Tuesday, November 06, 2012

SONGS I LIKE - The Wall (Kansas)

Gold and diamonds cast a spell, it's not for me I know it well
The riches that I seek are waiting on the other side

Kansas is one of the art/progressive rock bands that showed up in the 70s after Yes and Pink Floyd.  Although Yes is the greatest of these bands, Emerson Lake and Palmer, King Crimson, Gentle Giant and others put out some great work and Kansas was very good as well.
Kansas had some of the most profound, thought-provoking, and meaningful songs any popular music group has ever attempted, wrapped in complex, unusual music for the rock genre.  Combining jazz, classical music, and rock they created something unique, and enduring with songs such as "Dust In The Wind" and "Carry On My Wayward Son" are still in heavy rotation today.
"The Wall" is off the album Leftoverture which is considered by many to be their best effort.  It is one of those discs you play and can't find a bad song on, and belongs in any proper collection of rock albums.  The song deals with decision points and impediments in life, times when you face a challenge and have to find an answer.
The writer (Kerry Livgren) likens these moments to traveling along a path and coming to a wall in your way.  You can by pass the wall by going around (or over or under) it, you can try to smash through the wall, or you can stop, even turn around and go back where you came from.  But The Wall changes everything and forces you to deal with it in some way.
And life is full of these barriers, times when you face a moment when you have to change to face the world around you.  It can be a new relationship, a personal health issue, a world event, it can be something as simple as a car not starting or as complex as a new baby.
For the singer, The Wall blocks out his dreams and hopes, and he longs for what is beyond it.  The riches and desires of life mean nothing for him, only what lies beyond that wall.  And the fact that Livgren later became a Christian suggests a spiritual significance to "The Wall" beyond mere troubles in life.
Sometimes songs are great without understanding what they say - and become less so when you hear how vapid or stupid the lyrics are.  Sometimes they become even greater, and this is one of those songs.
I'm woven in a fantasy, I can't believe the things I see
The path that I have chosen now has led me to a wall
And with each passing day I feel a little
more like something dear was lost
It rises now before me, a dark and silent barrier between
All I am, and all that I would ever want be
It's just a travesty, towering, marking
off the boundaries my spirit would erase

To pass beyond is what I seek, I fear that I may be too weak
And those are few who've seen it through to glimpse the other side,
The promised land is waiting like a maiden that is soon to be a bride
The moment is a masterpiece, the weight of indecision's in the air
It's standing there, the symbol and the sum of all that's me
It's just a travesty, towering, blocking out the light and blinding me
I want to see

Gold and diamonds cast a spell, it's not for me I know it well
The riches that I seek are waiting on the other side
There's more that I can measure in the treasure of the love that I can find
And though it's always been with me, I must tear down the Wall and let it be
All I am, and all that I was ever meant to be, in harmony
Shining true and smiling back at all who wait to cross
There is no loss.

This is part of the Songs I Like series.

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