One of the rankdown challenges I have participated in over the past few days is one that invites listeners to rank songs that were popular in the UK, Canada, or Australia that were not popular in the United States. I was intrigued at the fact that I had not even heard more than half of these songs before or even heard of most of them, even though some of them were very popular in other English-speaking countries and some of them were even from bands that I like. Even the songs that I knew were largely ones that I only had heard a few times before they slipped from the charts and from my consciousness.
Although this may not be of interest to everyone, I am fascinated by the way in which things resonate differently for some people than for others. For me, I find that music resonates with me best if one of several conditions can be met: the song is one I can see myself singing, the song is one I can see someone singing to me (and enjoying it), or it is one that resonates with what I have observed from others as being true to my experience in some fashion. I find that a rather large number of songs can meet one of these three categories but there is also a lot that simply does not relate to my life and such songs are ones I can see as being relevant to others but they are simply not for me. I find a great deal in this day and time is simply not made for me.
How do we choose to deal with this? There are a lot of reasons why something is not made for us, and that is not always a sign that either we or other people are necessarily defective. Even if a given cultural artifact fails to provide something that is morally uplifting or something that resonates with my own longings and hopes and dreams, there is value in such things as communication of what is wrong in society. When art is created that reflects deep suffering and anger and obvious problems with relationships and communication and respect and love, it is well worth investigating such matters further. After all, people create art out of their own experience, and when art that is unpleasant resonates with a large audience, it suggests there are a lot of problems that exist within society that are not being addressed by families, churches, communities, schools, and the like.
An example of this is a song that is being pushed to #1 on the country airplay charts and that is a marginal contender for the Year End charts as a whole for this year, the song “One Mississippi,” by Kane Brown. While I am at pains to emphasize that the song does not speak to my own personal experience, it certainly does speak to things that I have observed, with people who are both commitment-shy as people as well as being entangled with others in an on-again, off-again relationship. The song itself appears to be upbeat, but the singer and songwriters are honest enough to talk about the damage that results to one’s character from engaging in such behavior. One wishes the characters in the song would simply find a way out of their trap and either find better people to be with or accept their tie with each other and acknowledge it already to each other and themselves.
When we find something that resonates with us, it is worth pondering why this is the case. What is it that connects with us so? Does the message of the song resonate with our experiences or our longings? Is the production something that we can vibe to or dance with or that is nostalgic to what we view as a happier time? Do we find the lyrics speaking to something we have experienced in such a way that we wish we could express ourselves? We ought to be careful when we find something that resonates with us, because we can be blinded to the flaws of that which sings to us because of the fact that it sings to us. And similarly, if something does not sing to us, we need not to assume that it is worthless for that. It would not be made if it did not sing to someone in some fashion, and that is worth finding out.