Monday, December 24, 2012

Kacey Musgraves- Merry Go 'Round Review

By: Jonathan Harris

Texas native Kacey Musgraves has recently ridden onto the scene with her highly acclaimed debut single "Merry Go Round," a song about people who live their lives for something they can never achieve in this life. The first time I heard the song, I admit, while I was drawn to the deep lyrics and classic country style, I was slightly put off by the drug and adultery references. However, the more I listened, the more I realized that, not only was this song a work of genius, but it taught a down-right valuable lesson.

The first two paragraphs of the song read:

If you ain't got two kids by 21,
You're probably gonna die alone
At least that's what tradition told you.

And it don't matter if you don't believe,
Come Sunday morning you best be there
In the front row, like you're s'posed to.

It seems obvious to me that what's being described here is the American dream from a small town perspective. Getting married early and going to church are what life's about right? Well, for our grandparents those where the main elements of life---as further reinforced by the use of nostalgic 8mm home video film footage in the music video. But today there's something lacking, and it's something that was even lacking for our parents. Everything's empty! Yes, we may be in church, but it's only out of duty. We may get married, but it's because we fear dying alone.

The next two lines sum up the problem. Underlying our social activities and "status" are the scars from the emptiness inside and instability that comes in a home where such emptiness reigns supreme.

Same hurt in every heart.
Same trailer, different park.

 The song goes on. . .

Mamas hooked on Mary Kay
Brothers hooked on Mary Jane
And Daddies hooked on Mary two doors down.

These three lines are dead on accurate and I really appreciate them. Let me explain. The things all members of the family are using to distract themselves from the emptiness they feel inside are presented in an equivalent manner. Mary Kay is seen as equal to drugs (Mary Jane) and adultery (Mary two doors down), yet they all bear the name "Mary." I think we as a culture so often forget that Sports, hobbies, music, style, work, etc. can all be just as big escapes as what we perceive to be more evil. Yes, being obsessed with the way you look and fashion can get you the same temporary high and be just as distracting and meaningless as marijuana. Awesome point! Also notice that the whole family is affected  by this escapism. There is no hope in a solid father or a mother who has it together.  The coping mechanisms are passed down to each generation (thus the merry go round effect) which is the point Musgraves makes next.

Mary Mary quite contrary,
We get bored so we get married
And just like dust we settle in this town.
On this broken merry go 'round and 'round and 'round we go,
Where it stops nobody knows...
And it ain't slowin' down, this merry go 'round...

Coping with the emptiness of the human heart by trying achieve things that we think will make us happy (by living up to other people's standards) is viewed as negative and a dead end. It doesn't really get us anywhere.

The single goes on to reinforce this futility of life theme.

We think the first time's good enough,
So we hold on to high school love,
Say we won't end up like our parents.

Tiny little boxes in a row,
Ain't want you want it's what you know,
Just happy in the shoes you're wearin'.

Same checks we're always cashin',
To buy a little more distraction.

One of the lines that changes in the second chorus states, "We're so board until we're buried." This concept intrigues me. Here's the situation. We are told by tradition to value certain things like church and marriage. So we try those things and they don't give us satisfaction. We are told by the world to value certain things (the three Mary's), so we try those and they don't give us satisfaction. In reality the "Mary's" turn out to be the distractions from our seemingly failed lives. We spend our paychecks trying to distract ourselves from this fact so we can pretend everything is really fine when it isn't. The result? Pain? Hopelessness? Hurt? Well yes, but supremely over all of these is one thing: boredom. Boredom?! Yes, we are left with no real purpose and nothing we do seems to satisfy or feel important. Thus the demise of our culture. . . a culture surrounded by every conceivable blessing yet still board.
Finally we come to the end of the song. Musgraves sings:

Jack and Jill went up the hill,
Jack burned out on booze and pills,
And Mary had a little lamb,
Mary just don't give a damn no more.

What a statement. I'm assuming the little lamb is perhaps referring to a child? A generation so dead set on escaping reality to find satisfaction that we neglect our own children.

Here's the summary. This sounds an awful lot like the book of Ecclesiastes minus the last verse, "The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil" "Merry Go 'Round" describes a world without a higher purpose being placed in God. It's almost like the sequel to Tracy Lawrence's "Time Marches On," without the references to the angels. As a Christian, I can appreciate this song because it's so true. Man without a higher purpose is left to this way of thinking, and yes, it is extremely tragic. Cultural Christianity can't come up with the solution either (remember the first line). It must be a real faith in a real God who has a real purpose with real satisfaction.

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