Sunday, July 8, 2012

Finding Meaning in Song Lyrics

In 2010, I happened to come across a documentary on PBS about a senior citizen singing group called Young@Heart who sang current songs, but in a different way. The movie was very inspiring, and two scenes stood out for me: one was when the group visited a prison and a sang "Forever Young," and the other was when a gentleman sang "Fix You."

The latter song was originally written and performed by Cold Play (a band I like). However, the first time I heard the song it was sung by Fred Knittle and the Young@Heart chorus.


Prior to singing with Young@Heart, Mr. Knittle was a World War II machine-gunner who spent most of his working life as an executive at The Clarke School for the Deaf in Northampton, Massachusetts. 


In the documentary, he needed to use an oxygen tube due to problems from his congestive heart failure. Despite that, he delivered a heartbreaking rendition of "Fix You."

What made the song especially touching was that Mr. Knittle was supposed to sing the song as a duet with his friend Bob Salvini. Mr. Salvini is seen throughout the movie during rehearsals, but died shortly before the concert finale.

When I saw this documentary, it was shortly after my dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease. This song spoke so deeply to me at that point as I - and my entire family - watched Alzheimer's take a firmer grasp on my dad...and we were left helpless as to how to fix the situation.

In reality, we couldn't fix him or the situation. We could only try to comfort and reassure him through this stressful and anxiety-producing journey.

These are the lyrics that I found (and still do) quite meaningful...

When you try your best, but you don't succeed
When you get what you want, but not what you need
When you feel so tired, but you can't sleep
Stuck in reverse

And the tears come streaming down your face
When you lose something you can't replace
When you love someone, but it goes to waste
Could it be worse?

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

And high up above or down below
When you're too in love to let it go
But if you never try you'll never know
Just what you're worth

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

Tears stream down on your face
When you lose something you cannot replace
Tears stream down on your face
And I...

Tears stream down on your face
I promise you I will learn from my mistakes
Tears stream down on your face
And I...

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

If you would like to see the video, it's here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W_n0zvoHlVk

The other song I liked from the Young@Heart documentary was one called "Forever Young" originally written by Bob Dylan. The group sang the song at a prison, and the inmates clearly were affected by the lyrics.

The lyrics are exactly the message I want Sophia and Olivia to hear and carry with them through life:

May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you
May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
And may your song always be sung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

If you would like to see the video of Young@Heart singing at the prison, it's here: http://www.viddler.com/v/ab13efc0

4 comments:

Sara said...

I'm kind of obsessed with "Fix You", no lies. I blast it in the car and sing along as loud as I can! I love the lyrics and the message within the song but I also really just love the melody - I think it's so pretty!

Melissa Say What? said...

Those are both beautiful songs and such a beautiful story you have to share! This is my first time joining in the Summer Blog Challenge and a great time at that. This topic is by far one of the best "writing prompts" I've partaken in.

Shayla Burks said...

I love the lyrics to both songs. And what wonderful things to want for your children.

Julie Jordan Scott said...

What a heartful read. I love the idea of the Young at Heart chorus. What brilliant person thought of that? Lovely!!

I am so grateful I popped over here today from the Summer Blog Challenge.

My Musical Response....