Natalie Merchant's Carnival Discussion | Opening our eyes and stop playing along

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Natalie Merchant's Carnival Discussion | Opening our eyes and stop playing along

Unread postby musicmonkey » Sun Dec 06, 2015 11:34 pm

Last month Natalie Merchant released a re-recording of her debut solo album Tigerlily released twenty years ago in 1995. Carnival was one of the first songs I heard from her. I was really struck by the profound questions she raises in this song and twenty years later, those questions are still just as important.

This song has universal themes of coming-of-age in the world, "I've walked these streets, a virtual stage it seemed to me..." She talks about seeing "cheap thrill seekers", "a spectacle of wealth and poverty", and "a wild eyed misfit prophet on a traffic island" that stopped and raved of saving her. She feels paralyzed repeating the questions, "Have I been wrong? Have I been wise to shut my eyes and play along?" She sure packs a lot of timeless questions into that song.

For most of us who live in cities, we come across the strange carnival that is urban civilization on a daily basis. We see wealth and we see poverty. We see cheap thrill seekers and wild eyed misfit prophets. We play along but I don't think it's wise. We get caught up. We're busy going about our business. We often think we can't do anything to help anyone of these strangers. Cities are transient. It's hard to get to know people. Nobody seems to make time to talk to each other. Sure we have bars but it's hard to have meaningful discussions under the influence of alcohol. Sure we have churches, but even they are often full of busy people with children to attend to or dinners to go to after the services. We have our guards up and generally think that if someone's trying to talk to us they've probably got mental health issues or some ulterior motive. It's a sad state. There's so much noise and we're all part of that noise.

How can we impact our cities and towns and neighbourhoods for the better? How can we make a difference? How can we better connect with those around us with their earbuds in and their eyes staring down into their smart phones? Are we really more connected or more disconnected than ever? I have a friend who pre-orders his Starbucks coffee from his phone so he can avoid the lineups and dealing with baristas. Is this the world we want? How can we break free from being paralyzed by what our eyes have seen?

I think it starts by not being afraid to get out of our comfort zone and not fearing rejection if we engage with strangers. Every moment we encounter someone we make choices. Humans invented cities. We like to congregate. We need each other.

I'm trying to live more in the present and have had discussions with a few friends lately about the difficulties of making new friendships and getting along better with others despite our differences. My mother has been a great role model to me by just being a friend to others. It's the best way to make friends... say kinds words, listen, invite for dinner, or just be there for others. Let's discuss!

PS - On a sidenote, I think it's wonderful that Natalie Merchant is rocking the grey hair au naturel!

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