Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Bob Dylan and Adele Make Us Feel

I think an introduction is due. I'm already familiar with the song even before Adele popularized it. Make You Feel My Love is a Sunday staple in radio stations at home with Bob Dylan's cowboy rendition.

The importance of this song lies on M. and I's conflicting interpretations of it. What we came up with is so polarized! M. said he felt blue after hearing it while I felt positive energy coursing through me.

What made him so sad is the idea that although the love talked about in the song is pure and naive, it's one-sided (credited probably to the way Adele's music video was made and the song's tempo). Whereas I, thought that it's a very sweet song to offer to someone I really love, I even went on to say that a mom could sing that to her newborn (is this going too far?).

I think the song is beautiful that way for it to have multiple interpretations.

I initially imagined it as a song for the beloved especially with the lines;

When the evening shadows
And the stars appear
And there is no - one there
To dry your tears
I could hold you
For a million years
To make you feel my love

For anyone who lacks practice in making words taste like honey, the song could easily convey what the lover feels. Hitting the play button with the right ambiance will do its magic. It can be sang if the lover is confident enough to sing the song even (the song is actually easy to sing as it can be half-sung, half-spoken with some characteristic rockstar slur/swag).

I tried the stripped off version (without the lyrics) and the melody works just as fine. I can honestly imagine a mother here humming this song to her child who came home crying because some playmate destroyed the sand castle he built. 

Here comes the power of visuals now. How it can provide context to a song and give it some sort of story, as demonstrated in Adele's music video is very much a reflection of Roland Barthes' argument pertaining to the Author. Barthes' assertion in the Death of the Author that "the birth of the reader must be at the cost of the death of the Author". With this, he concurs with Mallarme's belief that it is the language which speaks, not the author...that point where only language acts, 'performs' and not 'me'. In this case, the person/people who conceptualized the music video featured a woman (played by Adele) alone in her hotel room, thinking about someone, then sending him/her a SMS as she sings. It can tell of despair; wanting to be able to share the love she has but can't because of whatever the situation they have that stops her from doing so (beloved may not feel the same way or he/she is too impassive to feel anything).

To give the song a new life by making it ironic through its visuals is an interesting way to rouse discussion. While irony is common, I particularly liked how my construction of the song's meaning was challenged when I watched the music video. 

Earlier, I was so dead-set on the idea that the song is filled with all the naivete common among kids. Confronted with the music video, I had to think again and contemplate on how such a sweet song could taste so bitter as a woman alone in her hotel room is shown with the light in her room the only one turned on.