For a long time I loved this one. I thought it was a great creative, artsy way to think about our lives.
But when you sit down and really think about it – the initial metaphor, the remaining lyrics – yeah, not so much. Here are Jim Scott’s lyrics – the chorus of a longer song turned into a round (based on a Russian folk song):
May your life be as a song,
Resounding with the dawn
to sing awake the light.
And softly serenade the stars,
Ever dancing circles in the night.
Here are my problems:
First, if my life is a song, it’s reasonably short and likely forgettable. Short is okay, when you think about how short our time is on earth compared to the earth itself or even the universe. But likely forgettable? An annoying ear worm? A repetitive hook? Yeah, no thanks. I’d rather my life be a symphony, or an opera, or something longer that tells a story and contains themes and variations and a sense of impact.
Second, why is my song only in concert with things I have no affect on? Sun’s gonna rise whether I’m here or not, stars did that dancing we see long before we were more than a single-cell paramecium. I’d rather my life resound with the interconnected web of existence as it is now, singing awake our own internal lights, serenading the children we raise, voicing our truths.
Maybe it’s my mood, but I’m growing tired of our desire to be detached and sound wise, when all we are really is detaching from the wisdom we find on the ground.
My third problem is less about the lyrics and more about the music – Jim’s full song is a bossa nova – but if you don’t know that, it becomes complex to sing, and the unusual timing of some lines just doesn’t work if you don’t have that beat in your head. As the image shows below, it’s a syncopated beat that you almost need to feel before this round makes any sense.
Fourth – how did a Russian folk song become a bossa nova anyway?
Bottom line: I used to love this song, and I really don’t anymore.
Has anyone given you the more direct translation? I relate it to us being the celestial music that the universe makes. and this song inviting us to live as though we knew that. And the more vague lyrics allow for this interpretation better:
If the people lived their lives
As if they were a song
For singing out of light
Provide the music for the stars
To be dancing circles in the night.
Oh, now this translation sings for me. Thank you, Amy.