Beautiful, Strange & (a little) Existential...
So, last week, the piece I chose for Tuesday's Cheery-Chune, was a well known pop ballad from 2002. It was a song to remind us all that there's something beautiful to be found in everyone. This week is a little different in more ways than one. For starters, we've come from the world of pop into the world of Indy music. Completely by coincidence, we're in the same year of release, 2002.
This week's pick is DO YOU REALIZE? from U.S. Indie rock veterans, The Flaming Lips. The song is from their album, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. This has been argued by some to be a Concept Album (in that 70's tradition) though the band's lead man, Wayne Coyne, contends that it is not.
While taking on board Wayne's right to declare whether his work is or is not a 'Concept Album', the narrative thread of a brave little Japanese girl who is charged with saving Us All from a horde of creepy, invading pink robots certainly sounds a little 'concepty' to me. It's a bit sci-fi, a bit Manga, and certainly a little feminist.
So why choose DO YOU REALIZE? for a weekly music blog on a counsellor's website?
I'll outline at least 3 reasons that make it interesting to a therapist. But first, the song:
DO YOU REALIZE?....
Well, there you go. Strange, huh? Plushies, twin Frank (the giant rabbit) from Donnie Darko (another blog!), and elephants playing dead. What more could you want? Maybe not the four girls in gratuitously skimpy nighties.
So here are the reasons:
1. LYRICS THAT BOOST YOUR SELF -ESTEEM
Continuing the theme of self-esteem boosting lyrical content, there is the central question of the song, "Do You Realize - that you have the most beautiful face?" With the rising lead vocals and climbing backing vocals, the question feels laden with generosity of spirit and love, and we can imagine, if we choose, that it is addressed to Us. To get the positive impact of this Cheery-Chune, I urge you to listen to it in that way!
Maybe, the song is addressing Yoshimi. We'll never know. The album art (pictured) shows brave little Yoshimi, back to us, standing up to one of the evil Pink Robots. We don't see her face. The song, if imagined addressed to Yoshimi, suggests that it is beautiful, but maybe Yoshimi is too focused and humble to realize this herself - surely the most attractive form of beauty.
2. IMBUED WITH CONCEPTS FROM EXISTENTIAL PSYCHOLOGY
Elder statesman of the Existential school of psychology, prolific author, Irvin Yalom, outlined the four existential givens from which none of us can escape, thus - Death, Freedom, Isolation and Meaninglessness (elaboration upon these is the topic for another blog - or book!). Suffice to say, lyrically, the band very much had these concepts in mind in the composition of the lyrics of the song. For example:
Do You Realize - that everyone you know someday will die And instead of saying all of your goodbyes - let them know You realize that life goes fast It's hard to make the good things last You realize the sun doesn't go down It's just an illusion caused by the world spinning round
The singer is rather adopting the stance of the Existential therapist. The first line quoted is a clear reference to the given of Death. Yalom insists that the Existential approach to therapy is not a modality, but rather, a group of unavoidable concerns that must inevitably come up in all therapy, be it delivered as CBT, Gestalt, Psychodynamic or a combination. The remaining lines provide something of a roadmap to help us cope with the given of Death, and the final two lines have the flavour of Meaninglessness and Isolation. Are you still with me?
3. UPBEAT, POSITIVE MESSAGES FOR YOUNG WOMEN - YOU CAN DO ANYTHING!..
I've already said it, the world is under threat from these evil, flesh-eating Pink Robot aliens, and who is out there at the vanguard keeping us all safe? A little girl called Yoshimi. YOU GO GIRL!
O-ho, we've headed into another DOUBLE-HEADER... Go Yoshimi! Take those vitamins! Here she is to finish on an upbeat note: Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Part 1...(The Flaming Lips)
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Credit for quoted Lyrics, Art Work and generally inspiring creativity goes to The Flaming Lips.