The human being is the only one capable of expressing and sharing his ideas, his thoughts and even adopting a philosophy through language and art. Above all, this last aspect of wisdom is what, roughly, defines what is strictly human. In a broader sense, philosophy can provide a better understanding of what and where the soul is. Questions about existence, being, destiny, and life have been generated throughout history at the level of this field.
Music is also a search and constant questioning. Here are 10 songs that you have surely heard many times without stopping to think about the thoughts that, deep down, could unleash, philosophical songs that you did not know could teach you valuable lessons about life, identity, and death.
Imagine – John Lennon
This classic has established itself as an aesthetic and symbolic canon in collective culture on a global scale. It is a legitimate exercise of peace, a call for love, and an exhortation to imagine not only a better version of the world but also of society. Get out of your comfort zone and rethink humanity and what surrounds it, a philosophical act in the best sense of the word.
You Can’t Always Get What You Want – The Rolling Stones
In You Can’t Always Get What You Want, Jagger says that you can’t always have what you want, he is confronted with the Queen song, which said: I want it all and right now. Well, both songs talk about desire, something crucial in philosophy. Because philosophy immediately realized that a good part of suffering had its origin in desires. For that, to defeat them or keep them at bay, Epicurus classified them as necessary, natural, and neither necessary nor natural. Example: it would be necessary to eat, of course; but it would be unnecessary to eat too much, a banquet every day. And among the desires neither natural nor necessary, power, riches, positions. Curiously, all those that make us unhappier.
Like a Rolling Stone – Bob Dylan
It is a story of boom and bust. It is closely related to fortune, the Stoics… The Romans in general had the goddess fortune very present, they represented her with a cornucopia in one hand and a rudder rod in the other. “Fortune gives us nothing which we can really own”, said Seneca. In other words, what good luck gives you today, tomorrow it can be taken away. It is something that should not be lost sight of now that the idea of failing presses us so much because there are no gods: not all successes are entirely ours, nor are failures either. Fortune rules.
Man in the Mirror – Michael Jackson
This song is the quintessential philosophical exercise. The man before his own mirror. If you want to change the world, look at yourself and make that change. From the outset Michael Jackson starts with a very philosophical approach, he says that he is talking to the man in the mirror, and what is it to think if not to dialogue with oneself. And then it poses an old philosophical dilemma: whether to change oneself or change society. His answer is that if you want to make the world a better place, start by changing yourself. It is a criterion of this century that has placed its hopes, no longer in revolutions or ideologies, but in individual change, hence the rise of personal development and self-help.
Pride – U2
It is a tribute to Martin Luther King. It sounds like a love song, but it’s a very political and very ethical song. It talks about acts of generosity in the name of love and basic sacrifice, which is giving your life for your ideas. He also mentions two of the four cardinal virtues: justice, temperance, fortitude, and wisdom. Here we speak of justice and strength converted into courage: in that courage that for Aristotle consisted of being brave, not running into danger, because that would be reckless or avoiding it, that is cowardly. For Aristotle, you know, the virtues, are always, in the middle ground.
Another Brick in the Wall – Pink Floyd
“Another Brick in the Wall” is a three-part song that totals nearly eight and a half minutes in length. The second section is the best known, beginning with the emblematic phrase “We don’t need no education.” Written by Roger Waters, it is part of the conceptual album “The Wall” from 1979, where the experiences of a fictional rocker named Pink are narrated. Section number two is taken as a criticism of formal education and the structure of schools, which limit the freedom of thought and creativity of students. The “brick in the wall”, however, was interpreted and reinterpreted in different ways and in different contexts. The song does not only talk about the educational institution but the philosophy of the human mind, like being born intelligent but education has taken control of how you think and how you do things. We need education, that’s a fact, but not in its current format.
I Walk the Line – Johnny Cash
Cash began working on this song while in Germany, in the Air Force, years before he entered a studio. After the success of “Folsom Prison Blues,” he returned to it, but the original tape had been warped. But he liked the strange sound that was left. He added a click-clack sound to it by putting rolled-up tracing paper over the guitar strings. Sam Phillips of Sun Records asked him to speed it up to give it a thunderous forcefulness. “It’s unlike anything you’ve ever heard,” Bob Dylan told Rolling Stone. The voice comes from the Earth itself.”
A Change Is Gonna Come – Sam Cooke
In 1963, Cooke, America’s first great soul singer and one of the most successful artists with 18 Top 30 hits since 1957, heard a song that inspired and deeply disturbed him: “Blowin’ in the Wind” by Bob Dylan. What surprised Cooke was the challenge implicit in Dylan’s anthem. “My God,” he mused, “did a white boy write a song like that?” Cooke’s response, “A Change Is Gonna Come,” recorded on January 30, 1964, with a sumptuous orchestral arrangement by Rene Hall, was more personal, both in its first-person account and in the experiences that preceded it. On October 8, 1963, while on tour, Cooke and members of his entourage were arrested in Louisiana for disturbing the peace after they attempted to check into an all-white hotel. This incident is reflected in the song’s third verse, and Cooke’s mourning for his 18-month-old son Vincent, who drowned in June of that year, echoes in the last line: “There have been times that I thought I couldn’t last for long. But now I think I’m able to carry on. Nearly a year after recording it, Cooke was shot to death in a Los Angeles hotel. Two weeks later, “A Change Is Gonna Come” was released, which became his farewell and an anthem of the civil rights movement.
All Things Must Pass – George Harrison
The year 1970 was, without a doubt, the most prolific in the history related to The Beatles. Paradoxically, it was also the most bitter due to the announcement of the break that Paul McCartney made official in April. In addition to Let it Be, the last published work of the quartet, a total of five titles were published that year as soloists: Ringo Starr’s Sentimental Journey and Beaucoups of Blue; McCartney I; John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band; and Harrison’s All Things Must Pass. Harrison himself considered it a “Robbie Robertson” type song, with that amalgamation of voices that made Dylan’s group famous, and thus it was tested with moderate success by the Beatles in January 1969. By far Harrison’s unreleased track that was more on the verge of being released by the Fab Four, McCartney and Lennon made a good attempt at imitating The Band, remained unreleased until this LP Its biblical lyrics, inspired by Timothy Leary, had collaboration from Lennon: he told him to change “wind” to “mind” to make the meaning more “psychedelic”. In perfect irony with its fatalistic lyrics, it was the last song Harrison played live before he died.
Blowin’ in the Wind – Bob Dylan
Composed in a very short time, while he was in a cafe, the song included in the fundamental album The Freewheelin’, catapulted the popularity of the hitherto unknown singer-songwriter. In addition, it was related to the fight for civil rights and the desire for change typical of the young people of the time, which prompted the musician to be classified as a “protest” creator. An immeasurable legend that today takes on transcendental relevance. Not only is he the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature (surprising the most knowledgeable) but his legacy from the 1960s marked a before and after in music, surpassing the rhythmic to portray the reality of each human being. immersed in their particular circumstances. Poetry as music, orthodoxy as a frontier overcome, music as a living vehicle that surpasses all will-o’-the-wisps and intellectualisms.