Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Hyper Balladeers

When I used to teach writing to college freshmen, I naively believed that I could introduce a room full of 18-year-olds to poets like John Donne and Christopher Marlowe and expect them to run with it. After 23 blank stares, I knew it was time to switch gears...and fast.

Nothing a few hundred years and some music couldn't take care of.

When it comes to tapping creativity, it always helps to have creative artistic influences. In a pinch, I know I can always turn to Bjork. She's pretty widely know for challenging conventions. When it comes to lyric writing, however, her use of imagery and narration are outstanding. As evidenced in her song, Hyper Ballad.

Hyper Ballad
We live on a mountain
Right at the top
There's a beautiful view
From the top of the mountain
Every morning I walk towards the edge
And throw little things off like:
Car parts, bottles and cutlery
or whatever I find lying around

It's become a habit
A way
To start the day

I go through this
Before you wake up
So I can feel happier
To be safe up here with you

It's real early morning
No-one is awake
I'm back at my cliff
Still throwing things off
I listen to the sounds they make
On their way down
I follow with my eyes 'til they crash
Imagine what my body would sound like
Slamming against those rocks

And when it lands
Will my eyes
Be closed or open?

I'll go through all this
Before you wake up
So I can feel happier
To be safe up here with you

Lyrically, there is a lot going on. Images of mountaintops, "car parts, bottles and cutlery", and so on. The imagery is very vivid. The lyrics also tell an emotional tale, perhaps one of insecurity, frustration, anger, or dependency. It seems that she gives us enough to work with, but not enough to draw distinct conclusions. Or does she?

Watch the video again. Read the words. What do you think it all means?

Why don't you write the story you perceive from this song?

It's one more way to tap your creativity.

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Michael Stelzner said...

I'm sorry but I have no idea what this gal is saying...

Does she actually have an American following??


Geoff said...

LOL. Yeah, she's Icelandic, but she has a huge American following.

samantha said...

For only having ever listened to a few of her songs, I absolutely love Bjork.

Your post makes me realize I've been missing some of the 'ethereal' if you will in the music I've been listening to as of late.

I'll have to check out the poets that you refer to. For someone who loves writing and reading poetry, I'm really rather illiterate when it comes to all the wonderful poets out there.

(BTW, Lions season is almost here - I say we all meet up at some point and get some beer, wings, and watch some football!)

Patricia Singleton said...

Geoff, Bjork's words definitely stirred something in me. Don't know if I can get it down on paper or not. Will try later. Did not like the video but I am from an older generation. If I write anything, I will link it back to you.