Words, Words, Words… The Power And Intention Of Language And Lyrics

Words, words, words… As a writer, I relish words. I strive to always find the right one, the clearest one, the most specific one to define an experience, a thought or an emotion. This is always a battle and sometimes an adjective or an adverb is needed, in order to clarify something even more. Often words need to be strung together in a very specific way, so that we can really communicate and be as clear as possible. This is the challenge and this is the joy.

We struggle with words all the time. How does one best say I love you or I’m sorry? How does one truly utter a heartfelt condolence, in order to comfort and relieve? Simplicity is often best, but sometimes one word or even one sentence is not enough to accurately express what is in the heart and mind and soul.

I once told my daughter that texting and emails were the death of communication. She looked at me with confusion and a bit of disgust, rolled her eyes and just said, “Well, that is how MY generation communicates.”

But how many times do we need to pick up a phone to explain a missed meaning, joke or intonation? It actually doubles the effort and work sometimes.

Words, words, words…

A song can have no words, and yet define everything. That is the intense power of music. But when that melody is matched with lyrics, the right lyrics, its potency can run even deeper.

This week I am being especially hard hit with the new Phish song “The Line”… its chorus so profoundly resonating with where I am in life right now. This song moves me so much and really cuts to the bone, and speaks to the true essence of what is in my overactive, deeply contemplative brain.

You try to see your future from the line.
You’re clinging to the notion you’ll be fine.
But the circle’s getting smaller all the time.”

A sigh… a breath… wow. May you enjoy this song and album as much as I am right now.

Yet, it was another song that actually prompted this post… a song I often return to for a similar message… James Taylor’s “It’s Enough To Be On Your Way.”

So the sun shines on this funeral, just the same as on a birth,
The way it shines on everything that happens here on Earth.
It rolls across the western sky and back into the sea
And spends the day’s last rays upon this fucked-up family, so long old pal.”

In fact, what really spurred me to write this post was a simple comment made by a guy named Tom.  He said: “Never thought I’d hear the f-bomb in a James Taylor song.” Granted he makes no further judgement, and perhaps I am reading into it; and I certainly do not intend to embarrass him, but the reaction struck a chord with me.

It’s a fucking word… a word that makes the most sense at that precise moment in time. It’s language… and while I don’t want my daughter dropping F-bombs left and right, at times a cuss word is the best and only way to really make a point. Screwed-up… Messed-up… certainly more radio friendly, but not the right word. This country all too quickly embraces violence, but rebels against sex and language. The battle over rating the film The King’s Speech, for heaven’s sake, is a sad and perfect example of this. It is puritanical, hypocritical and just odd to me.

For those who know me and read my political writings and thoughts, you will know that I am also a firm believer that words can be dangerous, that they can incite and be used for nefarious and violent purposes. One need only look at the Nazis and sadly at ISIS in today’s news. They use words to enlist, words to drive hate and extreme and brutal violence. And so we must also use words to communicate our disgust and horror, our anger and our resolve. And those words must be put into action.

With me, intention goes a long, long way. Was JT (the original one… not Justin) trying to shock or insult? No. He was being honest and open and using his individual language to express his truth. Can people intend to hurt others and use words to do it? Of course, sometimes. Words can control, words can be powerful and they can absolutely be used to gain power and sway others,  into even the most horrendous actions.

But that is not the case here, and we all need to realize that. The intention behind words is very important and should not be left out of the definition and understanding. Sometimes we honestly mean one thing, but mistakenly say another. They are words… with multiple nuances and meanings. Embrace language, love words, and use them wisely. Be open to intention. This is what bonds us. This is what will help us understand each other. Speak clearly and loudly and openly and embrace whatever language you speak.

Words, words, words…




Filed under Life... Plain and Not So Simple, Marc's Mixed Bag - A Little Of Everything, Marc's Playlist - Music That Moves Me

3 responses to “Words, Words, Words… The Power And Intention Of Language And Lyrics

  1. Patrick O'Connor

    That’s a great Taylor lyric in which the unexpected explictive is used to good effect, in part because it is not what gentle JT is likely to say.

    Your post sparked a search for Words, Words Words a led to the following. So nice to see two actors raised in the separate American and English traditions be so great together on a simple platform of raised boards in front of a engaged audience.

  2. Really enjoyed your Words, Words, Words blog entry. Very insightful and great writing. Will subscribe. 🙂

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