Thursday, September 13, 2007

Guest Post by kmacginn: "Waiting On the World To Change"

"By now I'm sure you've heard the oh-so-catchy song of John Mayer's current hit "Waiting On The World To Change." Initially, I liked the song. Then, I unconsciously started singing other lyrics to it. The basic groove and message of the song sound like a blatant rip-off of "People Get Ready" performed by Curtis Mayfield. (It also makes me think of Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing." Just your basic Motown funky beat.) But, listen to the total difference in lyrics and mood of the two songs.

Mayfield wrote "People Get Ready" after the big civil rights march on Washington in 1965. Some words include:

People get readyTrain to JordanPicking up passengers from coast to coastFaith is keyOpen the doors and board them
There's hope for all among the love the mostThere ain't no room for the hopeless sinnerWho would hurt all mankind just to save his own soulHave pity on those whose choices grow thinnerThere ain't no hiding place from the Kingdom's throne

There's a call to faith and to action -- 'get on board.'

In contrast, I find John Mayer's "Waiting On the World To Change" rather symptomatic of Generation Y. First, what is "Generation Y?"

Generation Y is characterized by many as being The Apathetic Generation, heavily involved in underage drinking and abuse of prescription drugs, despite being the ones trained by D.A.R.E in schools, obese, demanding, impatient, poor communicators, and closely guarded by "helicopter parents." Year of birth varies from 1976 (Mayer was born in '77), 1982 or "The Class of 2000." They're the Internet generation, born into the astronomically growing technology environment. Here's some interesting statistics about their technology:

• 97% own a computer
• 94% own a cell phone
• 76% use Instant Messaging.
• 15% of IM users are logged on 24 hours a day/7 days a week
• 34% use websites as their primary source of news
• 28% own a blog and 44% read blogs
• 49% download music using peer-to-peer file sharing
• 75% of students have a Facebook account
• 60% own some type of expensive portable music and/or video device such as an iPod.
[Source]

Here is what Wikipedia says (emphasis added):
"Generation Y is also commonly referred to by their own peers as the Apathetic Generation. This term is used by both peers who are activists against such apathy & the apathetic nonactivists themselves. Adding to their sphere of awareness, there is an Americanized notion wherein daily television and internet news reports seem to make it clear that the world has so much wrong with it that each individual couldn't possibly take on every problem; while at the same time being aware that if they neglect the presence of world injustice, it will actually have no direct effect on them. Leading sometimes to either an observed melancholia or the tragically myopic standpoint that one does not have to care about the injustices we are not directly affected by . This standpoint is a general and consistent criticism of Generation Y, often describing them as "inconsiderate" or "unaffected "." [Source]

So, now let's look at the lyrics from Mayer's song (emphasis added):

me and all my friends
we're all misunderstood
they say we stand for nothing and
there's no way we ever could
now we see everything that's going wrong
with the world and those who lead it
we just feel like we don't have the means
to rise above and beat it

so we keep waiting
waiting on the world to change
we keep on waiting
waiting on the world to change

it's hard to beat the system
when we're standing at a distance
so we keep waiting
waiting on the world to change
now if we had the power
to bring our neighbors home from war
they would have never missed a Christmas
no more ribbons on their door
and when you trust your television
what you get is what you got
cause when they own the information, oh
they can bend it all they want

that's why we're waiting
waiting on the world to change
we keep on waiting
waiting on the world to change

it's not that we don't care,
we just know that the fight ain't fair
so we keep on waiting
waiting on the world to change


and we're still waiting
waiting on the world to change
we keep on waiting waiting on the world to change
one day our generation
is gonna rule the population

so we keep on waiting
waiting on the world to change

we keep on waiting
waiting on the world to change

Kind of sad, isn't it? No invitation to get involved and take action. All I hear is "we're gonna bitch about things, but sit on our asses and not do a dad-gum thing about it." This one line in particular makes me chuckle: "One day our generation is gonna rule the population, so we keep waiting, waiting on the world to change' -- sounds like some leaders in the Democratic party.

(Site: Hummers and Cigarettes)

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