Today we have a song by the grunge revivalists from South Africa who call themselves “Seether.” Song #4 on Billboard’s “Mainstream Rock Songs” chart is their song, “Same **** Life.”
(I know, I probably don’t need to censor that word anymore, especially since it’s going to show up in the video title. but one of my mom’s friends might read this, and I don’t want to embarrass anyone more than necessary. You remember back when the Kingston Trio got in trouble for “Greenback Dollar“?)
That’s the lyric video, because the actual video gets NSFW toward the end. And I know I’ve said it before, but I still think so long as there’s a demand for lyric videos — a strong enough demand that bands try to put theirs out first before fans can — the world is not entirely lost.
This song is standard fare for Seether, lyrically-speaking. Shaun Morgan complains about his life while criticizining “you” (presumably an ex — I always assume it’s Amy Lee) for being even worse than he is.
The complaining-about-his-life is something I can handle. That’s what grunge is all about. The criticizing-you-for-being-even-worse, however, is typical of emo, and has always annoyed me (like the frequent criticism of parents annoyed Saliva; though I think Saliva was criticizing Linkin Park and Staind, whose albums from 2000 and 2001 [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][respectively] were just impossibly good).
Musically, the song’s main/verse riff is quality grunge. It takes what is a fundamentally a two-chord progression and makes it interesting. However:
(a) the verses and choruses are musically unrelated,
(b) the bridge-to-chorus transition is the one of the worst (most jarring/forced) I’ve ever heard, and
(c) the choruses’ progression starts and ends its central motif on the same chord, creating an awkward moment where there is no harmonic movement even as it is trying to move forward.
Don Henley (Boo!)
The worst instance of that third problem is Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer.” The second and third chords of the chorus of “Boys of Summer” are identical. Just where the song is supposed to move forward, it freezes.
“How can they be the second and the third chords, then? If they’re the same, then it’s just the second.”
Just listen to the song and you’ll see what I mean. The chorus has a four-chord structure, with changes just before (1) “I [can see you],” (2) “your [brown skin shining],” “you [got your hair],” and “sunglasses [on].” It’s just that (2) and (3) are the same chord. It sounds like he forgot which chord came next, and decided to just stick with the one he was on.
“But if they’re different, they can’t be the same, and if they’re the same, they can’t be different!” you continue to insist.
Ah, but that’s where you’re wrong (I smugly retort). You’re confusing numerical identity with specific identity.
You are the same thing as yourself, which means you are “numerically identical” to yourself. But while you and I are numerically distinct (we are not the same thing), we are the same kind of thing.
That is, I assume you’re human. I know I am. We belong to the same species, and thus are “specifically” identical.
Harry Potter (Yay!)
“Blah blah blah,” you mutter, because you’re just the worst at debates.
Think of it like this (I say soothingly). It’s like someone hands you a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. You read it, and say, “Next book, please!”
So, the person hands you a copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. You start reading it. It sounds familiar. You’re pretty sure you recognize the first scene. Is it a flashback? Is that why the words are all spelled slightly odd?
Eventually, you realize it’s the same book. You’re just reading a copy of the British original, rather than a copy of the American adaptation. You’re reading the same book all over again, even though it’s a different copy.
“So, you think you and I are like two copies of some original?” you ask, skeptically.
If I were a Platonist, I would.
“Are you a Platonist?” you ask.
A lot of the time, yes. Yes I am.
“Weirdo,” you say.
Seether Proves Deconstruction?
Look, it’s not about me. The problem is with the song. Its verses and choruses don’t hang together. It doesn’t form a whole. It’s a heap. It’s not even identical with itself.
And then in the middle of its choruses, one part of it is identical with another part of it — which means it’s missing a part.
“Wait, are we talking about the Don Henley song, or the Seether song?”
The Seether song.
“You do realize they’re two different songs, right? If the Seether song isn’t even the same as itself, it definitely isn’t the same as ‘Boys of Summer’.”
Yes. I know. It’s just they just have the same problem. (One of the same problems, anyway.)
“You totalizing fool,” you say, shaking your head sadly. “. . . But the verse melody of the Seether song is really catchy.”
Yeah, especially the falsetto part. It’s like: he’s a guy, but he’s singing like a girl. He’s deconstructing the gender binary!
“No. Stop. Seether is not on a noble mission to bring awareness to serious social issues. Enough of your academic flights of fancy.”
The Hidden Track
Q: What kind of philosophy were we doing today?
A: Ontology / Metaphysics.
Continue your investigation at:
- The links above.
- “Identity” (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
- “Platonism in Metaphysics” (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
- “Emmanuel Levinas” (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
- “Deconstruction” (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy)