Monday, December 15, 2008

The Lyrics . . .

So, this is actually a response to Wade's comment in my "question of the day" post, but I thought the response was a bit bigger than is appropriate for the comments section. To catch you up, Wade registered a concern with the lyrics of the song. I actually learned them as I was learning the song on guitar. I think they're interesting and borderline profound, but rather depressing. Here they are:

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Lyrics to "Human" by The Killers (stupid band name, if you ask me)

I did my best to notice
When the call came down the line
Up to the platform of surrender
I was brought but I was kind
And sometimes get nervous
When I see an open door
Close your eyes
Clear your heart

Cut the cord
Are we Human?
Or are we Dancer?
My sign is vital
My hands are cold
And I'm on my knees
Looking for the answer
Are we Human?
Or are we Dancer?

Pay my respects to grace and virtue
Send my condolences to good
Give my regards to soul and romance
They always did the best they could
And so long to devotion
You taught me everything I know
Wave goodbye
Wish me well

You got to let me go
Are we Human?
Or are we Dancer?
My sign is vital
My hands are cold
And I'm on my knees
Looking for the answers
Are we Human?
Or are we Dancer?

Will your system be alright
When you dream of home tonight?
There is no message we're receiving
Let me know is your heart still beating?

Are we Human?
Or are we Dancer?
My sign is vital
My hands are cold
And I'm on my knees
Looking for the answer

You got to let me know
Are we Human?
Or are we Dancer?
My sign is vital
My hands are cold
And I'm on my knees
Looking for the answer
Are we Human
Or are we Dancer?

Are we Human?
Or are we Dancer?

Are we Human
Or are we Dancer?

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So here's my take on why this is somewhat profound:

I think the song eloquently addresses the dichotomy of spirit (dancer) vs. instinct (human) that is mankind. There is a part within each of us that desires to exist beyond the simple necessities of life to nobleness and higher meaning (as represented by the author's reference to ART or "dancer"). Yet there is another part within us all that simply exists in baseness--willing to simply "be" (or be acted upon), rather than worry about "becoming" (or to act). This side of us is represented by the author's reference to a mere species in the animal kingdom or "Human" (Note: the author's lack of pluralizing the word "Human" makes it a classification of category, (i.e. species) rather than the description of any of the noble attributes we typically associate with humankind that asking "Are we humanS?" might offer.

The question might be re-articulated from a religious perspective as "Are we natural men [enemies to God] or are we Saints [meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to the will of God, etc.]?" (Mosiah 3:19) In fact, I believe this is what the author IS asking in a very succinct format (Human or Dancer). I think it's even from a religious perspective that the author is approaching the question, as evidenced by the repeated phrase: "I'm on my knees looking for an answer". There really aren't too many settings--other than those within a religious framework--where seeking an answer brings a soul to his knees.

The depressing part of the song is that the author seems to be making the choice to be Human (or NOT noble) throughout the course of the song. Either that, or the song is actually the author's farewell to his belief in the virtues that make up the realm of "dancer" (or nobleness) because he has already made the decision. Either way, it's depressing because it's an articulation of a lack of faith in the Good (and in God, for that matter). To me, there's not a much more depressing thought than that an entire nation would lose their faith in the Good. When men exist with nothing more than a Korihorian belief that what one merits in this life and the worth of life in general is solely based on the efforts of the flesh--having nothing to do with nobler virtues or higher purposes--it is then that, in the words of James Madison, "Tyranny Rules".

Indeed, a depressing thought.

The silver lining of the song is this: The author opens the question for people to consider. He asks if we're going to be OK, even though he feels like he can't get a revelation on whether or not he's human. At least, that's what I made of these lines:

Will your system be alright
When you dream of home tonight?
There is no message we're receiving
Let me know is your heart still beating?

Here's the positive part. Yes, my system's just fine, and I think most people's will be, because most who will consider the human or dancer question as deeply as the author--even to the point of looking for the answer on their knees--will actually FIND an answer, and for most that answer will include the spark of divinity that is within each of us. In fact, I think the author inadvertently challenges the listener to do just that: to pray to know about the nature of the soul. While the author of the song articulates a belief that we can't get an answer, I have found the opposite to be true. Namely, that an honest contemplation of the virtues associated to the Good will lead the sincere in heart to an understanding of the true essence of their character and purpose in life--which is divine (and virtue-based) in nature. Even from a strictly secular standpoint, virtue and the Good make mankind beautiful. What would the world be without the dancer in each of us?

. . .

Anyway, enough pontificating for tonight. Thanks for the food for thought there, Killers. That is such a stupid band name!

2 comments:

Blaineusa said...

Something I noticed when I was in high school: whenever I got really tired, people would say, "you think too much." a lot more often.

I think I was tired when I wrote this.

Wade Hone said...

Wow! that was a fun read through, I would be very interested to know if the author indeed had some deep philosophical meanings behind the words that he penned.

when I read what you wrote, it makes me think that perhaps I should re-evaluate my first impression that this song was tossed together amidst a purple haze... (if you catch my drift...)

Whether or not it was written in a drug induced stooper or not, is un-important, the writings from you that it inspired, were worth the radio play - I like thinking about the duality of man and our efforts, or lack thereof, to over come the natural and seek the eternal. thanks for setting my mind on that subject for a while. It needed a refresher!

Wade -out.