Repeat. (lai la lai)
So, yesterday on my drive home, I decided I was not in the mood for the radio, and I put my Ipod on. The song that had been on the radio had reminded me of “Welcome to the Black Parade” by My Chemical Romance. That is the only My Chemical Romance song I really know and definitely the only one I own. Most of why I love it so much is it reminds me of “Come Sail Away” by Styx. After all, they both start off slowly, with piano, and then get faster after the intro. “carry on” is a phrase used prominently in both songs. I don’t know if Styx is one of MCR’s role models, or if they like the song, or if it’s all a coincidence, but I do know that both songs garner an emotional response.
Anyway, after playing “Welcome to the Black Parade,” I scrolled through my artists to decide on what to listen to next. I didn’t have to go far. Mumford and Sons. Perfect. I started them off on random, but decided I wanted to listen to their cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Boxer”.
“The Boxer” Is one of those songs that I have loved for years. It’s one of my Mom’s favorite Simon and Garfunkel songs. In the original, I love the storm sound effects, especially after the “lai lai lai”s. I also tend to love songs with ‘La’s” and “badumps” and other random syllables.
Anyway, when I first learned that Mumford and Sons had covered this song, I was excited. Then nervous. I waited a whole day after I bought it to listen. After all, this is a band I love singing a song I love. What if I didn’t like it?
Of course, there was nothing to worry about. It is amazing. While I do believe that the original has more emotion, the Mumford and Sons version is so clear, I realized that there were words I had never understood or thought about. Also, Paul Simon does sing with them, so how could I disapprove?
I ended up putting the song on repeat and listening to it for the rest of the way home. Got some good thinking done. 🙂
“I am just a poor boy
Though my story’s seldom told
I have squandered my resistance
For a pocket full of mumbles such are promises
All lies and jests
Still a man hears what he wants to hear
And disregards the rest”
How often to we believe what we want to believe even though we know that it’s based on fantasy? We justify purchases, pursuing a perfect life that will never exist. We shun those who make different life choices than us even though they are doing us no harm. We push ourselves to make more money, hoarding it even when there are those who cannot fulfill their fundamental needs.
“When I left my home and my family
I was no more than a boy
In the company of strangers
In the quiet of the railway station running scared
Laying low, seeking out the poorer quarters
Where the ragged people go
Looking for the places only they would know”
This man is searching, like we all are. We don’t know what he’s searching for or why, but then, do we ever really know what we’re looking for ourselves? How many times do we reach our goals only to feel unfulfilled? This verse paints a picture of the world, filled with people, but still lonely.
“Asking only workman’s wages
I come looking for a job
But I get no offers,
Just a come-on from the whores on Seventh Avenue
I do declare, there were times when I was so lonesome
I took some comfort there”
I think that a lot of people can relate to this in the current economy. Sometimes you resort to things that you never thought you would when you’re lonely and desparate. (I never made the connection that Paul Simon was singing about whores. I don’t know what I thought the words were, but I was wrong)
“Then I’m laying out my winter clothes
And wishing I was gone
Where the New York City winters aren’t bleeding me
Bleeding me, going home”
Simon and Garfunkel often sing about home. “Homeward Bound” is another one of theirs that I love. Today it got me thinking about what home is. When the character in the song left his home, did he appreciate it? Was he searching for a new home? Does he have a chance to make a home in cold New York? (And of course, I have to give a shout out to Huey Lewis with “Once Upon a Time in New York City, from Disney’s Oliver and Company).
“In the clearing stands a boxer
And a fighter by his trade
And he carries the reminders
Of ev’ry glove that layed him down
Or cut him till he cried out
In his anger and his shame
“I am leaving, I am leaving”
But the fighter still remains”
And this is the heart of the piece. We change perspective and meet the title character of the song. He is beaten down, just like the other young man. But he’s a fighter. He’ll keep going. Maybe the narrator will find his home after all.