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Writing on The Wall

Writing on The Wall

By Kristen Thompson, Associate Coordinator, Bluegrass Writers Studio

     In the last few posts, I’ve been reflecting on the selective nature of memory and how songs can play a part (ba-dump tish) in how things link together in our minds.

     I still remember the first time I heard Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2) on the radio. My sister and I were going to spend the night at my aunt Sue’s. After picking us up, she stopped for takeout, leaving the car radio on for us. When she got back in she said, “Oh, this is a good one” and turned the radio up luxuriously louder than it was ever allowed at my house. It was clear this song was to be listened to, not talked over.

     I can picture the shade of darkness out the windows and the reflection of the headlights curving in the storefront window as the lyrics hit me like a ton of bricks: “We don’t need no education! We don’t need no thought control!” There’s nothing more powerful than the scholastic ire of a third-grader.

     It’s as if the song built some sort of snow globe around the moment. All the other car rides, all the other storefronts have faded. But that moment persists actively in my mind. I can’t tell you what food she picked up, what her apartment was like, or what we did that weekend. But I know the car seats were blue cloth, wall to wall, the inside of the door panel velvety, just right for that song. “Hey! Teacher! Leave them kids alone!”

     Lyrics seem to be the one way writing reaches everyone. People who don’t read books – people with no education, in fact – are exposed to writers every day. Radios are standard in every vehicle, thanks to Blaupunkt and Studebaker. Music is piped into grocery stores and blared from speakers at every public event. TV (MTV aside) is filled with shows where people sing their little hearts out. 

     There’ll always be a mind-numbing Gangnam Style Macarena Electric Slide clogging the airwaves. But for every PSY there is an equal and opposite Coldplay, for every Ylvis a John Legend. Lyres may now be few and far between, but lyrics persist.

     Cheers to the songwriters. Keep them coming.

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Kristen Thompson

Published on July 22, 2014

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