I’m wondering, because as I have been obsessively listening to the new Ben Folds album over the last week, I realized this morning that I had no idea what most of the songs are called (This is totally par for the course for me – Trevor’s constantly asking me about song titles – um, and artists – to songs that I know all the lyrics to, and more often than not I cannot [correctly] answer). And as I realized that one song that I was in the middle of was called ‘Cologne’, it changed the entire way I was thinking about what it meant.
Before it was about the painful disintegration of a relationship:
Four, three, two, one,Now, there’s a why and a how: “Here in Cologne, I know I said it wrong…” makes this later verse so much clearer:
I'm letting you go
I will let go
If you will let go
Such a painful tripPerhaps I would have eventually gotten it without knowing the name of the song. Because music is really all about absorbing meaning through lyrics and notes, right? I mean, how often are you sitting with the track list of an album in front of you while you listen to it? Mostly, you’re making dinner or cleaning the apartment while your stereo plays, or walking around with your iPod firmly tucked into your pocket. And even at concerts, only a couple songs are typically introduced by name. So how relevant can a song title really be?
To find out this is it
And when I go to sleep
You'll be waking up
But on the other hand (my internal debating self has three hands), isn’t song meaning really all in the ear of the beholder anyway? Maybe you hear this song, knowing the name of it, and still take away an entirely different meaning.
Extra layer of meaning, simple lyric support or entirely superfluous? I’m just not sure!