I love listening to music while I’m doing other things, like working or driving. Music can tell stories, it can make you feel, and sometimes it can make you think. I was driving my family to my in-laws’ house this week and heard The Logical Song by Supertramp and was inspired to write about it.
The Logical Song was released on Supertramp’s album Breakfast in America in March 1979. It was also their biggest hit. The song was mostly written by Roger Hodgson about his experience of being sent away to boarding school when he was young. I think it applies to all of us, whether we went to a boarding school or just the regular public school in town.
When I was young it seemed that life was so wonderful, a miracle, oh it was beautiful, magical.
When we are young, before we start school, we are full of wonder and creativity as we learn about the world around us. We use our imagination to create amazing worlds with only a few cardboard boxes, a handful of toy cars in a sandbox, or a toy tea set and a pile of stuffed animals.
But then they sent me away to teach me how to be sensible, logical, oh responsible, practical.
And then they showed me a world where I could be so dependable, oh clinical, oh intellectual, cynical.
When we are old enough we get sent to school and our “formal education” begins. As we progress through our school years there is less and less creative, right-brained activity and more and more logical, left-brained instruction. Eventually, the creative activity is gone completely. The school system trains you for one thing, to get a job.
Don’t get me wrong. I love math, history and a lot of the other subjects. I believe they are vitally important. They aren’t all that is important though. Music, art and drama are equally as important. They provide balance for all of the left-brained work and they are where those left brained activities can actually be applied. Knowing how to count to four is valuable, but it takes on a whole new meaning when you see it show up in music as four beats to a measure. Learning what ratios are in math is good, but when you see how to use them to create paintings or sculpture they mean more and will stick with you a lot longer.
Expected Life as an Adult
I said, watch what you say. They’ll be calling you a radical, a liberal, oh fanatical, criminal.
Oh won’t you sign up your name, we’d like to feel your acceptable, oh presentable, a vegetable.
When we leave school and become adults we are expected to do what every other adult does – get a job, go to work every day, pay bills, get a gym membership, and have kids so that they can start the cycle all over again. If you do anything outside of that you are considered strange and people want to fix you. You aren’t “acceptable.”
Actually, the song verses remind me very strongly of Pink Floyd’s The Wall where the main character goes through school and has all of these other experiences that build up this wall inside of himself that prevents him from being who he really is. His case gets worse until he eventually cracks.
How It All Changes
The chorus in The Logical Song is the key point of the song:
There are times when all the world’s asleep, when questions run too deep for such a simple man.
Won’t you please, please tell me what we’ve learned. I know it sounds absurd. Please tell me who I am.
At night when your mind can finally run free from all of the constraints of the day you start to question if you are really on the right path. “Am I really doing what I should?”, “Am I happy?” and “Who am I?”
Some people suppress it, some go crazy, while others go on a search. I’m one of the latter. I became dissatisfied with working, went to massage school, started a network marketing business and eventually quit my job to live my life as I wanted to. Most important to me, I wanted to actually be a part of raising my kids, which you can’t do if you spend ten or more hours away from home everyday working to build someone else’s dream.
That’s what was right for me. It isn’t for everyone. The point is that everyone needs to question what they were taught and figure out what there correct path is, despite what society tells you it should be. If your path is to work at Walmart then I am very thankful for your service. It’s a lot easier to find what I need if there is someone stocking the shelves and running the cash register. If your path is to be a painter or an inventor, someone with a more creative energy, then I look forward to seeing what you create. If you are a blogger then I want to connect and learn what is working for you. We don’t all have to be vegetables with the same path and sensibilities.
If you are not familiar with The Logical Song, you can listen to it on YouTube here:
So, what do you think about this? Am I right or way off base? Let me know in a comment below.