For today’s song of the day, we’ll be looking at the Gorillaz’ “Humility (feat. George Benson)”, the single from their last album, “The Now Now”. The song features jazz guitarist George Benson, who provides the licks that accompany this upbeat summer jam.
Since most of us are spending our days inside and trying to avoid the cold and snow, I thought it’d be nice to provide a little ray of sunshine in the form of a song.
The music video for “Humility” opens with blue skies and palm trees, the perfect setting for a stroll via roller skates by Damien Albarn’s cartoon alter-ego, 2D. He’s shortly joined by a surprise guest, Jack Black, who mimes the guitar parts on a semi-hollow body and shows off his dance moves throughout the song.
The first lines of the song set the tone of the message, “Calling the world from isolation / Cause that’s the ball where we be chained”. This calls to mind the refugee crisis, and the resulting isolationist wave that resulted from it. As Albarn is English, I’m sure he had Brexit in mind when he wrote this as well.
The chorus of “Humility” also speaks to the same themes of isolation. “I’m the lonely twin, the left hand / Reset myself and get back on track / I don’t want this isolation / See the state I’m in now?”
In these lines, we see Albarn looking inward rather than outward. This could signal that Albarn himself is feeling isolated in his personal life, or that he’s projecting the emotional state of loneliness into the song in an effort to reach out to those actually going through it. And of course, as is the case with lots of art, it could very well be both.
It’s not always easy to parse the poetry of lyrics. And that challenge is only made more difficult when dealing with more cryptic and abstract lyrics. My viewpoint on the matter, however, is that we all bring our own set of interpretive tools to the table whenever we experience art. These tools are shaped by our tastes, aesthetic, and life experience, which in some cases can result in conflicting interpretations.
While an artists may intend one message, many others can often be found and adopted by listeners. Whether or not those interpretations are “right” or “wrong”, who can really say?
Some may question whether this argument is just be a roundabout way of excusing any mistakes I make in my own interpretations. And to those people I would answer, “Of course it is.”