“We live on a mountain
Right at the top
This beautiful view
From the top of the mountain
Every morning I walk towards the edge
And throw little things off
Like car parts, bottles and cutlery
Or whatever I find lying around
It’s become a habit, a way to start the day
I go through all this
Before you wake up
So I can feel happier
To be safe up here with you…”
That’s a random lift off from the underrated “Hyperballad”, a rendition by Icelandic singer-songwriter Björk. My encounter with the song was way back when I was a prudish school teacher and nothing but that. I am still a school teacher, but with the changing times and climes of this busy business (read ‘affair’) called education, I had to shed that school-mistressy cloak and wear loose fitting robes that allow way more perspectives and angles (given the soaring temperature of the NCR, this is both literal and figurative). “Hyperballad” came to me as quite a revolting piece of something. I did not even want to call it ‘music’ back then.
And then came that moment when I contemplated the piece from a faraway land, sung by a not-so-known vocalist who is as much into a psychedelic projection of her songs, as she evidently is, into the lyrics bit (a beautiful revelation that came after I listened to the song with extreme focus). The cliff she sings about is the ‘brink’ that our everyday life pushes us toward. It could be the conjugal cliff or the simple staying-alive cliff that beckons us early on in the day and makes us do something that purges out all the yester’s bitterness, inhibitions and misgivings. Just prior to letting our hair down, before we pull it up again and clip and clutch it to fall into neat ramparts of an organised and sorted demeanour, we do that bit of throwing things off the cliff. Pertinent, isn’t it? And let’s not also miss, *when* this little maddening occurrence takes place. It has to happen before the other/s is/are up and about. It is demanded of us that we do not let our vulnerabilities be seen, because if it’s seen and known, it is followed by the next big thing, the questions we start asking ourselves. Why are we doing it? Why does it not become a shared story? Why do we have to look sorted, anyway?
Broken-up skeletal bones set to some jarring, mind-numbing, but sense-booster of lyrics- that’s “Hyperballad”. Today I can easily (and with great aplomb) carry this music into a senior school classroom to discuss dark music that does not essentially sound dark. That one song can so splendidly become the food for some profound reflections on some of the greatest philosophical take on life- life as a dumb show or its perplexing absurdity. Life was never meant to be easy, but these new-generation songs can be such an easy means of taking discussions ahead. And once such discussions begin, stemming from the desired mind-space, there is just no stopping it. The labyrinthine alleys of open-ended discourse are beautiful, dark and deep.
Enjoyed this thoroughly. There are, of course, infinite such discussions waiting to be had. Nothing new under the Sun.