Friday, November 9, 2007

I Have Another Question For You

So, as you may have read, I included a Flaming Lips song in my Wyoming is Beautiful post, because when I looked at Cindy's photograph with its big sky and little flowers and reaching, hopeful grain, I could only think of the bells and grandeur and wild happiness of Do You Realize? And I posted it sure that, even if no one else got the connection, they could love the photo and the song, because each were so obviously beautiful and easy on the senses.

But then my mom left this comment:

"i am not getting this. cindy's beautiful photo i get. but what's with that dreadful video. that wretched song. fake rabbits. bad elephant? help me out here. has it to do with the GTD?
oh. maybe hallucinogens."

And I have to say, this shocked the hell out of me. Here I thought the Flaming Lips were doing a modern day Beatles thing, what with their catchy, expansive melodies, Ringo Starr drum rolls, and love-conquers-all lyrics. I thought if any song on my iPod would play well to a Baby Boomer ear, Do You Realize? would be it.

So will you do me a favor? Listen to the song again and tell me what you think. Do you love it? Hate it? Understand it? Have I discovered one of those often discussed but rarely realized Generation Gaps, or is this just a case of my mom and I not seeing eye to eye? Please include your age (or at least your decade) in your response.


Justin said...

41, as you know. Meh, it's a so-so song. It's got a nice-sounding chorus, which we get about 30 times, but in between it's just a guy with an average voice singing platitudes. There are Beatles trappings tacked on, but no Beatles substance. Try to whistle this song. Other than the chorus, there is no real melody.

David said...

58 (holy cow!).
I love the song. For me, being able to hum along is irrelevant, even though I really enjoyed the music. What's important to me is jarring, then opening our consciousness in new ways- ways that entertain, but also fix the ideas with images in such a way that we see ourselves with a slightly different, more true vision.
I'd put the song close to two others of my favorites (and both of which I've used in church!):

Bright Eyes, At the Bottom of Everything

REM, Everybody Hurts

sallie said...

49 (and not pleased to be reminded)

Well, I did tear up when the elephant laid down. The song may go down much better if not accompanied by the video. Is this guy British and are the rabbits weird British humor?? I find the dancers to be disturbing.

Honestly, the first time I did not listen all the way through so this time I did. I can see that it could grow on me (without the video) but I would have to agree with Justin, its a so-so song and it would never make it on to my ipod (if I am ever lucky enough to own an ipod!)

I believe that if I was 25 and just lost my brother I would be very moved by this song. I think my ears have become old and jaded.

OK all you lurkers, don't be shy, we need some feedback on this one, so far we are all over 40.

RJ said...

Nother old fart here! I think it's a brilliant song that sums up a moment we all have more than once. (Sad if we don't.) I think the images might get in the way of absorbing this song; they make it harder to tell that, yes, he really means it.

Joshua said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joshua said...

33 years old. So not quite here nor there...

But my take: Leave it to David (my dad) to have the "right" answer. Of course, I'm biased as this is one of my very favorite bands of all time, but I think the lyrics do something pretty extraordinary. (The music is brilliant too, but that's another thousand words.)

I left a job on my lunch break to buy this record the day it came out, and sat in my car off I-35 in Dallas eating my lunch and listening to it. So we'll begin with the sort of play-by-play reaction to the lines that I was having that day, before the song was "known" and became the first track on every 15 year old's mix tapes.

It's begin with this moment of personal beauty.

"Do you realize...that you have the most beautiful face?"

Okay, nice of you to say...And then, they immediately expand the scope.

"...that we're floating in space..."

Huh? Okay, I'm interested, though.

"...that happiness makes you sad..."

Well, yes, I do realize that but that's kind of a depressing turn all the sudden.

"...that everyone you know, one day, will die."

Wow. Now I'm depressed.

But before we move on, notice the moves there. From the concrete particular (your face) and then expanded out to the universe (space), then to the abstract (happiness) and then to the abstract but this time in its most concrete (death). It's a circle. Do you realize how wonderful that is?

But back to the song and the fact that we sit here now depressed. In one verse, we've gone from a pontification on beauty to the fact that everyone you know one day will die. Ouch. The rug's pulled out so fast, we can't help but fall. Its almost cruel.

But it's not. Because The Flaming Lips have a solution. Here's what you can do about it: "Let them know you realize...."

Wait. What is this solution exactly? It seems Hallmarky, maybe easy at first, but I think that's a lyrical trick (more on that), but that's also because the song has become synonymous with a particular moment in movies, tv, whatever, where one person is gazing into another's eyes. The song, in that way, has unfortunately come to represent an emotion that isn't nearly as sophisticated as the song itself.

Because, the solution to this little problem isn't as simple as it seems. But it does seem simple.

"Let them know you realize that life goes fast, it's hard to make the good things last."

Nothing to it. I can do that. But that's a ruse. They're reeling you in and now that they've got you close, smiling, comfortable: here comes the bombshell.

"Let them know you realize the sun doesn't go down, it's just an illusion caused by the world spinning round."

That's pretty heavy: Death, then, is only an illusion. It's not an end, it's not even real, and certainly not something to fear or dread. Hmm...

From where I'm sitting, the sun is setting outside my window. But it's not setting. Nor is the sun rising elsewhere. The sun isn't even moving. And that is what The Lips want us to see, that we speak and think in antiquated terms. That the definitions of our world (and ourselves) are still flat conceptually.

Now you're job is to let your loved ones know that. Only, of course, you can't, because you don't know that yourself yet, because it's the hardest thing you will ever come to know, so hard only the best among us ever figure it out.

And here we see what the song is really trying to do. It's not trying to tell you that you're going to be okay because the worst thing that's going to happen to you in your life is that you will die, and that dying isn't that bad, because dying is just an illusion caused by the world spinning round.

No, it's asking you to tell that to someone else. Knowing that if you can tell someone else that, and explain it to them so they will understand it and be comforted by it, then you just might begin to understand it yourself. And what a thing that would be.

robin said...

...the imagery and the lyrics and the music were the worst possible combination...sorry, hun, but it was all lost on me, save the lovely photograph.....age 46...

we all grow and do our tastes in music...the age issue has little to do with it..... : )

Anonymous said...

Devon says...

I'm 22, and I love this song. Of course, for me it brings back memories of sitting in a hundred year old bar in Cork, Ireland with my ex boyfriend. The Flaming Lips album had just come out and it was put on in between sets by a live jazz band. Good times, and a damn good song.
And completely relevant, too.

Korey(S) said...

20, I love this well as this band. "Do you realize" was the first lips song I heard...and it came to me in a time of question, so maybe this is why i think so highly of it.

In my opinion the video is trying to show happiness and the beauty of the way things work. The bunnies are maybe there as a sign of the continuation of life...but then again, the lips always have people dressed in costumes. doesn't have to make sense to all to be appreciated or admired by some...

Justin said...

Forgot to mention...the music appears to owe a lot, an awful lot, to "Disarm" by the Smashing Pumpkins. The intros are virtually identical, right down to the bells.

Anonymous said...

Late 20s here. That your mom went so far as to call the song "wretched" gave me a tiny little pain in my heart. So harsh! Is it because the sound quality on the YouTube video wasn't great? Because I feel like "wretched" is a word I would use to describe the Macarena song or the free credit report dot com jingle. Something really grating and without value, you know? I can understand this song not being someone's bag, but "wretched"?!? I think it's so pretty and I totally get how the picture made you think of it. Hearing it makes me think of running through a wide open field with arms outstretched, of having one of those moments when you're just totally in love with the universe, when everything is beautiful and clear. The video is wacky, but my interpretation of it is that it's supposed to be dream-like. The ballerinas and the bunnies in Vegas make me think of the dream I'd have if I fell asleep watching the Macy's parade. And like some cracked-out dream, you shouldn't try to make sense of it.

Sallie again said...


what would Kyle think of this song????

Please tell me what you think he would say here Mir?

OnlyChild said...

Kyle would probably hate this song, though I think he would agree with the overall sentiment if you someone other than his sister had him read the lyrics.

didi979 said...

I love that soooooo many people responded to your request for feedback about this song! I liked it. I didn't get the visuals, but I like the idea that it's a dream about happy, childlike things - or maybe someone's whacked out idea of heaven.

Great comments from many.

Love yah,

cynthia said...

okay. i listened to it again. without watching the video. i'm still having trouble, but i'm trying here. my mom, your grandmother used to say, "there's no accounting for taste." (actually she said, "there's no accounting for BAD taste," but i'm trying to make a point not to be nasty.) maybe i'm just too rooted in motown, dylan, taylor, cohen, beatles, stones etc., and everything else seems redundant. although i did like a lot of that alternative stuff from when you and ky were in middle and high school.

so anyway, i listened again and this is what i thought: first of all, he sounds like early neil young or crosby, or stills, or nash, but that's not bad.

second, i like the "boing" sound. reminds me of "Pluck your magic twanger, Froggy." now who amongst you gets that reference?

third, and here's where i start the critic part, the phrase: "Do you realize" repeated over and over seems condescending to me. as in "i realize it, the singing chorus realizes it, the dancers in the throw-back 1960's outfits realize it and, you idiot you alone aren't realizing it, but we're about to open your eyes."

then, all of the things that you have not realized until Mr. Lips told you, are--well--not major cognitive breakthroughs. i realize beauty is not skin deep. i realize we're all gonna die. but i realize it's not an illusion. it's the fucking end. i will never see my son or talk to him again. that's not an illusion. that's a tragedy.

and joshua, you are giving this group too much credit. your interpretation was better than the lyrics. you've got the gift here. altho you didn't mention the one line i like, "instead of saying all your goodbyes" --that's nice. cause yeah, you realize all this crap and now it's head for the bridge time.

anyway, i don't want to belabor this. there are so many truly wonderful songs that we would all probably love. and some wonderful songs we can't agree on. and some lousy songs that some of us love because we grew up with them, or because we love everything the group does, or because we have a tin ear, or something. vive les differences.

my vote for a song for cindy's picture: How about Here Comes the Sun?