One of the things I’m most grateful for is that there was never a theological or philosophical dogma within my family growing up. My family down south were all more or less Catholic, but I wasn’t particularly expected to be, which is handy. I ask way too many questions. The rest of my family seemed more or less unconcerned with religion as a topic in general.
Unfortunately, it meant that I had to decide for myself over the years what philosophical stances I wanted to internalize, which ones I wanted to at least figure out enough to know, and which ones to eschew completely. And that is, to be honest, a lot of work. One of the reasons that theology is taught so early is that a lot of ideologies require either faith through conditioning or loyalty through fear.
Lacking more grandiose external forces to mold my philosophies, I began to search. And I found things in the oddest places. There is a sourcebook for a table-top roleplaying game called Legend of the Five Rings. I had some of the core books and one of the secondary source books: The Way of the Dragon. Without going into too much detail and derailing any further, the margins of the book were filled with slightly adapted Confucian and Taoist anecdotes and platitudes, many of which spoke to me philosophically in ways that religious subject matter never had. I have always felt a greater connection to the more Eastern philosophies of enlightenment and transcendence as opposed to the salvation and guilt so frequently employed in Western forms. I spent some time poking at certain Celto-Pagan forms of Wicca and/or folk magics, and have since expanded my studies into shamanism and a couple of branches of Buddhism. I’ve read The Art of War a few times because the inherit philosophies are universally applicable, and I’ve read through parts of Three Kingdoms. If you don’t know what these things are, come see me after class and we can discuss.
But the broadest and richest source of my philosophical configuration comes from music. If you’ve ever listened to a song and just identified with it on a spiritual level: imagine feeling that way about splinters of dozens, if not hundreds, of songs. I’ve toyed with the idea of trying to put together a cloud of the lyrics that could express who or what I am…but at every consideration I am faced with just how long it would take to synthesize that much data.
At one time anyway. 🙂
I have never let “there’s too much to say for the time allowed” stop me ever. No reason to start now. Just need to present the information in a different format. So welcome to Lyrical Philosophy. Today we’re going to cover one song because this could get lengthy.
Today’s song is from Rehab. Some Georgia boys who met in, you guessed it: drug rehabilitation, back in the day formed a rap group. I was first exposed to them on some internet radio station I couldn’t even begin to remember because this was 2001, my senior year of high school. The album Southern Discomfort was the first Rehab album I bought, and to this day I’ve seen Rehab in concert more than any other single musical group. The original members split up and one of them put together a different band with the same name which has slowly worked its way towards a slightly more country or at least rock feel, but across four or five albums there are easily a dozen songs I could quote at you. And at some point I probably will. But for today I want to focus on the first song that really matters in what we’re talking about. It’s called Scarecrow. The whole song is pretty much key, but Verse 2 is the one that matters most.
And I’ve seen thirty years of downtime,
The face of a clown a stick for a spine
From my grandiose small town mind
And crows fly all around mine
They shit on my shoulder
I got no voice, no mobility
I get older, heated but colder
No yield in my field and fuck my opinion
I stare at your houses in the distance, silent persistence
At night your windows glisten
I got nothing to say cuz no one would listen anyway
So I remain against the grain
I’ve seen sunny days with rain
Busted knuckles and pain
And never complained
Dirt is my domain.
My view is plain but I’m invisible
Sounds mystical not really
The days are the dry the evenings chilly
The only person that understands
Is little Billy when he’s lonely.
Make me worth a damn
Make me move again
Make me a fucking man.
I’ve seen the rise and fall the come and go
The high and low and if you knew what I know
Sometimes one does NOT reap what he sows
The wind blows the moon glows
The water flows the rain turns to snow
When the ground is frozen only God knows
That’s the way it goes.
Yes. This is the same band that released Sittin’ At a Bar. Rehab is the band I often turn to when I need to vent and identify pain, or to come to terms with my depression, or for any of a number of reasons. Lyrically they’re smart and witty and the things they’re saying come from the depths of human experience. I recommend pretty much everything at least once.