Updated: Jan 27
I graduated high school in June 1971 (yes, I’m old). In a hindsight view of my life, I was born on that day; or, just in case my memory of my life is some Vanilla Sky theme that I am creating daily in the imaginations of some coma I have since been in, one could say I ceased living once I graduated from high school. Either way, June 1971 represented a transformation stage for my soul, for this present incarnation.
I had begun to dabble in poetry during my senior year of high school, most crudely I must add. Graduation represented the time that I became (in my mind) a prolific song writer. It did not matter that I had absolutely zero musical talent (can’t sing, can’t dance, can’t play even a tambourine), I was hearing all that talent in my head while I wrote lyrics down on lined notebook paper (by hand).
It wasn’t some plan of mine to start a rock band and make it rich. I just enjoyed writing poems, especially ones that were twisted, humorous, and impossible for anyone else to understand. I was inspired by the John Lennon lyrics of The Beatles, which seemed to me to have no purpose at all. I saw that as the ultimate freedom in writing. Write anything. It will make some sense afterwards.
Besides, I was being called to do it. By that, I mean I would be asleep at night when lyrics and melody would come into my mind, making it difficult to ignore all that “sound and noise.” Once it began, I could not get back to sleep. Then, the voice (you know … that voice that talks to us when no one is around) would say, “Get up. Write this down.” It was so persistent, I would drag my butt out of bed and proceed to smoke up to a pack of Marlboro reds, while putting the words of a new song on paper. When it was done, I could get back to sleep. My work was done.
I wrote songs like that until a couple of years after being married. By then the flow of poetic words had slowed down considerably, and I was not being awakened to write anymore. Because there was no money to be made in the imaginary song writing business, I had to give up on writing songs, to concentrate full-time on working in the real world. Still, because of that youthful period of my life, I have always been strongly attracted to songs that speak to me on a deep level. I really get elevated when I hear songs by artists that vibrate at my rate. Their music gets me spinning, and their lyrics raise me up to the spiritual level.
Admittedly, there are only a handful (relatively speaking) of artists that “ring my bell.” I am hard to please musically. I usually can’t stand the music that the majority of people think is the best “song of the day” they ever heard. For that reason, I cannot stand watching shows like American Idol on television. That type of performance sounds like cats howling while someone is scratching a blackboard with hard chalk. Still, the music that really turns me on is also well liked by the lambs who like anything sold to them musically. So, in that way I am normal.
For instance, the song “Stairway to Heaven” hit the airways (to my ears at least) right after I graduated from high school. I thought that was the most amazing song I had ever heard. I was not the only one, evidently, as the radio station I listed to (that was still the early days of FM radio) announced at the end of the year that it was the best song of 1972, as chosen by non-texting voters. I see on a Wikipedia article about that song that it is listed as number 31 all-time (one record publication), and in the top 100 in another publication. Therefore, I could tell a good song just like the next guy or gal; but in another sense, when one is “born” listening to the best, a high standard has been set for all other songwriters. No Sonny and Cher crap will ever get my toes tapping again.
Over the years, I have been attracted to some musicians who vibrated at my speed (good vibes). Over the years, my vibratory rate has changed a little, so some of the older favorites have been stored away in a “memory chest.” To name a few names that I have admired in the past, see if any of these names remind you of groups you listened to in days past: Spirit, Thunderclap Newman, Frank Zappa, Steve Winwood (in particular his Traffic years, but also his time with the Spencer Davis Group, and the one-shot Blind Faith album he played a role creating), Peter Gabriel (and Genesis, when he was with that band), Kate Bush, Gentle Giant, Pink Floyd, Peter Murphy, Psychedelic Furs, Lamb, Nine Inch Nails, Dead Can Dance, and Lamb. Certainly, there have been others, but these examples show an off-center set of popular artists, with a wide variety of styles.
One group that I did not list is Tears For Fears. That group is synonymous with the main man behind that name, Roland Orzabal. I say this because I have connected to his lyrics and music like I connected to Led Zeppelin in 1972. I place Roland Orzabal-Tears For Fears in a “most favored” position on my “liked music” list. All of the TFF albums have songs that elevate me; but the one album that is wall-to-wall elevation is Elemental (1993). Every song has lyrics that speak to my soul. I want to share with you some of what “gets me high” from that album.
The first song is the title track, “Elemental.” It says (partially),
Did you lose your faith in God, no Does your conscience always get you down Fall to pieces Rough and tumble Does your conscience always get you down
These days it’s all in the mind It’s elemental Don’t say you’re up when you’re down It’s elemental
Put your lovin’ arms around
This your new year’s resolution Put your lovin’ arms around Nothing doing revolution Put your lovin’ arms around
Take another leap in the dark With a humble heart Do yourself some good What did you become Patience Be sure
The next song is “Cold,” and it has the lyrics,
You can’t fight the fear you can’t, this is the road you’re on You don’t belong to me you don’t belong to any one Your reputation lies not in your eyes, but those who dare Will bite the hand that feeds when it don’t meet your needs when you got blood to bleed, you got a life to lead
The third song is “Break It Down Again,” which states in part,
When it’s all mixed up Better break it down In the world of secrets In the world of sound
It’s in the way you’re always hiding from the light See for yourself you have been sitting on a time bomb No revolution maybe someone somewhere else Could show you something new about you and your inner song And all the love and all the love in the world Won’t stop the rain from falling Waste seeping underground I want to break it down
The fourth song is named “Mr. Pessimist.” It says (partially),
Time will swallow Your precious time Like magic create the future What makes man so fickle ? Who put the daggers in those eyes ? Was it to learn Through dark days of struggle ? Was it to burn To burst all our bubbles ? Thunder and rain Well the cynical flame will it heat, stick and blister ? Thunder and rain Evangelistic brother Should be banging a tambourine Go wash your hands and fingers Till your mind is clean Was it your fate To sleep like a normal ? Time and decay No man is immortal Thunder and rain Boredom and pain lit the cynical flame Will it heat stick and blister ? Thunder and rain Still try to resist the pessimist The pessimist no no And these things I find In the back of my mind Where time lasts forever I get all mixed Think I’m all mankind
The fifth song is “Dog’s A Best Friend’s Dog,” which partially says,
Three is a crowd Two is a dog and me playing (What’s he saying) Free as a cloud No one ever really knew you Make clear your illusion no, no, no, no Some dreams you dream you alone You thank Christ you’re coming home
The sixth song is called, “Fish out of Water,” which has astrological implications. It says in part,
You’re dreaming your life away Fish out of water Go swim in the tide today Fish out of water
The seventh song is named “Gas Giants,” which is largely instrumental. Still, it says,
Giants on Armistice Day Caught between the rock and the renegade
The eighth song is “Power,” which is very synonymous with these times we are living. It says, in part,
Power now is all the rage Sons and daughters of the gun Hungry babies come of age Phasers switched and set to stun
Power now, power how, power wow ! Here’s power
If you’re seeking power ………
(it then goes on to sing)
If you take my breath away The whole damn thing will turn and return Redefined, rearranged, rearranged And till my dying the day I guess I’ll have to burn just to learn This the time, this the place To show a human face
The ninth song is then “Brian Wilson Said,” which is modeled after the musical style of the Beach Boys. Some of these lyrics say,
My life Shame to rely, but I swear it’s the best I can do Like a flame, like an i with a dot I am not you Call me guilty I swear I’m a man who can fly ( deep down ) I keep coming back, I’ll get back to you My life, nothing was easy till now
The tenth and final song is entitled “Goodnight Song,” which is a fitting way to end an album. Some of the lyrics sing,
Get some honesty Take the best of me and then the rest let go In every situation with it’s tireless rage Step outside your cage and let the real fool show I should have stayed round to break the ice I thought about it once or twice But nothing ever changes unless there’s some pain
These songs all call out to my soul. They are saying, in a microcosm-macrocosm way, how I feel about the direction the world has taken. In a world filled with so much beauty, human being have made it a place laden with corruption, apathy, and addiction to blindness. These lyrics scream out from within me that the world is headed for the abyss. Even if Roland Orzabal’s idea of the meaning of the words he wrote, a much higher power is his source and from that source comes meaning Roland Orzabal did not realize as he composed those songs.
If you know anything of what I have written, about the meaning of The Prophecies of Nostradamus, or of the meaning of certain passages from the books of the Holy Bible, then perhaps you can sense the meaning being reflected in these lyrics, written by another human being who has no clue who I am. Roland Orzabal is simply connected to the same source to which I was connected, which calls all who listen to a higher understanding. The world hears Roland Orzabal because he does have musical talents (he can sing, dance, and play multiple musical instruments). I wonder … If the world has ears so it can find another idol to worship, does it actually hear the prophet speaking through the glare? I get it. Does anyone else?
(note: all lyrics are copied and pasted from lyric websites, such as lyrics007.com and elyrics.net, with all materials copyrighted by Tears For Fears, their keepers and members.)
R. T. Tippett