Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Raising HINTERkids: Defending REAL Song Meanings


Do you love a good rock song as much as I do? I simply love the energy, the guitars, and the memories that flourish when a favorite rock 'n roll song hits the radio (too 20th century? sorry...let me rephrase), ...when a favorite song appears in your playlist after a mathematical algorithm determines among the 13,437 songs that today, right now, this second, you should hear "Hot For Teacher" that was ripped from the vinyl record you purchased in 1984 and hid under your bed because the cover showing an angel smoking a cigarette was example #285 your dad would use as to why this music was "of the devil".

The problem?

The four kids in the back seat when the aforementioned song starts playing.

They're young but not stupid.

Given 45 seconds, they'll figure out what the song means and realize that you do NOT spend every waking moment focused on the finer points of Calvinistic Eschatology like you want them to believe.

The solution?

HINTER-apologetics! 

Simply put, this is the ancient skill of defining and defending the HINTER-meaning of the songs you love so that the listener (your kids) hears long-lasting, valuable lessons, while you can rock out to "Ice-Cream Man". 

Lets run through some recent examples of HINTER-apologetics so you can see how it works. In this case, hearing these songs while flying down the highway with the kids in the back seat...


"Back in Black", By: AC/DC (1980)
You see kids, the 1980's brought new fashion trends. The 70's were filled with bright colors and pastel shapes. AC/DC had great fashion insight, what with school uniforms and scottish caps. This was simply a cry for sensibility, formalism, and the color black. It just works for all occasions.

What's that? The lyric, "Of a Cadillac Number one with a bullet, I'm a power pack"? Why that merely a poet exploring the use of the sound "ack", which in 16th century Hedonic culture was a praise to the Lord. 

In fact, some philosophers propose that Brian Johnson (lyric writer, lead singer) was the brother of C.S. Lewis who wanted to escape from his brother's stuffy persona, and who later regularly traded places with C.S. Lewis himself!


"Paradise By The Dashboard Lights", By: Meatloaf (1977)
Listen closely, my dear children, and learn the influence of corporate america. This song by Mr. Loaf (whose father was a farmer and the inventor of modern beef processing), was pure marketing genius! Unknown to most, Mr. Loaf spent his early years selling "Paradise", a line of all-weather sweaters...specifically meant to wear on summer nights. Unfortunately, he struggled to make a dent in the summer-sweater fashion market. 

One day after the Paradise Sweater Inc. quarterly earnings meeting, he had a brainstorm. "What if I make an 8 minute commercial and disguised it as a real song!?!". The rest is history. Take a listen to some of the lyrics:

"Though it's cold and lonely in the deep, dark night, I can see Paradise by the dashboard light" - an obvious and blunt effort to market his Paradise sweaters to fashion-concious truck drivers (those tractor-trailor dashboards are lit up like a runway and made the  Paradise sweater sparkle like a diamond!).

What's that? the lyric, "Ain't no doubt about it we were doubly blessed. 'Cause we were barely seventeen and barely dressed"? Why, that simply refers to the exquisite feel of the Paradise sweater...they felt smooth, they felt tight, they felt so good...they felt so right. This 8 minute commercial used metaphor to suggest a consumer could wear a Paradise sweater, feel young, and not worry about what else they wore because all attention would be on their Paradise sweater.

In a tragic turn of events, the week before the commercial's release, the Paradise Sweater Factory was overrun by bats...which was a rare occurrence in Hell, Michigan. The bats were transferred out of the city, but not before all sweaters were ruined.



"What Do You Do for Money Honey", By: AC/DC (1980)
Ah. A favorite from the Back in Black album, but not the most popular. You see kids, the Young brothers fore-saw the 'me' decade of the 80's coming, and deftly and introspectively asked the future graduates of 1987, "What, in fact, do you do for money? Is Money what you will focus on? Do you not see value in your relationships, serving society, and working for the greater good?" (HINTER paraphrase). Angus was Gandhi in knickers.

What's that? The lyric, "Never gonna give it for free"? Why, that is a scathing commentary on the lack of community service and volunteerism. The "IT" refers to your time, skills, values, and most searingly, your heart. 



"Pour Some Sugar On Me", By: Def Leppard (1988)
You see kids, children's music comes in all forms. This song is the endearing story of a strawberry named Razzle and a raspberry named Dazzle who sneak into a candy factory to make their favorite dessert: Peaches and Cream. We soon learn that Razzle loves television because when it's turned off they can dance and see their reflection...like a mirror. While in the factory, Razzle sees a display and starts dancing, and rascly Dazzle sneaks up and pours sugar on Razzle!

Razzle decides that dancing while making their dessert was an improvement and throughout the song encourages Dazzle to pour all the dessert ingredients on top of her to optimize the mixing process.

What's that? The lyric, "Sometime, anytime, sugar me sweet; Little miss innocent sugar me; Take a bottle, shake it up; Break the bubble, break it up"? Why, that's recipie instructions for the parent to remake the Peaches and Cream treat after this sweet, innocent, song-for-the-ages story is over.

How lovely such a wholesome song can still be heard by youngsters today.


Congratulations! You are well on your way to becoming an expert in HINTER-apologetics. Next time we will cover advanced topics, including:

  • Adding illustrations to reinforce that "Love in an Elevator" by Aerosmith is really describing how the heart of a child has ups and downs and depends on his fathers sacrificial love to see them through the various floors of adolescence. 
  • Hot for Teacher: Van Halen's tireless effort to improve education using allegory and acronyms
  • 1999: The push for a capitalistic society by Prince, Warren Buffett's secret financial advisor
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Question: What rock song do you love? What HINTER-apologetics would you apply?

1 comment:

  1. Oh to lead by example...I actually got into a legal wrangling over this very musical topic with my ex-husband. A few years into his second marriage, he somehow lost his connection to the righteous world of rock-n-roll. Being that I often speak before thinking, "uh-oh, gonna have to explain...think...THINK!!" I found myself paying my attorney to break down the vary fabric of word-play.

    My HINTERapologetic is none other than
    AC/DC Big Balls circuit 1976

    See the connection? Jamming with my oldest son in the car, while reluctantly talking about puberty, while attempting to tie his LD into an analogy he could understand & lighten the mood about sex organs & sex in general...I off the cuff exclaimed the example of BIG BALLS. I believe the final financial tally on this one was near $1500. BUT, it's one of our favorite songs & ALWAYS makes us laugh. We like to think of ourselves when enjoying the tune as English aristocrats at the pub.

    PS We are still discussing the sex issue. Just not using music as an analogy anymore.

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