Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Song of the week

I've decided to sometimes (and not necessarily on a weekly basis) do a song of the week. This one is my favorite songs from one of my favorite bands. In a world where modern poetry is usually nothing more than stream-of-thought garbage, a few brave souls, who still know how to rhyme, fight back. This is from Neil Peart, world-class drummer and lyricist of Rush:


Sprawling on the fringes of the city
In geometric order
An insulated border
In between the bright lights
And the far unlit unknown

Growing up it all seems so one-sided
Opinions all provided
The future pre-decided
Detached and subdivided
In the mass production zone

Nowhere is the dreamer
Or the misfit so alone

Subdivisions ---
In the high school halls
In the shopping malls
Conform or be cast out
Subdivisions ---
In the basement bars
In the backs of cars
Be cool or be cast out

Any escape might help to smooth
The unattractive truth
But the suburbs have no charms to soothe
The restless dreams of youth

Drawn like moths we drift into the city
The timeless old attraction
Cruising for the action
Lit up like a firefly
Just to feel the living night

Some will sell their dreams for small desires
Or lose the race to rats
Get caught in ticking traps
And start to dream of somewhere
To relax their restless flight

Somewhere out of a memory
Of lighted streets on quiet nights...

Don't get me wrong. I grew up in a suburb (although not a generic cookie-cutter one, and my backyard was a wetland). But these lyrics bring up some good points. The video for this, if you can find it, is also quite good. Envision a helicopter shot of a regular suburban city--each house exactly the same, and spread out for miles. No individuality. 100% conformity. Minimal creativity. Lacking the excitement of the city and lacking the peace of the country.
For a classic picture very close to where I grew up, click here.
Why do people seek this?


Cougarg said...

I think people want more space than they can get in the city, without giving up the action of the city. At least that's what they wanted when suburbs first started popping up. However, I don't think as much thought as that goes into the decision. in the two or three generations since then, living in the 'burbs is now an expectation. It's the only life that many people our age and our parents age have known. People are creatures of habit for the most part. I think that only very rarely does a generation seek for something truly different. When that difference is achieved, the next generation adopts that as the norm. Other than that, societal change is a gradual process. Most of the time, people will accept minor change, as long as there are not many hiccups along the way.

JorgenMan said...

Subdivisions is an excellent song to start out with. To me, it emphasizes the tendency for suburbanites to drift into mediocrity. When you work a nine-to-five job, it's easy to come home, turn on the TV, watch some funny YouTube videos, and there goes the rest of the night. When turning on the TV or surfing the internet becomes a habit, weeks, months, and even years go by with little to show for them. I think that subdivisions may encourage this behavior, since there's no city to see, no wilderness to explore.

Subdivisions reminds me of the importance of living life to the fullest, in the sense that we need to try new things and set and achieve goals. I've thought a lot about Elder Oaks's comments in conference addresses over the past couple of years regarding wasting time surfing the internet. At first, I didn't understand what the big deal was - there are plenty of websites that don't have any objectionable material at all. Then I heard his talk at conference a year ago, entitled "Good, Better, Best." As he says, "We have to forego some good things in order to choose others that are better or best."

Elder Oaks was actually speaking about eschewing worldly things in order to spend more time serving Christ and strengthening our families, but even in a purely secular realm, I think a similar point can be made. I've definitely burned my share of time surfing the internet and whatnot, but much of that time could have been used doing things that would have been more rewarding - exercising, writing in a journal, doing something creative, working in the yard, learning to play a musical instrument, visiting friends, and so on. These are all things that would make my life better, and I'm now a lot more aware of how I spend my time, and what is worth my time.

Tim said...

Thanks for the comments.
I need to spend less time surfing the web. We don't watch TV, but maybe I could cut down on movies/DVDs too.
I see the song as fighting conformity. Our ward right now is very diverse. Poor, rich, Filipino, white, black, etc. etc. Our last ward was very boring--everyone trying to be just like everyone else. Their houses were all the same and so were their personalities. The few of us in the apartments were the outcasts.
So--be yourself. Be different. Even if you do live in a boring suburb. Life's more interesting that way.

JorgenMan said...

I think that, especially as a teenager, there's a strong desire to fit in and do things the way everyone else does them. As I grow older, I realize that there are many ways to be happy, and many good but different ways to live your life. It's good to take step back once in a while and ask yourself, "Is my lifestyle making me happy? Why do I do the things I do? Is there anything I do out of habit, or because that's how everyone else does it? Could some of those benefit from a change?"

caron said...

When I moved to the burbs of sj, it was a total adventure. We did all sorts of country bumpkin things. it got boring after all the people moved in. Just for the record :).