In 1990 a little-known band named, They Might Be Giants, released an album named, Flood. Many of their songs were funny and quirky (a much-needed respite from the Nirvana/grunge scene), but some of their songs had valid social issues that the music group addressed in their own way. One of those songs came up tonight in conversation, and to make sure I remembered all of the words, I fished out my copy of, Flood, to listen to the lyrics again and low and behold, some very insightful lyrics presented themselves to me, not just for teenagers, but for all young adults.
The song, “Whistling in the Dark” includes the following lyrics:
“There’s only one thing that I know how to do well,
And I’ve often been told that you can only do what you know how to do well,
And that’s be you.
Be what you’re like.
Be like yourself.”
This is such an awesome insight from an album that was seemingly made to be frivolous and full of silliness. What teenager shouldn’t hear this? What adult shouldn’t hear this? When my kids are struggling with their problems, I assure them that they are not alone and that even adults are struggling with some of the same issues. It becomes a real eye opener for teenagers, but it shows them that we all struggle with issues. It is part of the human condition.
I am just disappointed in myself for not recognizing the relevance of these lyrics because I was so drawn in by the silly songs and humor of the album. I SO wish I could go back in time and play this song for my kids with the lyrics right in front of them so they could read the lyrics as they were hearing them and then we could process together what this chorus means to each of us. It would be an excellent writing prompt!!
A small word of advice: Do not go on a random lyrics site and think you are going to get the genuine lyrics; too many are filled with mistakes. Either get the lyrics from the CD Case (the liner notes), or listen to the song 100 times if you have to in order to get the correct lyrics. One benefit of They Might Be Giants is that you can play the CD in your classroom or around students and they will not hear anything remotely inappropriate. It is fun to put on as background music when kids are working in groups or during a time when background music is not going to distract them.
Never underestimate where you can find teachable moments. Sometimes, they are on your favorite CD from your freshman year of college.
They Might Be Giants. Flood. Recorded and published 1990.