Last night, after church, my kids and I were riding through the city. I had discovered a new song by an artist that my kids love, so I put it on, so they could hear it. When the beat drops, my youngest son immediately goes into the familiar cadence of “hey … hey … hey”, found in a lot of today’s music, with his hands waving the air, then dropped into a full “milly rock”. He was feeling it, just like I thought he would.
My daughter, on the other hand, was just sitting there, listening intently. She had a look on her face that was clearly trying to find a feeling. My son looked over at her and asked, “Don’t you like it? IT GOES HARD!”
He asked the same question more than once, never breaking his rhythm, but she never answered. She just listened. Three minutes and some change pass by and the song is over. Baby boy is singing the hook and yelling at the top of his lungs, “PLAY IT AGAIN, THAT GOES SO HARD!!!!” Again, he really enjoyed the song, like I knew he would. However, my daughter surprised me with a very simple question: “What does that mean?”
I wasn’t sure what SHE meant, so I asked her to repeat herself. So rephrasing, she asked again, “What is this song about?”
In that moment, I couldn’t be more proud.
The basis of her question is that she can’t feel the music by the bass line, or the beat; she has to feel it by its meaning. I was, admittedly, shocked at her question, but I answered her, explaining his interpretation of the words, and the heart of the meaning. She said, “COOL”, and began dancing in her seat, with her brother.
At the risk of sounding like and old man, kids today rarely feel music at that level. It began in my generation, or maybe one generation before, where music became more about commerce than art. Today, the idea of selling a beat is even more prevalent, now that it is easier to make songs, and to distribute them to a wide market. Basically, if you can afford the cookie cutter beat, and a mic, you can mumble any bit of gibberish over it, and become a star! The creativity, thought, and expression that went into creating the songs touch our souls, have been traded for the thump, bump, and jingle of the songs that make us move our feet; making music a product and not an art form.
This generation has been conditioned to be emotionally detached; by focusing on being superficially stimulated. People don’t get to know each other past the highlight reels we put up on social media; so expressing deep emotions beyond being happy and feeling good have become alien. This maybe why, regardless of your opinion of it, “LEMONADE” is such an important piece, because the Queen Bey has created something that got us thinking, and feeling more.
So, shout out to all those who want to hear the troubadour strum our pain with his fingers. Mad love to those who need to hear singers who sing our lives with their words. You, like me, and like my daughter need these connections, through music that ironically breathes life into us, despite it’s ability to kill us softly. Otherwise, there will eventually be a generation who really won’t feel anything; because they will be emotionally dead.
© 2016 Derek J. Murphy Enterprises, and I AM KINGDOM Publishing, All Rights Reserved.
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This version of “Killing Me Softly”, written by Charles Fox and Norman Gimbel, was produced by and performed by The Fugees. Released 1996.