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The World in Six Songs

THE WORLD IN SIX SONGS
HOW THE MUSICAL BRAIN CREATED HUMAN NATURE
Available in Hardcover, Paperback, Audiobook
Page # Song / Author / Description
35
Russians - Sting

"In Europe and America
There’s a growing feeling of hysteria
Conditioned to respond to all the threats
In the rhetorical speeches of the Soviets
Mr. Khrushchev said we will bury you
I don’t subscribe to this point of view
It would be such an ignorant thing to do
If the Russians love their children too

How can I save my little boy
From Oppenheimer’s deadly toy
There is no monopoly of common sense
On either side of the political fence
We share the same biology
Regardless of ideology
Believe me when I say to you
I hope the Russians love their children too

The lyrics roll right off the tongue, easily. They’re easy to say, and they feel good in the mouth. Repetitions of vowel and consonant sounds—the phonology—give the verse forward momentum. The meaning is artfully veiled in metaphors. The last line of the first verse mentions children, the fi rst line of the next verse a 'boy,' and then the atom bomb is described in terms of children and boys, 'Oppenheimer’s deadly toy.' The poet delights in stringing together familiar phrases that reverberate in our collective memory—'rhetorical speeches,' 'we will bury you,' 'the political fence,' and so on. The message is cast in terms of a hope that the 'monsters' that inhabited each opposing side of the Cold War (for that is how we were raised to see our enemies, as subhuman monsters) will find common ground and hopefully common sense in their love for their children. This echoes General William Westmoreland’s Vietnam War–era pronouncement (made famous in the chilling documentary Hearts and Minds) that there was no shame in accidentally killing North Vietnamese children because 'the Oriental mind doesn’t put the same high price on life as does the Westerner'...In 'Russians,' Sting artfully interposes pitch accents and linguistic accents. This breathes life into the lyrics by introducing the unexpected, and allowing the text and melody to mutually support (but not entirely determine) one another. Where the melody rises, it sometimes rises on syllables that are unstressed. Such a technique would not work well in a dance or funk song, where the linguistic and melodic accents need to line up in order to give an unambiguous sense of the beat.”

72
If I Had A Rocket Launcher - Bruce Cockburn

"After visiting Guatemalan refugee camps in the early 1980s, Bruce Cockburn wrote an antiwar song, 'If I Had a Rocket Launcher.' 'Aside from airing my own experience,' Cockburn explains, 'which is where the songs always start, if we’re ever going to find a solution for this ongoing passion for wasting each other, we have to start with the rage that knows no impediments, an uncivilized rage that says it’s okay to go out and shoot someone. . . . The idea was to reach a different audience than the politicians by having us go and observe, using the relative visibility that we have to educate the Canadian public to what we had seen and to raise money for projects that OXFAM has in the region.'

Here comes the helicopter – second time today
Everybody scatters and hopes it goes away
How many kids they’ve murdered only God can say
If I had a rocket launcher...I’d make somebody pay

I don’t believe in guarded borders and I don’t believe in hate
I don’t believe in generals or their stinking torture states
And when I talk with the survivors of things too sickening to relate
If I had a rocket launcher...I would retaliate

On the Rio Lacantun, one hundred thousand wait
To fall down from starvationor some less humane fate
Cry for guatemala, with a corpse in every gate
If I had a rocket launcher...I would not hesitate

I want to raise every voice – at least I’ve got to try
Every time I think about it water rises to my eyes.
Situation desperate, echoes of the victims cry
If I had a rocket launcher...Some son of a bitch would die"

216
My Body Is a Cage (My body is…) - Arcade Fire

"'To me,' David [Byrne] says, 'it’s religious and at the same time anthemic. It gets really big at the end, but it’s still very personal. This song’s not calling for spiritual or political revolution or, "we must march and fight" or "we shall overcome,’" or whatever. "My body is a cage that keeps me from dancing with the one I love, but my mind holds the key." It’s beautiful, but to me it’s a little bit backwards; usually it’s the other way. Usually it’s the mind that’s keeping the heart from acting. So it’s the mind telling the heart "No! I’m gonna stop you from indulging in your passions." And then it goes on: "I’m living in an age that calls darkness light . . ." It’s biblical language, but they apply it a little bit to the personal and the political. It’s not one of the social bonding or friendship songs from The World in Six Songs, a kind of rousing "hey, we’re all in this together." It’s more like one person’s torment, one person’s inner experience, which is what makes it such a powerful religion song to me.' 'My Body Is a Cage' showcases religion as a struggle not just against immorality—its usual sphere—but against immortality. The conviction that there is something beyond this corporeal existence—a life, a future, beyond what we know and see here. But my body is a cage preventing me from seeing it. My body is a cage preventing my essence from being able to reach out and merge with that of my lover or my creator."

216
My Body Is a Cage (I'm living in...) - Arcade Fire

"'To me,' David [Byrne] says, 'it’s religious and at the same time anthemic. It gets really big at the end, but it’s still very personal. This song’s not calling for spiritual or political revolution or, "we must march and fight" or "we shall overcome,’" or whatever. "My body is a cage that keeps me from dancing with the one I love, but my mind holds the key." It’s beautiful, but to me it’s a little bit backwards; usually it’s the other way. Usually it’s the mind that’s keeping the heart from acting. So it’s the mind telling the heart "No! I’m gonna stop you from indulging in your passions." And then it goes on: "I’m living in an age that calls darkness light . . ." It’s biblical language, but they apply it a little bit to the personal and the political. It’s not one of the social bonding or friendship songs from The World in Six Songs, a kind of rousing "hey, we’re all in this together." It’s more like one person’s torment, one person’s inner experience, which is what makes it such a powerful religion song to me.' 'My Body Is a Cage' showcases religion as a struggle not just against immorality—its usual sphere—but against immortality. The conviction that there is something beyond this corporeal existence—a life, a future, beyond what we know and see here. But my body is a cage preventing me from seeing it. My body is a cage preventing my essence from being able to reach out and merge with that of my lover or my creator."

273
I’ll Get You Back ("Slow down…favorite") - Juliana Raye

"The role of instinct and pheromones in human mating decisions is also very strong, but it seems to hang in an uneasy balance with rationality, or at least self-delusion and justification masquerading as rationality. This is one of the reasons that the song 'I’ll Get You Back' by Juliana Raye (brilliantly produced by former ELO frontman Jeff Lynne) is so bitingly ironic and funny: When you ran away from me you never looked to see
I was right behind you running just as speedily
Slow down, would tell you me where you’re going
‘Cause I need to know if you’ll be back in time for supper
I cooked your favorite The vocal is delivered with a kind of upbeat, twisted, clueless delusion. Her boyfriend is running out of the house—not walking but running—and she chases after him to fi nd out when he’s coming home for dinner. And oh, by the way, she yells after him, 'I COOKED YOUR FAVORITE!' In the second verse she tells us that she knows about all the affairs he has had, but she doesn’t care, as long as he practices safe sex. Launching into the singsongy, nursery-rhyme chorus, she
sings: I will get you, I will get you, I will get you back
I’ll get you back, I’ll get you back, I’ll get you back
I’ll get you back! As the last note of 'back' reaches a pitched crescendo, the highest note of the song, the evil quiver in her voice forces us to confront the ambiguity in the chorus: Does she mean that she is going to 'win him back' or that she is going to 'get back at him' by some awful retaliation? The second meaning is invoked more strongly as we learn of a heart-stopping violation of trust right along with the singer in the last verse: Sister Mary always had the kindest words to say
She said when she looked at you her doubts would melt away
I swear, sister Mary’s baby looks a lot like you, you know
Oh! Say, it isn’t so!

I will get you, I will get you, I will get you back
I’ll get you back, I’ll get you back, I’ll get you back
I’ll get you back! But something in the delivery tells us that she still wants him, that she still hopes somehow to win back this man who has mistreated her so."





273
I’ll Get You Back (partial chorus) - Juliana Raye

"The role of instinct and pheromones in human mating decisions is also very strong, but it seems to hang in an uneasy balance with rationality, or at least self-delusion and justification masquerading as rationality. This is one of the reasons that the song 'I’ll Get You Back' by Juliana Raye (brilliantly produced by former ELO frontman Jeff Lynne) is so bitingly ironic and funny: When you ran away from me you never looked to see
I was right behind you running just as speedily
Slow down, would tell you me where you’re going
‘Cause I need to know if you’ll be back in time for supper
I cooked your favorite The vocal is delivered with a kind of upbeat, twisted, clueless delusion. Her boyfriend is running out of the house—not walking but running—and she chases after him to fi nd out when he’s coming home for dinner. And oh, by the way, she yells after him, 'I COOKED YOUR FAVORITE!' In the second verse she tells us that she knows about all the affairs he has had, but she doesn’t care, as long as he practices safe sex. Launching into the singsongy, nursery-rhyme chorus, she
sings: I will get you, I will get you, I will get you back
I’ll get you back, I’ll get you back, I’ll get you back
I’ll get you back! As the last note of 'back' reaches a pitched crescendo, the highest note of the song, the evil quiver in her voice forces us to confront the ambiguity in the chorus: Does she mean that she is going to 'win him back' or that she is going to 'get back at him' by some awful retaliation? The second meaning is invoked more strongly as we learn of a heart-stopping violation of trust right along with the singer in the last verse: Sister Mary always had the kindest words to say
She said when she looked at you her doubts would melt away
I swear, sister Mary’s baby looks a lot like you, you know
Oh! Say, it isn’t so!

I will get you, I will get you, I will get you back
I’ll get you back, I’ll get you back, I’ll get you back
I’ll get you back! But something in the delivery tells us that she still wants him, that she still hopes somehow to win back this man who has mistreated her so."





273
I’ll Get You Back ("I swear…isn't so!") - Juliana Raye

"The role of instinct and pheromones in human mating decisions is also very strong, but it seems to hang in an uneasy balance with rationality, or at least self-delusion and justification masquerading as rationality. This is one of the reasons that the song 'I’ll Get You Back' by Juliana Raye (brilliantly produced by former ELO frontman Jeff Lynne) is so bitingly ironic and funny: When you ran away from me you never looked to see
I was right behind you running just as speedily
Slow down, would tell you me where you’re going
‘Cause I need to know if you’ll be back in time for supper
I cooked your favorite The vocal is delivered with a kind of upbeat, twisted, clueless delusion. Her boyfriend is running out of the house—not walking but running—and she chases after him to fi nd out when he’s coming home for dinner. And oh, by the way, she yells after him, 'I COOKED YOUR FAVORITE!' In the second verse she tells us that she knows about all the affairs he has had, but she doesn’t care, as long as he practices safe sex. Launching into the singsongy, nursery-rhyme chorus, she
sings: I will get you, I will get you, I will get you back
I’ll get you back, I’ll get you back, I’ll get you back
I’ll get you back! As the last note of 'back' reaches a pitched crescendo, the highest note of the song, the evil quiver in her voice forces us to confront the ambiguity in the chorus: Does she mean that she is going to 'win him back' or that she is going to 'get back at him' by some awful retaliation? The second meaning is invoked more strongly as we learn of a heart-stopping violation of trust right along with the singer in the last verse: Sister Mary always had the kindest words to say
She said when she looked at you her doubts would melt away
I swear, sister Mary’s baby looks a lot like you, you know
Oh! Say, it isn’t so!

I will get you, I will get you, I will get you back
I’ll get you back, I’ll get you back, I’ll get you back
I’ll get you back! But something in the delivery tells us that she still wants him, that she still hopes somehow to win back this man who has mistreated her so."





285
The Randall Knife - Guy Clark

"'The Randall Knife' is a story about a father and a son. The father has died, and the son is talking about the death of the father, and in a sense the song symbolizes both the death of the relationship and the birth of the relationship. Obviously, there’s the physical death of the relationship as the father is no longer of this world, but you hear in the song a real transformation in the narrator’s perspective that leads you to believe that the relationship with his father is now only beginning. My father had a Randall knife
My mother gave it to him
When he went off to World War II
To save us all from ruin
If you’ve ever held a Randall knife
Then you know my father well
If a better blade was ever made
It was probably forged in hell

My father was a good man
A lawyer by his trade
And only once did I ever see
Him misuse the blade
It almost cut his thumb off
When he took it for a tool
The knife was made for darker things
And you could not bend the rules

He let me take it camping once
On a Boy Scout jamboree
And I broke a half an inch off
Trying to stick it in a tree
I hid it from him for a while
But the knife and he were one
He put it in his bottom drawer
Without a hard word one

There it slept and there it stayed
For twenty some odd years
Sort of like Excalibur
Except waiting for a tear

My father died when I was forty
And I couldn’t find a way to cry
Not because I didn’t love him
Not because he didn’t try
I’d cried for every lesser thing
Whiskey, pain and beauty
But he deserved a better tear
And I was not quite ready

So we took his ashes out to sea
And poured ‘em off the stern
And threw the roses in the wake
Of everything we’d learned
When we got back to the house
They asked me what I wanted
Not the lawbooks, not the watch
I need the thing he’s haunted

My hand burned for the Randall knife
There in the bottom drawer
And I found a tear for my father’s life
And all that it stood for"

287
Bring ‘Em All In (Opening Strum) - Mike Scott

"'Bring ’Em All In' by Mike Scott (the lead songwriter and singer for the Irish band the Waterboys) is to my ears among the most perfect love songs ever written. It is the yearning of one human to feel at one with the world, to embrace all that is contained in it. It is a love song to all of us, to the good and the bad, to the great and the small. It is the song of one man alone with his thoughts, by himself, trying to reach out to become connected. Out of his loneliness and despair he discovers the deepest love, the love of the idea of living, the love of love itself, a willingness to open his heart to everything, even the pain that he knows will be let in when he does so. The song opens with a rapid, almost Spanish strum (technically very difficult to do), played with the fingers and not a pick, to give a delicate gentleness to the moment the fingers strike the strings.
Chorus:
Bring ’em all in, bring ’em all in, bring ’em all in
Bring ’em all, bring ’em all in to my heart (2×)
Bring the little fishes, bring the sharks
Bring ’em from the brightness, bring ’em from the dark
(Chorus)
“Bring ’em all in” functions as a mantra. The melody scoops
up on the word “heart,” as though lifting up objects from the floor
or from the depths of the sea. The half-whispered voice sounds
like a prayer, an intimate song to oneself and one’s creator.
Bring ’em from the caverns, bring ’em from the heights
Bring ’em from the shadows, stand ’em in the light
(Chorus)
Bring ’em out of purdah, bring ’em out of store
Bring ’em out of hiding, lay them at my door
(Chorus)
In a double chorus in the middle, the singer’s voice becomes
even softer, nearly crying, the song takes on the quality of a lamentation, the pleas of a man who is spiritually dying and opening his heart for one last hopeful time as he sings the last verse:
Bring the unforgiven, bring the unredeemed
Bring the lost and nameless, let ’em all be seen
Bring ’em out of exile, bring ’em out of sleep
Bring ’em to the portal, lay them at my feet"
287
Bring ‘Em All In (1st chorus) - Mike Scott

"'Bring ’Em All In' by Mike Scott (the lead songwriter and singer for the Irish band the Waterboys) is to my ears among the most perfect love songs ever written. It is the yearning of one human to feel at one with the world, to embrace all that is contained in it. It is a love song to all of us, to the good and the bad, to the great and the small. It is the song of one man alone with his thoughts, by himself, trying to reach out to become connected. Out of his loneliness and despair he discovers the deepest love, the love of the idea of living, the love of love itself, a willingness to open his heart to everything, even the pain that he knows will be let in when he does so. The song opens with a rapid, almost Spanish strum (technically very difficult to do), played with the fingers and not a pick, to give a delicate gentleness to the moment the fingers strike the strings.
Chorus:
Bring ’em all in, bring ’em all in, bring ’em all in
Bring ’em all, bring ’em all in to my heart (2×)
Bring the little fishes, bring the sharks
Bring ’em from the brightness, bring ’em from the dark
(Chorus)
“Bring ’em all in” functions as a mantra. The melody scoops
up on the word “heart,” as though lifting up objects from the floor
or from the depths of the sea. The half-whispered voice sounds
like a prayer, an intimate song to oneself and one’s creator.
Bring ’em from the caverns, bring ’em from the heights
Bring ’em from the shadows, stand ’em in the light
(Chorus)
Bring ’em out of purdah, bring ’em out of store
Bring ’em out of hiding, lay them at my door
(Chorus)
In a double chorus in the middle, the singer’s voice becomes
even softer, nearly crying, the song takes on the quality of a lamentation, the pleas of a man who is spiritually dying and opening his heart for one last hopeful time as he sings the last verse:
Bring the unforgiven, bring the unredeemed
Bring the lost and nameless, let ’em all be seen
Bring ’em out of exile, bring ’em out of sleep
Bring ’em to the portal, lay them at my feet"
287
Bring ‘Em All In ("Bring 'em from the caverns…heights") - Mike Scott

"'Bring ’Em All In' by Mike Scott (the lead songwriter and singer for the Irish band the Waterboys) is to my ears among the most perfect love songs ever written. It is the yearning of one human to feel at one with the world, to embrace all that is contained in it. It is a love song to all of us, to the good and the bad, to the great and the small. It is the song of one man alone with his thoughts, by himself, trying to reach out to become connected. Out of his loneliness and despair he discovers the deepest love, the love of the idea of living, the love of love itself, a willingness to open his heart to everything, even the pain that he knows will be let in when he does so. The song opens with a rapid, almost Spanish strum (technically very difficult to do), played with the fingers and not a pick, to give a delicate gentleness to the moment the fingers strike the strings.
Chorus:
Bring ’em all in, bring ’em all in, bring ’em all in
Bring ’em all, bring ’em all in to my heart (2×)
Bring the little fishes, bring the sharks
Bring ’em from the brightness, bring ’em from the dark
(Chorus)
“Bring ’em all in” functions as a mantra. The melody scoops
up on the word “heart,” as though lifting up objects from the floor
or from the depths of the sea. The half-whispered voice sounds
like a prayer, an intimate song to oneself and one’s creator.
Bring ’em from the caverns, bring ’em from the heights
Bring ’em from the shadows, stand ’em in the light
(Chorus)
Bring ’em out of purdah, bring ’em out of store
Bring ’em out of hiding, lay them at my door
(Chorus)
In a double chorus in the middle, the singer’s voice becomes
even softer, nearly crying, the song takes on the quality of a lamentation, the pleas of a man who is spiritually dying and opening his heart for one last hopeful time as he sings the last verse:
Bring the unforgiven, bring the unredeemed
Bring the lost and nameless, let ’em all be seen
Bring ’em out of exile, bring ’em out of sleep
Bring ’em to the portal, lay them at my feet"
287
Bring ‘Em All In - Mike Scott

"'Bring ’Em All In' by Mike Scott (the lead songwriter and singer for the Irish band the Waterboys) is to my ears among the most perfect love songs ever written. It is the yearning of one human to feel at one with the world, to embrace all that is contained in it. It is a love song to all of us, to the good and the bad, to the great and the small. It is the song of one man alone with his thoughts, by himself, trying to reach out to become connected. Out of his loneliness and despair he discovers the deepest love, the love of the idea of living, the love of love itself, a willingness to open his heart to everything, even the pain that he knows will be let in when he does so. The song opens with a rapid, almost Spanish strum (technically very difficult to do), played with the fingers and not a pick, to give a delicate gentleness to the moment the fingers strike the strings.
Chorus:
Bring ’em all in, bring ’em all in, bring ’em all in
Bring ’em all, bring ’em all in to my heart (2×)
Bring the little fishes, bring the sharks
Bring ’em from the brightness, bring ’em from the dark
(Chorus)
“Bring ’em all in” functions as a mantra. The melody scoops
up on the word “heart,” as though lifting up objects from the floor
or from the depths of the sea. The half-whispered voice sounds
like a prayer, an intimate song to oneself and one’s creator.
Bring ’em from the caverns, bring ’em from the heights
Bring ’em from the shadows, stand ’em in the light
(Chorus)
Bring ’em out of purdah, bring ’em out of store
Bring ’em out of hiding, lay them at my door
(Chorus)
In a double chorus in the middle, the singer’s voice becomes
even softer, nearly crying, the song takes on the quality of a lamentation, the pleas of a man who is spiritually dying and opening his heart for one last hopeful time as he sings the last verse:
Bring the unforgiven, bring the unredeemed
Bring the lost and nameless, let ’em all be seen
Bring ’em out of exile, bring ’em out of sleep
Bring ’em to the portal, lay them at my feet"
287
Bring ‘Em All In ("Bring the unforgiven…all be seen") - Mike Scott

"'Bring ’Em All In' by Mike Scott (the lead songwriter and singer for the Irish band the Waterboys) is to my ears among the most perfect love songs ever written. It is the yearning of one human to feel at one with the world, to embrace all that is contained in it. It is a love song to all of us, to the good and the bad, to the great and the small. It is the song of one man alone with his thoughts, by himself, trying to reach out to become connected. Out of his loneliness and despair he discovers the deepest love, the love of the idea of living, the love of love itself, a willingness to open his heart to everything, even the pain that he knows will be let in when he does so. The song opens with a rapid, almost Spanish strum (technically very difficult to do), played with the fingers and not a pick, to give a delicate gentleness to the moment the fingers strike the strings.
Chorus:
Bring ’em all in, bring ’em all in, bring ’em all in
Bring ’em all, bring ’em all in to my heart (2×)
Bring the little fishes, bring the sharks
Bring ’em from the brightness, bring ’em from the dark
(Chorus)
“Bring ’em all in” functions as a mantra. The melody scoops
up on the word “heart,” as though lifting up objects from the floor
or from the depths of the sea. The half-whispered voice sounds
like a prayer, an intimate song to oneself and one’s creator.
Bring ’em from the caverns, bring ’em from the heights
Bring ’em from the shadows, stand ’em in the light
(Chorus)
Bring ’em out of purdah, bring ’em out of store
Bring ’em out of hiding, lay them at my door
(Chorus)
In a double chorus in the middle, the singer’s voice becomes
even softer, nearly crying, the song takes on the quality of a lamentation, the pleas of a man who is spiritually dying and opening his heart for one last hopeful time as he sings the last verse:
Bring the unforgiven, bring the unredeemed
Bring the lost and nameless, let ’em all be seen
Bring ’em out of exile, bring ’em out of sleep
Bring ’em to the portal, lay them at my feet"