Sunday, January 8, 2012

Big & Rich -- "Live This Life" (2004)

Met a man on the street last night
Said his name was Jesus . . .
Thought he was crazy 
'Til I watched him heal a blind man
Watched him heal a blind man 
Now I see

The late Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart once said that while he couldn't define hard-core pornography, "I know it when I see it."  

I think I know a good song when I hear one.  But if you asked me to explain precisely what makes a song a good song, I couldn't do it. 

I don't judge songs based on politics or morality.  There are a lot of songs that are politically wrongheaded or morally repugnant that I think are good songs -- and vice versa, of course.

But one criterion I do apply to songs is authenticity.  Does the singer really believe in what he or she is singing?  

Big & Rich
I have a problem with phoniness and insincerity.  I'm not put off by bad-ass singers unless they are only pretending to be bad-ass for effect.  And while I'm a sucker for sentimental songs about kids or dogs or teenagers in love, I think cynical attempts to capitalize upon the average person's basic good-heartedness for the purpose of selling records are despicable.

I don't know enough about Big Kenny Alphin and John Rich ("Big & Rich") to know if "Live This Life" is sincere and truly from the heart or not.  But I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that Big & Rich believe in angels and an afterlife -- or at least they want to believe in angels and an afterlife -- despite the fact that the duo is most famous for their rather lewd and lascivious single, "Save A Horse (Ride a Cowboy)," which was on the very same album as "Live This Life."

That's because I find the same combination of incongruous characteristics in my own personality.  I may spend a lot of time contemplating my life and trying to become a better person, but I also spend a lot of time posting pictures like this one:

The first verse of this song is quoted at the beginning of this post.  You do get that the singer of the song is the blind man who now can see, don't you?  Or do I have to draw you a picture?  (That man he met on the street last night was telling the truth -- he really was Jesus.)

Next, the singer encounters a girl in a wheelchair:

Met a girl in a chair with wheels
But no one else would see her
Met a girl in a chair with wheels
Everyone was so afraid
To even look down on her
And she just spread her little wings
And flew away

Read those lines carefully.  After meeting Jesus, the singer is no longer blind, so he sees the girl in the wheelchair.  Everyone else is blind because they've chosen to be blind -- as the singer says, "No one else would see her."

But the girl is not troubled by her affliction.  The singer has been cured of his blindness, and the girl in the wheelchair has been cured of her disability as well -- she has discovered that she has wings, and can fly.

In the third verse, the singer meets a young man contemplating suicide -- or, in the words of the song, "contemplating freedom":

Met a kid on a bridge last night
Contemplating freedom
Met a kid on a bridge last night
And he said
"I'm tired of this maddening life
And I'm ready to go meet Jesus"
And I said 
"He's a friend of mine
Met him just last night"

The chorus that follows each of the song's three verses is simple but powerful:

I'll live this life 
Until this life 
Won't let me live here anymore
Then I will walk 
Yes, I will walk
With patience through that open door
I have no fears, 
Angels follow me wherever I may go
I live this life 
Until this life
Won't let me live here anymore

I wish that I could join the singer and say that "I have no fears."  Unfortunately, I'm a long way from there.  And to be perfectly honest, my fears may be increasing in strength as I get older -- not diminishing.  I guess I need to work on that. 

Here's "Live That Life":

Click here to buy the song from Amazon:

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