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What Would People Think?

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

"The Perfect Scam"

So these are the lyrics to the new song I just wrote a couple days ago. It's nice to finally beat the creative draught that's had its hold on me since Fall 2004. (That's the last time I finished a song.)

I will eventually post the meaning of this song. I don't believe in making people guess about what my songs are about or "find their own meaning." I've always found that annoying. But since my attempts at explanation have thus far turned out to be quite confessional and incoherent, they will wait for the moment.

This, by the way, is a "do-do" song. In the same way that other songs are "nah-nah" songs. I've got a definite tune and some musical instructions in my head, but I'll just post the lyrics here because the instructions are too distracting. If you want more info, shoot me an e-mail.

The Perfect Scam

Lyrics by Ben Stark

I don’t know

What made me think I’m so strong.

I stayed low

And stumbled all the way.

My bigger head

I let it swell s-so large.

I took their praise

And let myself decay….

Until I blow up.
Why don’t I grow up?

And when will the lies end?

I’d rather be nothing than try to pretend.

I hide the coward I am

And everyone’s falling for the perfect scam

In some ways I’m

Still crying on the playground

In others I

Can play the bully now

To earn their love

I act like I deserve love

Be “nice” like me?

Well, I can show you how

Until I fall down

And break this wall down

And when will the lies end?

I’d rather be nothing than try to pretend.

I hide the coward I am

And everyone’s falling for the perfect scam

I must give in

If I could only learn how…

I’ll break my knees

To teach me how to bow

No more to buy in

No more of dyin’

My throat may dry out

But still I cry out

Oh, when will the lies end?

Thank God I’m not nothing nor what I pretend.

I hid the coward I am

But someone’s not falling for the perfect scam

The truth is that I am loved

And I didn’t earn it or cause it to end

No need for my schemes and scams

Your gospel of love is the perfect plan


  • Sorry about the formatting. Cutting and pasting from Word does weird stuff.

    By Blogger Ben, at 3/29/2006 12:01 AM  

  • The song is good, though I do think you're being too hard on yourself ;-) My particular fave lines are the stutter "s-so" in the second verse and the bridge.

    It's interesting how when I read the last choruses, I thought you were going in a different direction until the "gospel of love" part. I.e. I thought you were going to say something about the people who love you (family, friends, fiance). I was reminded about how a lot of my friends can see right through some of my facades. However, I like the reference to an earlier song (I do that a lot). And I'm sure that last line will hit home for your fellow Christians.

    Is that whole "making people guess what songs are about" thing a shot at me? Still bitter about "Disoriented", or perhaps my most recent song (sorry for the shameless promotion)? Hehe, just harassing you.

    And finally, though I've rambled too long already, I just wanted to point out how funny it is that my word verification thing for this comment contains the word "wuss".

    By Blogger Mike, at 3/29/2006 10:05 AM  

  • Well, for the record, the "making people guess" isn't a shot at you, except inasmuch as we disagree over the coolness in that particular practice of rock stars. Just as you and Barzelay seem to find fake encores annoying and I enjoy them as part of the fun...in the same way you seem to like when rock stars don't spell out the meaning of their songs...I don't like that.

    This relates to an artistic debate Jeff and I had once. Jeff held that a work of art (song, movie, whatever) has no inherent meaning, just the meaning it has for the audience....for each individual member of the audience, it can have a different meaning. I, on the other hand, argued that a work of art means what its creator intends it to mean. People might relate something to their own experiences (i.e. the song "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay" has romantic connotations to me because Christy and I danced to it once....but it's not a romantic song at all), but that doesn't change the meaning of the work itself. I think this came up as we were discussing "Meant To Live" by Switchfoot.

    You can see how such a disagreement about meaning would affect whether one likes artists to explain their works (or, more to the point, to revel in their non-explanation).

    Enough of that. Other people comment on my song! I will comment on Mike's song soon.

    By Blogger Ben, at 3/29/2006 11:14 AM  

  • Actually, I'm generally a fan myself of telling people what my songs are about. (Note how most of them have stories on the soon-to-be-defunct Unexpectedly Sober site.) "Disoriented" was extenuating circumstances (i.e. you didn't know he was gay when I initially wrote the song), as was the "Untitled" song I linked to and am sworn to secrecy about. But I always like knowing what a song was being written about. It helps avoid awkward moments like the time I called that one girl a moron for thinking "Solsbury Hill" was about Jesus.

    However, I am going to have to partially agree with Jeff. Most artists approach their works from a particular direction, so in that sense, art does mean what its artists intend. However, it also has a meaning for each audience member. In a sense, you are both right.

    I know, I know, how many times have I said that before? But I don't think I'm straddling the fence this time. An example that springs immediately to mind is P.O.D.'s "Alive". They wrote it about God - they're a Christian group and its fairly obvious. I'm certain you take it for its literal meaning. However, I (and I believe Jeff agreed when we talked about it once) listen to it and imagine someone falling in love. Is my interpretation less valid? No, because it gives me a way to relate to the song I wouldn't have otherwise.

    As a songwriter, I often use lyrics that offer multiple interpretations. While I know which I actually mean, I want the listener to decide for himself. It's more fun that way.

    By Blogger Mike, at 3/29/2006 6:41 PM  

  • Blink 182's "Easy Target" just came up on my iPod, reminding me of another point I'm not sure I ever made: sometimes knowing the meaning behind a work of art actually increases its power. That song is a prime example; the first time I listened to the album, I glazed over it. Later on, when I was reading the liner notes and found out what it was about (a popular girl back in middle school setting him up to be humiliated just for kicks) the lyrics suddenly hit that much harder. But maybe that's just me.

    By Blogger Mike, at 3/30/2006 6:00 PM  

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