Monday, September 21, 2009

Wisdom, Beyond Their Years

Some songs (and performers) transcend others to live eternally in a place of wondrous depth, capturing the essence of the human experience in such a way that one might expect the lyrics to have been conceived by someone decades older. But youth, in some instances, holds greater wisdom.

"Dream On" was released by Aerosmith when Steven Tyler was 25 years old. So he presumably wrote the song, as they are his lyrics, before the 25th year of his life. In it, he sounds weathered. His voice carries immense weight and pathos and the lyrics could belong to a man nearing the end of his journey. This was the first hit for a band that would perform for decades, and many of their lyrics would get progressively lighter. "Dream On" never ceases to impress. It's epic and flawless in its wisdom.
"Both Sides Now" was released in 1968, shortly after Joni Mitchell wrote it. She, too, was 25 years old. She explains at first, by using the image of clouds, that she has seen clouds from both sides, now. From below, she has seen them looking puffy and attractive, only to find they can also grow sinister and rain on her parade. Later they might be seen from above, as she'll fly over the clouds in a plane. She ends the beautiful tune with having seen life from both sides now, finding out that, "I really don't know life at all." And nothing holds more wisdom than that sentiment.

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