Last week I started thinking about the terrible life advice we sometimes get from popular songs.
For example, "Smile", that gorgeous tune by Charlie Chaplin, tells us to "hide every trace of sadness". While wallowing is unhealthy and while I fully embrace deliberate optimism, it's a huge mistake to bury our feelings. We do have trouble, as a society, managing difficult emotions, and this song pretty much sums it up. (I still think it's beautiful, though.)
One song that my kids sometimes listen to because it's in our collection of oldies: "If You Wanna Be Happy" by Jimmy Soul. The chorus goes like this:
If you wanna be happy for the rest of your life
Never make a pretty woman your wife
So from my personal point of view
Get an ugly girl to marry you
Oh golly, I don't even need to get into everything that's wrong with these lyrics, do I? (But the song is so catchy!)
In our vocal duo, Daniel Janke and I several Beatles songs. One with profound lyrics I love to sing is "Things We Said Today" (which Paul McCartney wrote when he was only 22!) but we also do a mashup of "You Never Give Me Your Money" with "Carry That Weight", which has rather enigmatic lyrics. I was singing them again last week when it occurred to me that telling someone "You gotta carry that weight a long time" is a terrible idea, especially as I had just been talking to my girls about the Zen story sometimes known as "Two Monks and a Woman". (It is beautifully told and illustrated here from in the children's book Zen Shorts.)
I know there are lots of other examples, which I suppose reflects just how messy life and love are. Our songs tell the stories of our imperfections. Do you have a favourite song that gives terrible advice?