Songs of the young, and songs not of the young
I recently attended a high school choral concert. Normally such concerts consist of classical and/or popular tunes that many of us have heard before. At this particular concert, however, one of the songs was an original composition, performed as a vocal/piano solo by the student who wrote it.
The song was beautiful, honest, and touching.
It was also very obviously written by a teenager. The sentiments expressed in the song included idealistic absolutes that one would usually expect a teenager to say. However, as I mentioned, the song was honest, and I certainly commend it.
Some songwriters try to write songs that express the feelings of younger people, and some of those efforts are less than successful.
My favorite example of this is a song by the electronic band Client entitled “Diary of an 18 Year Old Boy,” or, as I put it, “Diary of a 30 Year Old Woman Pretending to be an 18 Year Old Boy.” I happen to love the song, both in the electronic version on the Client album, and on a more acoustic version that I heard once. But the lyrics themselves are the funniest thing this side of the Pet Shop Boys.
I’ll confine myself to two hints that this song was not written by an 18 year old boy. The first one is right in the title – no 18 year old male, in Great Britain or anywhere else, would refer to himself as a “boy.” The second hint can be excerpted from the lyrics – I cannot think of any 18 year old man who, even in his secret diary, would write the words “Make me tremble.” Sounds like a 30 year old woman there.
Some songwriters, of course, are very capable of capturing the moods of the young. Perhaps you’ve heard of a singer named Justin Bieber. (If you use Klout to keep track of yourself, then you want to BE Justin Bieber.) One of his recent hits is a song called “As Long As You Love Me.” It appears that Bieber himself wrote the non-rap lyrics in the song, but whoever wrote the lyrics deftly captured the idealism and devotion that someone who was Bieber’s age would exhibit. Here’s an excerpt:
As long as you love me
We could be starving, we could be homeless, we could be broke
As long as you love me
These are the same types of absolute, idealistic emotions that were expressed in the original song that I heard at the choral concert.
And idealism, at times, can be a good thing.