Pop songs with truth: index page and introduction
Start with this explanation page for my “pop songs of truth and love” posts.
It also indexes all these posts.
A tiny fraction of pop songs are different. Sinead O’Connor’s song Thank you for hearing me has this beautiful line:
Thank you for silence with me
Few popular musicians sing about love as communion in silence. And again another beautiful line:
Thank you for breaking my heart
Few popular songs are grateful for the breakup! So this song is special. Some lines hold a some kind of grown-up wisdom or depth of being. This is rare in pop culture. I call these “pop songs of truth and love.” This series of posts is about such songs. Many other so-called inspirational songs – John Lennon’s Imagine, for example – I find shallow or false.
What is “A pop song with truth”?
Most popular songs express a relationship emotion in a way that’s colourful, touching, or makes you want to dance. In a few songs, there’s maybe just a single line where:
- the singer has learned something about himself or herself. It’s not just longing for the other.
- there’s a grown-up truth or experience about life or being, which feels like the singer’s actual experience.
- the song has realness, it’s not wish-fulfilment or denial
Ideally a mainstream song, not a band such as Miten or Bliss (great bands, but too easy). And audibly the singer’s own experience. Could be about life in general, not only relationships.
The bit about “not wish-fulfilment” means this. Plenty of songs talk up a happy mood, but there’s no truth of experience to make it real. For example, Delta Rae: Dance in the Graveyards sounds at first like a wise, joyful song:
When I die
I don’t want to rest in peace
I want to dance in joy
I want to dance in the graveyards, the graveyards
And while I’m alive
I don’t want to be alone
Mourning the ones who came before
I want to dance with them some more
Let’s dance in the graveyards
But if you read the full lyrics, it’s not wise and joyful. It’s a kind of denial of death and separation. It’s lovely music, but sadly it’s not a song of truth and love.
On the other hand, Oysterband Northern Light (Youtube) I count as a hit. These lines are almost the definition of meditation:
Fear and beauty shake my heart
Memories pursue me
Not to let them break my heart
I let the wave roll through me
and they’re obviously the singer’s hard-won personal experience. The ultimate meditation song is of course the Beatles’ Let it be, sung here, best cover EVER, by Alicia Keys and John Legend. That ticks every box in my definition. Louis Armstrong’s Wonderful World, though written for him not by him, counts because it’s so obviously how he meets life.
But John Lennon’s Imagine (lyrics) doesn’t ring my bell. It’s a beautiful heartfelt song and it’s beautiful dream, one we all share. But I don’t get any sense of learning from experience, or any truth that makes the dream more real. Michael Jackson’s “Heal the world” (printed lyrics) [link to Song] is the same but much worse – denial, wish fulfilment, empty dreaming. No lived experience to make anything real.
And please don’t get me wrong. Miten’s music, for example, is wonderful. Each and every song, a song of truth and love. It’s just fun to search for these rare things in pop culture.
Conventional inspirational songs
Beyond this there are all sorts of uplifting and inspirational songs. Bon Jovi’s It’s my life and Lady Gaga’s Born this way are great tracks full of power and life and joy. To me they lack … maturity? a sense of hard-won personal learning? deeper truth? the female? I like them, but something keeps them off the main play list.
- Adele’s River Lea: Finding love, but not letting love in
- That’s meditation?! – La Roux, In For The Kill
- “You Colour Me” by Pocket Universe – deepen your relationship via pop songs
- “Love, look at the two of us” – deepen your relationship via pop songs
- “Your true colours are beautiful” – deepen your relationship via pop songs
- “Thank you for hearing me” – deepen your relationship via pop songs
- Following your inner voice: Peter Gabriel’s Solsbury Hill