_emma_ wrote:....I'm inclined to think that the artist himself is the only person who has the right to do it
I always loathed deconstructing poetry in class.
Because I've been writing it myself for many years, and of course reading it for even longer, I'm well aware of the processes, and the purposes.
In my opinion, it's both presumptuous and pointless to try to determine what an artist (of any stripe) 'means'. The only thing that rates discussion is what they are attempting to do
: what response they want to elicit, what emotions they are trying to evoke. That is certainly the point of true
poetry, even if (possibly even especially
if) it's based on personal experiences. It's an amusing exercise to attempt to determine what might have inspired particular references, but in the end it doesn't get you any closer to what they wanted to say.
You just managed to say what I've been trying to tell people for years - what the lyricist is attempting to do, what they are trying to evoke, not what exactly they are trying to say.
I've never been able to describe the lyrics, put it into words but that's just it - I've always thought his lyrics were more evocative than explanatory, and in that sense it is pure poetry, certainly more so than most other rock lyrics out there. I think the music complements the lyrics perfectly as well, they definitely go hand in hand for me.
Von himself has always contended that his lyrics are 'oblique' rather than obscure, with which I tend to agree - and I suspect that obliquity is to some degree what drives people to try to determine exactly what he 'means'. The problem is that what they end up doing is trying to reduce it to facts: 'oh, he's referring to this here, and to that there.' That completely overlooks the possibility (probability?) that his meaning is not necessarily inherent in their prosaic reduction. If all he wanted to do was convey information, it could be accomplished in a much more straightforward manner, the way most lyricists choose to work. Actual poetry, on the other hand, often has different ends. And we all know that he's inspired by writers who are anything but prosaic.
I have a fun time trying to figure out, and reading other people's opinions on exactly what he is referring to in lyrics, but then I find it interesting how different people can interpret words in wildly different ways. When it comes to that sort of thing I'm much more interested in the "definite" references though, things like "one nine one four," the Eliot references, the "sand stretched far away" lyric borrowed from Shelley, etc. (of course you already said that, "It's an amusing exercise to attempt to determine what might have inspired particular references") I have my own ideas as to the actual meaning
of certain lyrics but in no way do I think my interpretation is the absolute and definite answer, I agree with Emma that "the artist himself is the only person who has the right to do it" But that doesn't mean I can stop my own ideas from forming in my head, particularly when I've heard these songs so much that the music and lyrics are ingrained in my memory so thoroughly.
I have a hard time putting into words what certain songs mean
to me, or even exactly what emotion or mood they evoke - maybe because for me, it's already in words, in the lyrics and music, far better than I could ever dream of expressing myself. This is just one reason why TSOM feel special to me, I've never heard anything else that moves me and makes me feel what this music does for me, and had so many different emotions and feelings expressed (or maybe more accurately, interpreted on my part) by one band/man, over the course of their entire career. The feeling I get from Vision Thing is completely different from that I get from Floodland, or The Reptile House EP, or the new material, etc. In that sense the lyrics are much more "real" for lack of a better word (or maybe there is one and I just can't think of it
) in that they're not one dimensional, they approach the human experience, life, etc from many different angles and emotions. Which is why there is almost always
a Sisters song I can play at just about any time that fits my mood.
...with the wind in our face and our arms open wide...