With the invention of the Walkman, music has become less of a communal act and more of a solitary one. It gets hard to talk about music and communication in the same breath, when people immediately stop talking when an especially good song is playing. Can music really teach us anything about communicating with others? Read on to find out.
1. Mikageishi by UVERworld
“‘You say that it’s for us, but all you do is work’
‘I want you to treasure your friends, but do you love me?’
I gave you so many lonely memories that you don’t know the answers to these things if you don’t ask”
Mikageishi is probably the most romantic song UVERworld has sung so far, and Takuya is really good at writing tearjerking lyrics. I can’t say that tune-wise Mikageishi is one of my favourites, but I’ll never forget its touching lyrics, one of which is the paragraph above. It’s natural that sometimes we would develop doubts about our romances, especially for the ladies. It’s not always the fault of the gentlemen; it’s not that they don’t neglect or mistreat the ladies, but it’s easy to forget love and suspect that it no longer exists. It’s indeed hard to lavish constant attention on a lady just to keep her “pacified”, and there’s no guarantee that she won’t capitalise on your affections and take advantage of you. You know ladies, always trying to spend your money and control your liberty. It’s better to “pretend to be cool” and keep her at an emotional distance.
But if you don’t say it, how would people know?
Lesson: eliminate misunderstandings.
The most obvious reason to talk is to prevent misunderstandings that would have arisen had you kept silent. It doesn’t apply to just your lover, but family members, friends and even strangers as well. It can be shocking sometimes the thoughts that arise in somebody’s mind as a result of their fertile imaginations. As UVERworld says, “you don’t know the answers to these things if you don’t ask”. Rather than generate misunderstandings, ask. And if you’re on the other end of the understanding spectrum, clarify. Clarify your feelings and clear the air.
2. Machi Monogatari by Yamashita Tatsuro
“The back alley kids became adults without notice,
they began to know true love little by little,
to sigh to the twilight, to get lonely to the sound of the rain.
Even during the vague season they can’t wait, search for love, get attracted, they whisper ‘I’ll be happy’.
The memory of this goofy love
became the story of the city
and the life goes on”
Machi Monogatari is a very olden song, but it is by no means old. It was released in 2010, but the singer, Yamashita Tatsuro, is 60 years old this year, meaning he was 57 at the time he sang this song. His voice is very pleasant and special, a relaxed laid-back old man reminiscing about life. And life, as depicted in Machi Monogatari, is a very different sort of life from the one portrayed in the cities that we know today. We know only hustle and bustle, the stresses about getting through each day having completed as much as we possibly can. But the city in Machi Monogatari is a totally different one. It is a slower, older city, the kind that was relegated by the passage of time, left to expire on its own. But it never did die out. It slowed in comparison to the prominent ones around it, but it lived its own life, strongly and heartily. And maybe in the future, it will prove that its lifestyle is the one to outlast all the rest.
Lesson: learn more about other ways of life
Listening to Machi Monogatari is like a space travel moment. The slow but persistent melody and the confident vocals seem to teleport you to one of the old cities of Kyoto, where it is much slower-paced. You feel like you’re living the life of one of those back alley kids, with their painful but tempting naivete. And you start to question if maybe you’re really so different from those kids after all.
And that’s what music does. It communicates to you a different way of life. You live this new life from the inside, the perspective of a native, and start to question your own life that you’ve taken for granted. And guess what? You can achieve that by talking and interacting with people who lead different lives from you too!
Just that you experience the life of a back alley kid from the song, you can do the same by talking to an actual back alley kid and listening to how he perceives the world. Communication is the medium through which we learn, and music only catalyses the medium. This is why we should socialise and befriend all kinds of people and sincerely learn from them.
3. On My Way by FLOW
“I’m on my way and I won’t turn around
Goodbye to yesterday Say “Hello tomorrow”
With you All the members
There’s no turning back anymore
I’ll keep dreaming til I get there How far are you?
But I know I’m on my way
Thank you my friends To people we’ve met
Who stayed and who left
I feel like the reason why we’re here
After all these years Is because of you
Who made all of our greatest dreams come true”
Some eminent singers, after they’ve gathered a considerable fan following, will release songs dedicated to their fans, thanking them for the faithfulness to them all these years. Flow is no exception, and On My Way is probably one of the most blatant songs they have for that. Aside from the interesting tidbit that the entire song is in English, as a tribute to the large fan following they have in America, this song serves to commemorate 10 years of being in the music industry. Being one of their fans (though not a long-time one) I feel quite gratified that they address us all in their song.
Lesson: communication builds relationships
Sometimes a simple word of thanks can go a long way towards making somebody’s day, and can also generate friendly feeling among you. It is simple expressions of camaraderie that foster relationships and build trust in the long run, and when you’re in trouble, you’ll be glad you took the small effort. FLOW knew that a way to keep their fans’ support is to thank them, and what better way to do so than to give them what they like — a song?
So don’t hold back on positive communication. Smile and greet people you know, and maybe even people you don’t, and don’t be frightened to go out and make new friends!
4. Someday by Eternal
Our fight will be won then
We’ll stand in the sun then
That bright afternoon
On days when the sun is gone
We’ll hang on
If we wish upon the moon
There are some days dark and bitter
Seems we haven’t got a prayer
But a prayer for something better
Is the one thing we all share”
I believe that there were 2 separate occasions when I heard this song, and I couldn’t keep tears from flowing out of my eyes. Someday is the theme song for the Disney movie The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and this is the album version, which was faster-paced and more “rock”, whereas the song played in the movie was slower and more relaxed, and I think it didn’t depict the feeling very well. Someday is easily my favourite song in the Disney album, and I feel that it brings me strength and hope even in the dark days. I feel that even when I’m alone, I’m not really alone.
Lesson: show support in times of need
This is probably one of the best reasons for communication. When somebody is feeling down and desolate, it can make a big difference to show that you’re there for them, by their side always, no matter what. It can make a desperate man feel better and more confident about his issues. While inspiring motivational music goes a long way, people will still appreciate unconditional support from a living person.
5. Married Life by Michael Giacchino
This is probably one of my favourite instrumentals, as I’ve mentioned in my first Wednesday entry, aside from Rey za Burrel’s Piano from Gundam Seed. Married Life is the theme instrumental from UP, and it was used to portray a variety of scenes. The faster upbeat version of the tune represented the pleasant experiences of married life, and it turned slower and more depressing as we reached the end of the old couple’s marriage. And in one lyric-less piece of music, we face the most complex phase of our lives, the journey of marriage, or as the movie calls it, the “adventure”.
Lesson: communication can exist without language.
Even among people who don’t share a common language, they can still communicate, whether through body gestures, facial expressions, or even just a pat on the shoulder. In the absence of language, the tiniest actions take on a loaded meaning. So even if you have nothing to say, don’t hesitate from expressing yourself through any other means deemed appropriate.