Sometimes, the material I’m editing is less than inspiring. So, I do what any sane citizen does in this globally connected universe: turn on YouTube. Why buy an iPod nano when all the inspiration I need is on YouTube? (If the Internet ever gets taxed, I think I’ll become a useless sack of human complaints, firmly parked on a Senate lawn. And these are some of the songs I’ll play while they decide where to incarcerate the crowds.)
Gin Blossoms: Allison Road
This is the most positive and uplifting of the Gin Blossoms’ songs, which are heavily laced with alcoholism and depression. Why do I bring out these tunes for creative inspiration? Because it reminds me that most of us walk the edge of what we should do, versus what we know we should not, and the consequences of frequently dipping toes over the edge – not to mention falling headlong and getting a crack on the noggin. Love is meant to be grand and uplifting; it’s frequently debilitating, because the other person makes promises and doesn’t follow through, or offers a cracked facsimile of true affection.
Three Doors Down: Kryptonite
There are so many things to love about this video. The depiction of big-city problems, from a streetwalker and her handler, to the crazy white-haired delusional grandfather who wants to be a superhero. He motivates himself to do something noble, like his heroes on TV–and gets beaten for his pains in a grimy alleyway, by those he’s trying to protect. But he doesn’t give up! He hobbles down more twists and turns, and corners the john in a cowboy bar; it’s just necessary to jump down through a glass window to dispense justice. No problem – because that’s just what you have to do! It’s still a win!
The Killers: All These Things That I’ve Done
I love the back-and-forth dance moves, the old-time Western tintype and Ladies of the Southwestern Night look (set against a planned community). Ingenious. The real thinker, though, is ‘When You Were Young‘; it’s reminiscent of Amores Perros, which will teach a person all they need to know about Spanish swear words and captivating interrelated plot lines.
This band’s upswing and comeback are so inspiring; they got popular, then too big for their britches, threw their energies (especially Bono) in a hundred different directions, and got disenchanted with a lot. But they came back – wiser, less crazy, more settled. The cinematography and waving white hangings make me want to visit the East–and I already live in a desert. Just like the feather swept up and around in Forrest Gump, or the bag twisted by the breeze in American Beauty, the white shroud really can cover the earth with mystery and the lure of movement.
Bastille: Things We Lost in the Fire
I’d imagine, with all of the classical references used by the songwriter, that he probably felt an early affinity for Homer and Plato, and maybe Marcus Aurelius. I’ve walked through shadowed neighborhoods, whose very walls and pavement seem to moan: “Beware, all ye who enter here….this is where dreams come to die.” Hollywood and Las Vegas ooze thin black trickles of corruption, and I can only make it three days before I long (like Frodo and Sam) to feel grass under my toes and hear the wind in vast swaths of trees. Despite its overused state, I think that’s the thought-provoking message of Joni Mitchell/Counting Crows’ Big Yellow Taxi. Why not preserve God’s creation if you can? There’s quite enough reminders of man’s opinion of himself.
Goo Goo Dolls: Better Days
This is a more original version than Nickelback’s If Today Was Your Last Day (and unbeatable psychedelic trees), but the essential elements hold true. If we’re constantly engaged in the illusory sprint toward the accumulation of more, without accounting for the final rolls called out on Judgment Day, then our work here on earth is a bunch of wood, hay, straw, and stubble. Don’t put stock in the burnable items, because they are just inviting a stray spark to find a temporary home. Hope of real change may begin here, but it doesn’t end with what we see now.
These are just a few. Sometimes, it’s great to mix and match practicality with art, because it opens up the ‘inner eye’, for lack of a better term. There are certainly more things in heaven and earth than our current world would like to acknowledge, that have a foot on this earth and an eye on the clouds. Prose is sometimes stymied where poetry does not fear to tread.