film

I wanted to hate this song…

I really did.  The first few times I heard it, I recall thinking that the beginning sounded similar to “Carry on Wayward Son” by Kansas.  The chorus sounds like “Cecilia” by Simon and Garfunkel.  Both songs are classics in their own right and it’s annoying to have audible expectations only to be disappointed.  Furthermore, I thought the band performing the song was One Direction.  With all of this going through my head, my disgust rose with each time I heard the new mishmash of this song.

One day the song was stuck in my head so I began searching Google for the lyrics to find the song and then play it on youtube  in an effort to get it out of my head. Google.  “but i still wake up” lyrics.  Enter.  Ok, here we go.  Let’s try this one.  I get to this video (below) and I watch it.  (con’t after video).

A few things happened the first time that I viewed this: I realized that it wasn’t by One Direction; The video has totally decent production value; and it’s telling a story – a good one.

Confronted with these self evident facts, I was forced to re-evaluate my perception of this song.   I liked it.  After watching the video for a second time, I found that it tells a timeless story in a meaningful way and maybe the homage to the two classic songs is part of the whole theme of the song and video.

Let me explain: The video opens following two men.  One young and one old.  The younger guy is spending time with his presumed girlfriend and the older guy is doing chores and tending to his homestead.  This bit is filmed in a way that shows the older guy’s enjoyment and respect for the land.  We see the older man also cleaning his rifle and bayonet. Both men go off to fight in the American Civil War, but on different sides; young guy on the Union, the older guy on the Confederacy.

Here’s where this gets interesting.  This song was written in 2010 – 2011 and the video was filmed probably in late 2011/early 2012 (the official video was released on YouTube in June of 2012 and the album dropped in February 2012, so I am making an educated guess here).   The time around when the song was written was the height of the Occupy movement.  In addition to humanizing the ‘other side’, the lyrics repeatedly ask “What do I stand for?  What do I stand for?”  The chumbolones of the Occupy movement  avoided any central leadership and failed to answer the question of what they stood for in a unifying and meaningful way and the movement fizzled out.

aaaaand it's gone

Occupy what?

That is the understated theme  that I picked up from this video.  More overtly the song and video are about losing oneself and compromising one’s values in the face of war, but I took away from it an equally enduring conflict of young vs. old and the two different ideologies as it related to the Occupy movement.  When the veneer of war and overt conflict is stripped away from the rift between the 99% and the 1%, the Occupiers and whomever it is they were occupying against, it’s just about people fighting for their way of life, just like the two men in the video (and the Civil War itself).  

It would seem that this song is a call to action for young people in general to make a definitive stance on what they stand for, and to fight for it. In the video the older guy knew what he was fighting for.  He was fighting for his farm, his horse, his land, his way of life.  It seemed that the younger guy was going off to war as part of his duty.  He was with his girlfriend and didn’t want to leave her, but had to.  As it turns out, he was just a slightly better fighter and was able to win the struggle, but he didn’t have the motivations for fighting that his opponent did, thus leaving him lost and conflicted and asking the question over and over again, “What do I stand for?  What do I stand for?” 

“But I still wake up, I still see your ghost
Oh, Lord, I’m still not sure what I stand for, oh
What do I stand for? What do I stand for?
Most nights I don’t know anymore…”

Read more: Fun. – Some Nights Lyrics | MetroLyrics 

An aimless struggle, a directionless movement will not result in any meaningful change, as was evidenced by the whole Occupy movement.  This calls to mind the old adage, “Stand for something or you will fall for anything.” As young people, it is important to make a thought out and intelligent decision on what you stand for and why, and then defend that with everything you have.  Also, if there is another sort of movement, it must be united by a common cause or ideal.  If the Occupy movement focused on the issue of income inequality and only focused on that issue, the the potential to achieve success in reform was well within their grasp.  Without clear issues, without clear direction, without knowing what you stand for, all the ‘victories’ will be hollow. 

I’m interested in hearing about your interpretations on this little movie.  It’s pretty awesome and I’ve enjoyed watching it something like 15 – 20 times.  Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments.