Friday, June 26, 2009

Limits to comprehension

Singer Michael Jackson's untimely death touches the inner life of the generations brought up on his music - including all three of my children. His audio-visual innovation in the presentation of his music transformed the late 20th century pop music scene in the most remarkable way. His creative genius is undoubted.

I'm not sure I ever worked out what he was really wanting to say about life, except that whatever he was staying seemed to be stated in a frantic if not anxious tone, perhaps characteristic of an insecure age.

The reason for my ignorance is that I've always had trouble about memorising, let alone making sense of musical lyrics. Watching TV news reports of crowds singing together Michael Jackson's songs in his memory made me realise how much I failed to connect with the mind-stream of modern pop culture.

Stand alone poetry I can grasp. Music I understand, as well as visual art. But I've always had trouble with pop songs, no matter how poetically conceived. I attribute this to having learned to accompany on guitar in my early teens others singing the lyrics, leading me to pay more attention to doing justice to melody rather than absorbing the meaning of the words.

Quite a handicap really, in striving to engage with contemporary culture.

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