Monday, January 31, 2005

Anguished music

Now this is interesting. Gene Edward Veith of World magazine quotes from Mary Eberstadt's book Home-Alone America that today's rock n' roll and hip-hop music are not just about negativity and promiscuity. Ms Eberstadt's study of such music reveals lyrics about abandonment, lament about broken homes and families, and especially absent fathers:
Papa Roach sings "Broken Home," with the lines: "I know my mother loves me / But does my father even care." Everclear sings "Father of Mine" about a father walking out on the family, with the plea "take me back to the day / when I was still your golden boy." And in Everclear's "Wonderful," which some call the best rock song about divorce ever written, the singer yearns for the way things were before his parents split: "I want the things that I had before / Like a Star Wars poster on my bedroom door." Blink-182 had a hit with "Stay Together for the Kids," which recognizes that there is no easy solution: "What stupid poem could fix this home," but then adds, "I'd read it every day." In Pink's "Family Portrait," the singer pleads with her father not to leave, making poignantly childish promises: "I won't spill the milk at dinner."

Kurt Cobain, a pioneer of such confessional music, said that he had a happy childhood until his parents got a divorce when he was 7, an experience that he wrote about again and again in his music. Ms. Eberhardt finds the same subject matter in songs by Good Charlotte, Pearl Jam, Linkin Park, Slipknot, Disturbed, and Korn.

Many rappers never even knew their fathers, and this fact, according to Ms. Eberstadt, is lamented in the lyrics of nearly every hip-hop artist. One of the most violent, the late Tupac Shakur, raps in "Papa'z Song Lyrics," about how he "had to play catch by myself," and prays, "Please send me a pops before puberty." Snoop Dogg in "Mama Raised Me" says, "It's probably pop's fault how I ended up / Gangbangin'; crack slangin'; not givin' a f—." And as for Eminem, perhaps the most foul-mouthed, angry, bitter—and popular—rapper of them all, Ms. Eberhardt shows that rage at his mother and father for abandoning him is the emotional center of virtually all of his songs.

4 comments:

Harry said...

I admit that this particular sort of music has never impressed me much, but the theme you mention rings true.

David BC Tan said...

not my kind of music too...

discordant_dude said...

The increasing rate of broken homes is perhaps why youths can relate to the angst of such songs. A dosage of linkin park is good medicine sometimes. :)

David BC Tan said...

i'm sure you're right. my own preference is jazz but come to think of it, i do have some acquaintance with pearl jam and linkin park.