Friday, December 26, 2008

Songs With Meaning: Dar Williams

I hope that all of you who celebrated Christmas had a wonderful holiday, and those still celebrating holidays are rocking 'em out. Of course, it was greatly saddening to hear of Eartha Kitt's passing yesterday, but no doubt the irony was not lost on anyone familiar with the infamous "Santa Baby" and her great life will be remembered by many on Christmases yet to come. 

Now, time for the music. Every now and then I come across a song that moves me because of the unique story behind it, whether it be Frank Ticheli's adaptation of Sara Teasdale's There Will Be Rest or Joni Mitchell's For Free. Songs that aren't just about finding someone cute at a club or some other love-related melody that are a dime a dozen these days. Don't get me wrong- those songs can be enjoyable, but it only helps to make me appreciate the rarer forms of expression about issues in the world. 

I still owe a large favor to the girls on my freshman dorm floor who introduced me to the brilliant Dar Williams, because man, does that woman pull out the greats every time she exhales. Her lyrics are smart and her guitar skills faboo, and I won't even begin to tell you how many live versions of "Babysitter" I have in my music collection. Dar recently released her newest album, Promised Land, and that's where you can find the song featured today. 

Buzzer is about the social psychological experiment commonly referred to as the Milgram experiment that was conducted in 1963 to figure out how much pain a person would inflict on another individual if ordered to. I'll let you check out the link if you want more info on the experiment, but I think the idea is super important in times like these when certain nations have a stigma of destruction and exploitation about them and much of the world is weary about that nation's character and intentions. It's good to ask, "how far WOULD you go if someone ordered you to?" and its brilliant of Dar to write a song about it in such a thought provoking (and toe-tapping) way. 

The man said, do you know what a fascist is?
I said, yeah, it's when you do things you're not proud of
But you're scraping by, taking orders from above 
I get it now, I'm the face, I'm the cause of war
We don't have to blame white coated men anymore

Buzzer [mp3] (itunes

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