Today’s Song I Kinda Hate

It’s this one:

Why do I hate it? Basically because it sounds like someone listened to “Everything is Awesome” from The LEGO Movie, didn’t realize the song was being played for irony in that film (possibly because the film had, you know, LEGO), and strove to recreate the song’s valorization of a mediocre existence here in the real world without so much as a hint of self-awareness. I mean, for fuck’s sake, the lyrics in the chorus are:

Can’t complain about much these days, I believe we’ll be okay…
We’re screaming out, I believe we’ll be okay.

Really? That’s what we’re screaming out? Unless we’ve just fallen six stories out of an open window and are letting our terrified family members know we’re still alive, the hell we are. Having an okay existence, pretty much by definition, is not worth screaming about. Winning the lottery? Scream away. Been proposed to by the person that you want to spend the rest of your life with? Totally screamworthy. New puppy? Scream your heart out. Your life is okay? That’s an indifferent shrug. At best.

Which is why the song bugs the crap out of me: It’s like the national anthem of lowered expectations. Your uplifting chorus is “I can’t complain”? What the hell is wrong with you? Please show us on the doll where life kicked the shit out of you so damn hard that being okay is a cause for unreasonable celebration. This is the summer song for the emotionally dead inside.

Or worse than that —

(turns off the lights, turns on flashlight underneath chin for spooky, paranoid effect)

— it’s a song specifically designed to define down what you should be expecting out of life. Things being great? Yeah, that’s a little much for right now. Maybe you should scale it back, friend. Be okay with okay — no, scratch that: Be ecstatic about okay! Scream it out! Wheeee! Life is marginally better than entirely full of suck! Have a beer!

(turns off flashlight, turns lights back on)

Seriously. Fuck this song. Fuck being okay. I deserve better than okay. So do you.

(Shakes cane, shoos this band off his lawn)

80 Comments on “Today’s Song I Kinda Hate”

  1. I live in a Western country where I access to food, shelter, and clean water. YEAAAAH! USA! USA! USA!

  2. There are ways to celebrate small victories (cue Garnet Rogers) without being forced to be ecstatic about barely scraping by.

    As a band performing in this round of bread and circuses, they are really missing the “circus” part of the entertainment factor. Although to be fair, Bland Lion and It’s Not So Bad Clown might be an interesting side-show act.

  3. I didn’t think twice about the song before, but this blog post made me snort Coke Zero onto my keyboard. “Show me on the doll…” Holy crap. Too funny.

  4. I love Whatever posts best when John is in the middle of a big writing project.:)

  5. “I’m wide awake, so what’s the point of dreaming?”
    *takes headphones off, sets them down, backs slooooooowly away from the computer*

  6. Please show us on the doll where life kicked the shit out of you so damn hard that being okay is a cause for unreasonable celebration…

    If that’s a genuine request, please let me know via the eMail address associated with this comment.

  7. I know what I’m shouting out, in my themesong, as heatwave LegoLand is attacked by wind-driven wildfires, and everyone’s being hit with blazing embers splashed with flame retardant:
    Stockholm Syndrome
    Jonathan Vos Post

    I gratefully accept this Nobel Prize
    on behalf of all women, and all men,
    all children, animals, automata
    who escaped from abuse, over and over again,
    with those deposed to persona non grata,
    whom you, at your peril, decriminalize.

    How did he do this, until my great escape?
    What are the axiom-commandments of doom?
    The monster takes a very pleasing shape,
    wears the attractive pass-for-man costume,
    smiles, rictus, at each cruel punch line.
    You bind yourself with his duct tape,
    and lock yourself in his torture room.
    Accept your fate, through statutory rape.

    He is God-Emperor, thou shalt have no other
    gods before him. Renounce your kin.
    They were enemies. He saved you from them then.
    Take it up the ass. Take it on the chin.
    He is smarter than everyone, your brother,
    mother, father, teacher, preacher, cops,
    it shall go on until he says it stops.
    Minions are stupid, must be reminded
    until they accept it all, Original Sin,
    cover their own eyes until self-blinded
    and cannot see His mighty dorsal fin.

    I was the Jekyll, he was the Hyde
    Behold his brain, pickled in formaldehyde.

    5 Sep 2009

  8. John, thanks so much for this! I laughed my ass off here at work to the point where my co-workers were giving me funny looks! “Show me on the doll…” was the bit that really got me. My hat is off to you sir, you most certainly know how to rant!

  9. Though a bit more “poppy” than their usual fare, I enjoy the message in “Ain’t it fun” by Paramore.
    Suck it jovenes. Life is work and tough and nobody’s going to hand it to you.
    And growing up is unstoppable…as much as I still think I am 22.
    Then again, I wouldn’t change my own path through life and the experiences that have brought me to where I am today.

  10. Well, it’s a point-of-view thing. I’ve had periods in my life when if I wasn’t in screaming pain, yeah, I’d want to shout about it. Not that I had the energy at that point… But sometimes having nothing to complain about is a pretty big deal.

  11. Gee thanks John. I just saw the Lego movie recently and it’s taken me a week to get that song out of my head. A WEEK!!! Not to mention my husband and I now habitually greet each other with “Honey, where are my paaants?”. And now I have the song in my head ALL OVER AGAIN!

    *Flounces off in a huff. Singing…*

  12. Maybe a generational thing. Young people are so screwed by debt and underemployment that “okay” is about where it tops out.

  13. After listening to this song, I’m gonna go watch Game of Thrones clips on YouTube. Now there’s some people who aren’t singing about how great their lives are!

  14. *raises hand* Younger generation here. That song is more than a little air-headed, but it doesn’t set off any alarm bells in me.

    To be honest being “okay” seems like a very reasonable thing to celebrate considering the very visible insecurity in our present and near-future. It’s not as if many of us can celebrate things going swimmingly (yet!).

    From my own close circle of friends (about two-dozen folks, almost all recent graduates) only one has a good, career job that pays well enough that they might be able to get on the property ladder in a few years time (i.e. the trappings of our parents and grandparents). The rest are in jobs that barely or don’t meet expenses; or are unemployed; or are re-enlisting in higher education because they’ve run out of ideas.

    When multiple graduates from Good-to-Very Good universities are scrambling for the same minimum-wage, part-time position working in a Garden Centre, you know things aren’t quite right.

    Things have certainly been worse, yes. Today’s “bad” is laughably privileged when you consider how things were going back only a few decades. But it’s ultimately about expectations. I was part of a generation that spent it’s entire conscious life living in boom times, only to suddenly to have their ideas of what our future looked-like reconstructed just as we passed or approached adulthood.

    From where I’m standing it’s eminently understandable that some artists riff off the vibe of celebrating whatever the heck we have to hand now. We’re hella nervous about the future, that’s for sure. I mean things could get worse, couldn’t they? They did before.

    Personally, I’m hopeful and optimistic with regards to humanity as a whole – but more than a little scared for myself.

  15. I have to disagree with you a bit on the “Everything is Awesome”. It was played for irony, but it was also played straight up, when Emmet helps the rebellious outsiders learn the value of teamwork. The movie is a textbook example of the Hegelian dialectic, with the hero emerging from the conflict between conformity and anarchy, finding value and fault in both viewpoints.

  16. Well, whatever the name of your next band will be, I believe “The National Anthem of Lowered Expectations” should be its first hit single.

  17. I sympathize, slightly. I temped for 2 years, and it sucked, but we got our food from a bank, standing in line, topay our debt off. Life ia always hard. Taanstaaf

  18. I learned a long time ago: any day where you’re not being shot at is a good day. Doesn’t mean you sing about it, however…

  19. I haven’t heard the song, but damn I appreciate your cri de couer, your barbaric yawp. I come from a background where okay is really the best they hoped for, and okay was to be clung to. While it worked fine for one of my parents, the other was an anxious wreck. And my sib and I haven’t achieved much because we never learned to aim for terrific, yet we weren’t satisfied with okay. Still working on it. It’s gratifying to see these feelings articulated from others, too. Thanks.

  20. Can’t say much for this song, but I do like “Everything is Awesome” because of the way it works perfectly in both opposite tones — as a song loaded with irony but also as a song that means exactly what it sounds like and is infectious and funny and appealing (and my kids love it). It has a deliberate duality that doesn’t often happen :)

  21. I think you missed the really salient line: “I’m wide awake/ so what’s the point of dreaming/ when your life is great/ celebrate the feeling”

    I am ever so glad that their life is so blanking great that they don’t need to dream of better things.

  22. This is why I listen to instrumental post-rock. No lyrics to get mad at.

    Here, have some:

  23. Easy to criticize, not as easy to create. Can you give us instead a suggestion of a song you created that is better, or another contemporary song that we should listen to instead?

  24. It’s actually kind of catchy and… … … OW! OW! OW! OW! GET IT OUT OF MY HEAD!!!!!!!

  25. dpmaine, “inability to create” ≠ “may not critique”.

    I will never be a ballerina, I simply do not have the physical ability, however that doesn’t mean I can’t tell the difference between a good dance performance and a bad one. I may not be able to critique to the same level of detail as one who does dance but I can differentiate nonetheless. Likewise I am no author (a category with arguably more subjective assessment criteria) but I can most certainly competently debate the quality and meaning of a piece of writing.

  26. I hear what you’re saying @Jo Pearson, but I think it’s telling this song isn’t a soulful, plaintive ballad or even an angry, fuckitall shout – it’s an anthem, a marching song. Marching songs are all about walking in lock step and staying on message. Beware…

    (This concludes Spooky Warnings from Tired Geezers)

  27. Reminds me of a bad book I read where the person compared her marriage to a linoleum floor. Wait, what? That’s the foundation of your marriage, linoleum flooring?

  28. “Your life is okay? That’s an indifferent shrug. At best.”

    I aim higher as best I can, but ‘okay’, for some of us, is something to be grateful for. It sucks but a lot of people would give anything to get to ‘okay’.

  29. I love you. In a totally non-stalkery way. But yes. I have friends, lovely, wonderful, talented friends, who have been crushed into believing that they should be going thank you thank you thank you every minute that their lives are not actively shitty, when they deserve so much more.

  30. Dpmaine:

    “Easy to criticize, not as easy to create.”

    False (and lazy) dichotomy; criticism is in itself a creative act, and speaking as someone who has been a professional critic for decades, a cogent piece of criticism is not necessarily easy to write.

    Likewise, the common (and also lazy) position that in order to criticize a thing, one should be able to create a thing is silly. Criticism, while creative, is born of a different set of skills than, say, music writing. While one person may have an overlap of skills, and independently those overlaps may be useful in criticism, having that overlap is neither necessary nor sufficient to be a critic.

    Additionally, while I certainly can give you an example of a contemporary song I consider superior, I won’t, because a) I’ve already invalidated your initial argument, b) it wouldn’t be necessary in any event in order for the criticism to be valid. My criticisms of this song are independent of the qualities of any other song; no “instead” is required or even necessarily invited.

    Now, if you had simply asked me for examples of what I considered a successful uplifting anthem, without fronting a questionable argument of no good utility, I might have done that. But you didn’t, so.

  31. In about three decades, rock and roll went from: “I stand next to a mountain… and chop it down, with the edge of my hand” [Jimi Hendrix]

    to: “I never meant to cause you trouble” [Coldplay]

    This song is less inspiring than early Coldplay, which is really saying something. And at least Coldplay were trying to write whiny ballads about how sad life is, not celebrate mediocrity.

  32. I don’t want to defend this song too much, but just a thought:
    “I deserve better than okay.” – I believe this is called ‘entitlement’ ;-) – the “So do you.” notwithstanding. I too believe, everyone deserves better than okay; I believe it would even be possible if … well a lot of ifs. But for many, possibly most people on earth being just okay is or would be something to be happy about. I wish I was okay.

  33. Thanks for this, John. I endured the foul-tasting tequila shot that was this song, and immediately followed it up with the refreshing lime wedges that are “Bravado” by Rush, and “We Are the Champions” by Queen. Because I needed some GENUINELY uplifting songs, and these ones always do the trick.

    Bloody hell, does it pain me that celebrating mediocrity is something people aspire to these days.

  34. @Thomas Hewlitt >>> I hear what you’re saying @Jo Pearson, but I think it’s telling this song isn’t a soulful, plaintive ballad or even an angry, fuckitall shout – it’s an anthem, a marching song. Marching songs are all about walking in lock step and staying on message. Beware…

    (This concludes Spooky Warnings from Tired Geezers) <<<

    I've never seen that type of categorisation before. It's an interesting distinction to make.

    I'm not sure it makes much of a difference so long as you're aware of the implicit message, don't buy into it, and are wary of how it might influence your perspective down the road.

    It's the same reason I have little problem signing Eminem lyrics at friends' parties despite his misogyny, self-aggrandisement and homophobia (and I have a unusually 'queer' set of friends). Ultimately you can still enjoy the songs energy, even if it doesn't express your own perspective, and even if that dissonance makes you feel uneasy. I'm glad to feel that uneasiness, because it shows I'm paying conscious attention to negative stimuli; it means I haven't dropped my guard.

    I definitely don't agree with the song. But I can see how it might have been made the way it was. Especially given the historical context it was created in (and of course that's only potentially relevant). The song makes me roll my eyes, but it doesn't make me angry.

    Not everyone can be as wise and intelligent as Jaden Smith.

  35. Having spent a good 40+ years being suicidally depressed most of the time I did celebrate every day that was ok/I wasn’t suicidal. Post being hit by an 18-wheel truck I’m no longer suicidal & yeah for the first few months I celebrated the heck out of “ok”. And some days when I start getting depressed I’m still amazed I don’t go suicidal.

    Every day I have some energy/a break from my chronic fatigue/fibromyalgia I celebrate being “ok”. It’s wonderful to be able to do normal things unfortunately since 2001 the longest the chronic fatigue has given me a break has been 3 months and that has happened maybe twice… Once ending when I was hit by the truck in 2012.

    Getting over PTSD from multiple rapes and abuse as a child would be fantastic & hey I’d then be “ok” & yep I’d celebrate the heck out of that.

    For some of us that have health problems, have been abused (due to gender/race/sexual orientation/etc.), don’t have some of the privileges others do we just might have good reason to celebrate being alive & ok.

    I’d celebrate being able to doing what I was doing in my 20s: working 40-60 hours a week, going out with friends, participating in housework. It sure would beat being bedridden, having flashbacks, being afraid of people, and only leaving the house to see doctors. I dream about being able to work 20 hours/week from home, picking up some housework, and leaving the house to grocery shop. Big dreams exhaust me. I don’t need or want big dreams. I just want I life that isn’t full of pain and in a bed and at 47 I think I’ve lived enough to know that’s an ok dream.

  36. JS–

    “False (and lazy) dichotomy; criticism is in itself a creative act, and speaking as someone who has been a professional critic for decades, a cogent piece of criticism is not necessarily easy to write.”

    Yes, agree a cogent piece of criticism is not necessarily easy to write.

    “Seriously. Fuck this song. Fuck being okay. I deserve better than okay. So do you.”

    That’s the hill you want to go to battle on? That “fuck this song” is your creative act of the day?

    You have invalidated nothing except that you just posted to your many followers a nasty piece of criticism that has no real purpose except to tell us “fuck this song” and how it’s no good. Why go out of your way to take something down which is airy and light and not-serious?

    You have a great songwriter like Mitch Collins who gets stereotyped as a tattoo’d jerk and you want to stand by your criticism which amounts to “i don’t like it”, but rude?

    Saying “I have a right to say it” is the weakest form of defense. Yes, you have a right to any criticism you want. It is not literally illegal for you to make this criticism and have this opinion.

    But it’s still a jerk thing to do.

  37. Please show us on the doll where life kicked the shit out of you so damn hard that being okay is a cause for unreasonable celebration. – May I please borrow that for a book? ;-)

  38. dpmaine:

    “You have invalidated nothing”

    Wrong yet again, dpmaine. Your previous, general argument regarding criticism and creativity was entirely invalidated; indeed, you conceded at least one point. You are now making a new argument, to wit: My criticism of this song is not one you appreciate. To which my response is: Oh, well. Deal with it.

    This is, incidentally, one reason why you are not generally interesting to argue with: You can’t (or don’t) actually keep track of what you’re saying, when you are saying it, or at the very least, presume I can’t. This is not a new phenomenon for you.

    “Why go out of your way to take something down which is airy and light and not-serious?”

    Leaving aside that none of those adjectives excuses or mitigates “banal” and “lyrically febrile,” interestingly enough, the “why” is amply covered in the entry. Go back. Read slower and for comprehension this time.

    Also, with regard to Mitch Collins, I certainly don’t know that he’s a great songwriter, on the basis of this song. On the basis of this song, which is the only song of his I’m aware of knowing, in fact, I would rate him as a very poor songwriter. I certainly do hope he writes better songs than this one, because this one blows.

    Dpmaine, what your (new) (not especially interesting) argument boils down to is “whaaaaaaaaah, you’re mean.” To which I respond: So what? In my opinion, “mean” is what this terrible song about depressingly low expectations deserves. You are free to disagree. Bear in mind that I am the sort of person who collects and enjoys negative reviews of his own work, so “negative” isn’t something I necessarily get worked up about, and I have in my site disclaimer warnings about what to expect about fair and nice. You would do well to consider these points for the future.

    But do it somewhere else, because I’m already tired of you on this thread. Off you go, dpmaine.

  39. Every year, on my birthday, I play ‘Another One Bites the Dust’ very, very loudly and do my best to actually dance along with it, and when I’ve recovered from that I play ‘We Are the Champions’, also very, very loudly and do my best to dance along with that too. If the gods are feeling benevolent then I move on to ‘Staying Alive’, though I counsel against Elton John’s ‘I’m still standing’ because the video is totally terrifying, and not in a good way.

    Last year I spent 8 weeks in respiratory rehab with the sole purpose of improving the length of time I could dance without being attached to an oxygen cylinder, which I’m told is an unusual ambition for people doing respiratory rehab, but all parties are happy with that.

    One of the myriad reasons I don’t like this song is because shouting requires lung power, and if I’m going to expend that lung power on shouting it’s going to be about something rather more exciting than being OK because I can’t think of much to complain about.

    I may be a physical wreck but my mind has not deteriorated to the point where thinking of things to complain about looks like a good way of spending my time; instead I’m going to listen to Ian Dury and the Blockheads doing ‘Reasons to be Cheerful Part 3’.

    It’s brilliant…

  40. I initially read “dpmaine” as “dopamine” and it kinda made sense. :)

    I’m getting a Joe Walsh earworm off this discussion:
    “Lucky I’m sane after all I’ve been through
    I can’t complain, but sometimes I still do.”

    *That’s* the way to do it.

  41. Personally, I think the song would be much better ripped in half. Stick those lyrics with a chorus about contentment (rather than “screaming out, I believe we’ll be okay”*) that could work. However, stick that upbeat chorus onto a song with lyrics about recovery and healing? That could be a really good and powerful song. As with most music and art, you can read that into it if you want. However, as it stands, the song really does feel more like “indoctrinating the masses into accepting mediocrity” (probably unintentionally) rather than some powerful statement to me.

    * Also, the philosopher/logician in me just gets rubbed the wrong way even more with the screaming out not that we ARE okay, but the we BELIEVE that we WILL be okay. Can we add some more qualifiers onto that?? How about screaming out that I guess we possibly might eventually be briefly close to okay enough… I think? :)

  42. I think “okay” actually is worth celebrating, but this song is a terrible way to do it. The lyrics are smug and shallow, and kind of — thoughtless. I feel like it’s lecturing me sternly for daring to dream of better, rather than encouraging me by pointing out what’s good now.

    Plus, it doesn’t really have a tune. It has the ingratiating shoutiness of a cheerleading chant. So, it’s sort of catchy, but too irritating to be embraced.

    Now I have to go listen to Louis Armstrong sing “What a Wonderful World.”

  43. For a different kind of affirmation, What’s Good, by Lou Reed. This video really does justice to lines like “Life’s like Sanskrit read to a pony”, too.

    This is a very high-brow kind of muddling through. :)

  44. This song, oddly, put me in mind of one of my favorite anecdotes. The story goes that during the Loma Prieta earthquake, a woman (I think it was a woman) rushed home to her apartment in the Mission district – one of the hardest hit areas. She had several large parrots, including a Cockatoo, and she was worried for them.

    The apartment was fine as were the birds. At least physically. She hadn’t locked the wheels on the cage of said cockatoo before leaving for work. As a result, the cage had been shaken about pretty good, rolling across the room from it’s usual spot.

    When she got into the apartment, the poor bird was screaming at the top of his bird voice “YOU’RE OKAY! YOU’RE OKAY!” It seems that when the bird got upset over something (and cockatoos can be fairly easy to upset) she would soothe him by saying ‘you’re okay” over and over again until he was calm. He was,desperately trying to self medicate, for lack of a better term.

    To this day, in mock panic situations, several of my friends will now start mimicking the bird, saying to each other or ourselves – you’re okay! you’re okay! Now it seems we have an anthem…

  45. Whatever. A major lesson I learned in the transition from early 20’s to late 30’s is that snobbery is a fool’s game. There are no such things as low-brow entertainment or guilty pleasures; there’re just entertainment and pleasures. This song’s not necessarily my cup of tea, but it seems pretty innocuous. What’s wrong with sitting on your porch on a warm summer day with beer in hand, grinning at simply being content? This song basically expresses the exact same sentiment as The Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feelin'”, which is one of the greatest pop songs of the last decade. Chill old man, and smell the roses.

  46. The song reminds me of the recent Maxwell House ad campaign touting “We’ve forgotten how Good Good is.” Really? THAT”S your lead in? If you haven’t seen this commercial, look it up on Tubes of You or somewhere. Wow…

  47. Aging involves diminished expectations, which can also happen with younger folks who must accommodate themselves to personal tragedies. If a young healthy singer screams out a fantasy of an ‘OK’, before any tragedies have even hits her, it is, to me, something of an insult to the joy of life as all should desire.

    In my personal life, we all loved a younger woman at our barn, so full of the joy of life. She died awhile back of cancer after 5 years of unbelievable fighting. Her first joy, I remember, was being flushed after riding our fastest barn horse at breakneck speeds. Her last joy (-request) was to smell the scents around the barn. (I had to go to unbelievable extremes to remove a stinky goat, but that’s another story). In her way she ‘screamed’ even ecstatically, for each joy of life; and her diminished expectations over time still brings tears to my eyes.

    I don’t understand the lyrics of that song very well and can’t play it where I am. I do hope we all try to look for the best achievable joys in what life, where they are, to be given.

  48. Great story, Kathryne! The word you were looking for is “self-soothe.” I’m impressed that the bird could do that.

  49. Matt W:

    “A major lesson I learned in the transition from early 20′s to late 30′s is that snobbery is a fool’s game.”

    Ah, but, see. It’s not automatically snobbery to not like something; that’s a rookie error. Also, I don’t dislike the song for snobbish reasons — I dislike it because I think it fails at what it is trying to do. I don’t think it succeeds as being an innocuous song of contentment; its aims for it but falls well short of the mark. For me it’s a song about settling, and as I said before, the hell with that.

    “This song basically expresses the exact same sentiment as The Black Eyed Peas’ ‘I Gotta Feelin’’, which is one of the greatest pop songs of the last decade.”

    One, no it doesn’t, unless you equate “okay” with “good” — which most people don’t; in general parlance, “okay” is understood be less desirable than “good.” Do you want an okay beer or a good one? Would you like an okay night or a good one? And so on. Two, even if we were to grant that the sentiment is the same, execution matters. By your standard here, I couldn’t gripe about lousy burger at McDonald’s because it’s “basically the same” as an In-N-Out Double-Double, animal style. And, yeah: No.

    “Chill old man, and smell the roses.”

    Learn to tell the difference between crap and good, youngster, and get off my lawn!

    (Shakes cane, again)

  50. Thank you, Bruce B for linking to that song. Magic & Loss is perhaps my favourite Lou Reed album but I had never seen the clip.

    It’s not exactly a box of Gump but ‘Life’s good but not fair at all’ works for me.

  51. My father was a combat veteran who survived one particular action literally by random chance; literally spent the remainder of his life with list of those he was responsible for who did not in his wallet to remind him of how fortunate he was.

    But even with that sort of perspective and an innate stoicism, he didn’t accept “meh” as an acceptable parameter.

    What was it that Douglass said? “Agitate!”

    Or Horace Mann?

  52. I’m not convinced, John. I look around and see a lot of people who would probably better off if they would settle for something real, instead of chasing the phantoms a marketing department gave them instead of dreams.

  53. Oh wow. Yuck. And you know, it doesn’t even work when you’re recovering from horrible things, either. “Please show us on the doll where life kicked the shit out of you so damn hard that being okay is a cause for unreasonable celebration.” Well, see my comment on your Mother’s Day post. But see, I CAN complain, and I WILL now, screw you, stupid song! Recovery does not involve pretending things are okay. Sure, someday they will be okay, but yeah… I’d rather find beautiful gifts in the middle of all the suckiness than try to look forward to meh. Blerrgh.

    I need to put on some Marian Call to detox. Ahh, much better.

  54. To me, the song reads as “oh thank science, the antidepressants have finally kicked in.”

  55. There’s plenty of good Rock and Roll today, and always has been. That “rock is dead” point of view just means your listening to the radio too much.

    Stop listening to Clear-Channel controlled radio and start checking out some independent bands, and you’ll find a world of great stuff.

  56. I used to think rock was dead. Dead and stinking, for that matter. “Jeezus, shut that crap off!”

    Then The Black Keys came along.

  57. “Please show us on the doll where life kicked the shit out of you so damn hard that being okay is a cause for unreasonable celebration.”

    I take it this is rhetorical request. Some of us do have stories. They aren’t interesting to anyone else but they are still stories. But a song about celebrating them not being so bad to cause you to be horizontal in a box? Drinking I can see. Drugs I can see. Crying on a friends shoulder, maybe. Singing about them? Maybe I need to find some of that less sterner stuff that would allow me to be overtly joyous about nothing at all.

  58. We should aim for excellence, thus deserve better than “okay”.

    The errors are first to put forth no effort, even to the point of mediocrity, then demand more than “okay”, but a.chorous of a.thousand sycophants saying you’re okay in preference to one who knows excellence saying you are great. Or worse, often sycophants will call your most mediocre work “great”. That leaves you naked to the innocent observations of children questioning why the emperor isn’t wearing anything.

    Proper reasons abound to critique all works. None are perfect. All could be improved. But it tales someone above to throw down criticism as a rope to pull you up, not just be insulting. Yet a rope thrown is often rejected. Better my mediocrity than your excellence.

  59. 1) I hate the song.

    2) I’d so settle for okay right now. Sometimes you have fallen out the window. Sometimes loved ones lose major organs. Okay is a good base starting point, and worth a lot more than a lot of people realize when they’re not fighting for it.

  60. This thread addresses diminished expectations, but also hopes.

    Let’s take folks in jail: they have diminished expectations on what they will be doing the next day or year, or until they get out. The question here, I think, is about hopes and plans. Let’s pretend we’re in jail. Should we think, “When I get free I’ll do better” or “This is OK”? Answers teeter between reform and recidivism.

    Here’s some expectations: (1 ) I want the best for myself, (3) I want merely better, (3) I want just OK. If you think your soul is precious I’d hope you’d opt for each “most precious” option, of what’s realistically possible. Trees naturally grow for best options of sunlight, not just OK options; shouldn’t we? Tragedies may limit what we can realistically expect for ourselves, but can’t we still hope for best options?

  61. [Deleted, unread, because dpmaine was already invited off the thread. Poor dpmaine. Not only unable to follow directions, but also having wasted time writing something I didn’t even read. There may be a lesson there – JS]

  62. Wow, John. You responded to that song in the same way I still respond to John Mayer’s “Waiting on the World to Change.” :)

  63. Tapetum

    I think the problem is not so much with the OK by itself as the conjunction with ‘Can’t complain about much today’; this is a truly, truly terrible way of looking at the world.

    For example, my daughter will ring me and ask me if I’m OK; she’s a doctor, which means that the question unpacks as ‘are the multiresistant bacteria which colonise your lungs likely to hospitalise you with life threatening pneumonia within the next few days?’. I almost always reply that I’m feeling good, not least because I thoroughly enjoy not having life threatening pneumonia.

    But part of my response springs from the knowledge that running an audit of things to complain about doesn’t make me happy, and it certainly doesn’t seem to do much for the people I have encountered who do run complaint audits and come up with unsatisfactory results.

    It doesn’t mean that I think being chirpy will miraculously solve serious problems; clearly it doesn’t. On the other hand, going the complaint audit route is probably going to make serious problems worse…

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