songs are often used as a way for people to escape what is going on in their lives and to find an inner peace that they might not otherwise be able to find. Whenever I am going through something, if a particular song either comes on the radio or on my playlist, if that song resonates with me and I can relate it to whatever situation I am going through, then whenever I hear that song again, it takes me back to that particular time in my life. And I am sure this is something that many of you reading this can relate to as well.

I think the first time I can remember relating a song to an episode in my life was when my Grandad sadly passed away four years ago. I was walking home from school one day and was listening to a playlist I had, however I could not really relate any of the songs in that playlist to how I was feeling at the time. So that is why I decided to do a little google of songs to do with losing your Grandad, when I came across an Ed Sheeran song that I had not heard of before called 'Afire Love', and I instantly connected to the lyrics. Since this moment, I have used song lyrics as one of my coping mechanisms for whenever I am going through a rough patch. Some of the songs that have helped me include: 'Bridge Over Troubled Water' (the one released after Grenfell fire), 'Good Grief' (Bastille), and 'Last Request' (Paolo Nutini).

I do believe that whenever we hear the lyrics to a song, sometimes we interpret the lyrics to mean something that the artist was not trying to portray when they wrote the song. For example, in the song 'Drops of Jupiter' by Train, I think a lot of people (and I include myself in this) translated the lyrics as being about a girlfriend of a member of the band that had left him but had recently returned. After doing a little research a couple of years ago, I discovered that the song is actually about the lead singer's (Patrick Monahan) mother, who had died from cancer. But does this mean that just because we portray a song to mean something different to what the artist had actually written about mean that we need to find out what the song was actually written about before we relate it to whatever it is we are going through?

No, it absolutely does not.

The truth is, we all often turn to songs to help us get through our grief; whether that be the death of a loved one, a break-up, or anything else that might cause us to be upset. I think that in the moment of our grief, once we hear that song that we can immediately relate to, we associate that song as being about whatever it is we are going through. Even if at some point we realise that that song did not actually mean what we thought it did, that does not mean that we have to stop associating it with that one particular event in our lives. The song may mean something else but as long as it has helped you get through a certain low point in your life, then does it really matter what the song actually means?

No, it absolutely does not.

I think that as long as we are able to find some form of comfort in a song, then no matter what the meaning of it, we should be able to carry on listening to it to get through all of the difficult times in our lives. Yes, whenever we hear that song long after that time of our lives is over, it does take us back to that time. And yes, sometimes this is not necessarily a good idea as that song is a memory of something we would rather forget than remember, and hearing it takes us back to a place that we would rather not go back to. But these songs are like a comfort blanket for all of the times in our lives when we need to hear them. Even if we would rather not admit that we get the comfort in our lives from some lyrics of a song written by a person that we do not even know and would rather be able to say that we got this comfort and reasoning from an actual human being that we do know and hold dearly to us, these songs are a comfort in our times of need and without the gift of music, we may not be able to get through some of the worst times of our lives. Because music really is a gift and our lives really would not be the same with it.

Love Beth xx

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