“If life’s not beautiful without the pain… Well, I’d just rather never ever even see beauty again.”
Let’s rewind a decade. One of the first times I was introduced to my forever-favorite band: Modest Mouse. They formed in 1992 in Issaquah, Washington and are still touring (The 90s will always be winning). They are classified as rock but they are anything but “just rock music.”
They are extremely deep; every lyric has meaning. They aren’t typical mainstream ‘rock’ music and let’s not forget that range of guitar. Perhaps, this is where my love and appreciation of music stemmed from. I encourage you all to listen to this band in its entirety and see them in concert because it’s life changing. But today I will focus on one of their songs from their fourth album Good News For People Who Love Bad News– The View.
If there is one thing I’ve learned in life this far, it is that people’s views and perceptions of situations are always going to differ. Life is an ever-changing whirlwind of emotions. One day you high on the beauty of life, in a moment’s time the uncertainty and hardships of life hit you full force. I’ve experienced both extremes today. So, I must write.
With today’s social media society, most people only see one ‘view’ of a person’s life; the happy and never the sad. We are constantly in internal turmoil trying to present the best image of ourselves whether it is online or in person. If sadness lurks its ugly head around the corner, we want to mask it. In reality, we don’t have control over life, shit happens. As the one line in this song states, “Life, it rents us.” Life has more control on us than we have over life.
The chorus is perhaps the most beautiful part of the song, “As life gets longer, awful feels softer/Well, it feels pretty soft to me//And if it takes shit to make bliss/ Well, I feel pretty blissfully.” The writer Isaac Brock is describing that going through ‘awful’ life events is inevitable. We get to a point where these awful feelings get softer because they are losing meaning; we are becoming numb. The pain ends up being dull. In the second line, he’s convinced that’s just how life is. Rather than fixing a bad situation he is affixed in his current emotional state; beauty and pain as one. As humans, we often find ourselves doing this.
The song furthers into the bridge with another powerful line, “If life’s not beautiful without the pain/Well, I’d just rather never ever even see beauty again.” After all the awful things in life, he is starting to think pain is apart of beauty and unappealing without it. He is affixed in that state of mind.
The outro reinstates that, “We are affixed, we are affixed// We are affixed right where we stand.” This is a ‘view’ that as humans we will never really be able to move forward because we don’t have control over our own lives. Once again, we are affixed. Those awful emotions will continue to be with us regardless.
In other words, if life hands you lemons make lemonade. If not, accept the beauty and uncertainty of life for what it is. Drown in your sorrows or enjoy it… I will personally jig it out. This is actually a fun upbeat song, with a heavy meaning. The contradictory. The irony. The beautiful masterpiece.
Happy Listening, Eno