How the Songs of Today Compare with the Songs of Yesterday

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  • Topic: The Doors, Lyrics, Instrumental
  • Pages : 6 (1899 words )
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  • Published : April 28, 2011
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3/24/11
Psych 208 #2

Tuning in a radio can be a very diverse experience. All sorts of kinds of sounds come blaring from the speakers, some familiar, others not, depending on the listener. It is easy to distinguish the sounds of different generations, just as it is easy to distinguish their styles. On the surface, the popular songs of today sound very different from those that dominated the charts half a century ago. Legendary guitar rifts and pioneering vocals of artists such as Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, and John Lennon have been replaced by electronic sounds, heavier beats, and faster lyrics. Yet, have the underlying themes of music changed along with their sounds? Is the disfavor with which older generations look down upon contemporary music truly justified? The underlying themes of music have changed to an extent, but the change in theme itself isn’t the most startling way in which music has changed. The music of today is startling to older generations in that there has been a dramatic reduction in attempts by artists to mask themes that are risqué in nature. While countless risqué themes have and continue to exist within the volume of music teens consume, a main one and the one I will be focusing on for the sake of this argument is that of sex. Many people would argue that today’s generation is consumed by sex, and many people blame society for this phenomenon. Indeed, this phenomenon can indeed be attributed to the higher degree of openness that formerly risqué matters (such as sex) are given in our culture and in our music. Two examples of songs with similar themes that are portrayed in different degrees of subtly are The Doors’ “Light My Fire” and Rihanna’s “S&M.” The Doors’ “Light My Fire” was a popular song in the 1960s. It was released in 1967, and spent 3 weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100. Below are the lyrics:

You know that it would be untrue
You know that I would be a liar
If I was to say to you
Girl, we couldn't get much higher

Come on baby, light my fire
Come on baby, light my fire
Try to set the night on fire

The time to hesitate is through
No time to wallow in the mire
Try now we can only lose
And our love become a funeral pyre

Come on baby, light my fire
Come on baby, light my fire
Try to set the night on fire, yeah

The time to hesitate is through
No time to wallow in the mire
Try now we can only lose
And our love become a funeral pyre

Come on baby, light my fire
Come on baby, light my fire
Try to set the night on fire, yeah

You know that it would be untrue
You know that I would be a liar
If I was to say to you
Girl, we couldn't get much higher

Come on baby, light my fire
Come on baby, light my fire
Try to set the night on fire
Try to set the night on fire
Try to set the night on fire
Try to set the night on fire

It is clear to an adult what the song is about: sex. However, there still exists debate over what exactly the song is about in regards to sex. Is it just about sex, or does it go deeper? Does the fire symbolize the love between two people in a relationship sense, or just physical pleasure? No one knows for sure, although the song is commonly believed by fans of The Doors to have little depth in that most of it was not written by Jim Morrison, who used the most symbolism out of everyone in the group (Jim Morrison wrote the 3rd stanza only, which in turn is the most symbolic). Thus, many factors affect one’s interpretation of the song, including one’s age, one’s level of maturity, and even one’s amount of knowledge concerning the band. Regardless of what intent the song was written under, it is important to note that the theme of sex is presented with a least some measure of ambiguity. Of course a mature listener would understand the song without any hesitation, but a younger, more naive listener would be less unsure of the meaning. They wouldn’t be able to understand the symbolism, and not think much further into it. I myself...
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