1. It's the End of the World as We Know It - R.E.M.
2. Every Day is a Winding Road - Cheryl Crow
It would be a mistake to presume that the child of postmodernity has no interest in truth. Oftentimes they are very convicted about their truth- what is repugnant to them is the idea that one truth is superior to another. They cling with stubborn loyalty to their own sentimental view of the world, without ever really grasping that pure subjectivism is a philosophical dead end. Every Day is a Winding Road outlines the emptiness and melancholia that one experiences when traveling down the road of life without an actual destination in mind. Indeed, a road trip is only fun if you know where you're going; "Jump in let's go. Lay back, enjoy the show. Everybody gets high, everybody gets low, these are the days when anything goes. Ever day is winding road... I get a little bit closer... Every day is a faded sign." Here she captures perfectly that postmodern view of life; a place where "signs" are fundamentally faded, and where you apparently get closer every day, though in reality you never quite reach your destination (sounds a little bit like hell, but that's just me). Life, according to this song, is a kind of show wherein you "lay back" and watch it as if it were little more than a mindless form of entertainment. The people all do as they please, and Ms. Crow takes it all in as if this performance were put on for her amusement. "He's got a daughter he calls Easter, she was born on a Tuesday night. I'm just wondering why I feel so all alone; why I'm a stranger in my own life... I've been swimming in a sea of anarchy. I've been living on coffee and nicotine. I've been wondering if all the things I've seen were ever real; were ever really happening..." In these revealing verses you see a woman who clearly feels isolated- despite her earlier recommendation to simply "enjoy the show." The man in the song is a "vending machine repair man," whom she meets as a result of her hitchhiking adventure. During their conversation the repair man starts talking about his daughter- and while he is speaking- she wonders to herself why she feels "so all alone" (which seems pretty obvious in light of the fact that he is talking about his family and she appears to have none). In the end, we do actually find out where this "winding road" leads, and it ain't pretty folks. The truth is if one ultimately denies the existence of a larger Reality, then sooner or later one is bound to start questioning their own. And Ms. Crow is a grand example of this, for she begins the song with relativism, and ends it wondering to herself "if all the things she's seen were ever real; were ever really happening..."
3. 1979 - Smashing Pumpkins
4. Born this Way - Lady Gaga
5. Do the Evolution - Pearl Jam
This song (and its accompanying video) could best be described as Planet of the Apes meets Watership Down. With its blurring of the lines between man and ape, it paints a grim picture of the evolution of man; "I'm ahead, I'm a man. I'm the first mammal to wear pants. I'm at peace with my lust. I can kill 'cause in God I trust. It's evolution baby!" Humanity is headed off a cliff because it is rife with hypocrisy, arrogance, and an insatiable thirst for power. From a technological point of view, the good news is man has progressed far beyond his wildest imagination; the bad news is he is using that "progress" to destroy himself. If this all sounds familiar, it should, for it mirrors the story line of just about every science fiction novel ever written. Science fiction is a genre generally dedicated to the cause of fighting/outsmarting the terrible Frankensteinian beast that we've created; the one that incidentally has no regard for moral or ethical concerns. The hero of the story is often of the Noir variety, meaning, his ethics are a bit blurry, though he knows one essential thing; he does not approve of all of this technological totalitarianism. Vedder is very definite in his condemnation of certain ideas, but what he's not so clear about is why he is so definite. Yet technology is not the only thing he criticizes in this song- for he critiques man as well. On the one hand, he wants to remind humanity that he/she is little more than an ape, and on the other, he is genuinely disgusted with man for behaving like a degraded animal. I know, it's a logical contradiction, but this group does not hold themselves to the standard of logical consistency; passion is their only truth. In any case, perhaps if humanity did act more in accord with his self-proclaimed dignity, men like Vedder might not be so inclined to call the human race a bunch of glorified monkeys.
6. Across the Universe - The Beatles
If the postmodern man practices the Christian faith at all, then his idea of Christianity is likely to include a wholesale rejection of the institutional church. Institutions can't be trusted, but we can of course trust ourselves (or so we think) in any and all things to make the best choice. At any rate, the brand of Christianity that usually arises from this mentality tends to be a kind of theme-park Christianity, a place where the whole family can be entertained, and perhaps even enjoy a latte in the meantime. If Starbucks were a denomination, this is probably what it would look like. Religion, like everything else today, must be engineered in order to suit our general disposition. However, many in our postmodern culture are not inclined to follow Christ (especially not the commercialized version of him), so they turn to the East. A prime example of this embrace of eastern philosophy can be seen in the Beatles religious excursion to India. With the longstanding help of their beloved guru Maharesh Mahesh Yogi, they were able to create a delightful syncretistic Christian-Hindu mish-mash and insert it into their music. One Beatles song in particular that was inspired by this encounter in India was Across the Universe. Throughout the piece Lennon seems almost as if he were mumbling nonsense in his sleep. Indeed, the words along with his vocal styling meander in a kind of aimless morphine-like haze. And yet the chorus accidentally, I think, clears up any confusion about what this song might be about; "Jai Guru Deva. Om. Nothing's gonna change my world. Nothing's gonna change my world..." The postmodernist is willing to be "spiritual", what he avoids like the plague is "religion." He likes the former because it involves making your faith in your own image, while loathing the ladder because it binds you to a set of principles and ideas that you yourself did not create. Hence, the utterances of Lennon make perfect sense in light of this, for he and others have looked to the east in order to find a way to feed their natural hunger for mysticism (especially the trippy kind), while simultaneously rejecting any religious ideas that might, God forbid, threaten to "change their world."
7. Another Brick in the Wall Part II - Pink Floyd
8. Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana
9. Fake Plastic Trees - RadioHead
In the spirit of post modernism RadioHead seeks to walk a fine line between form and formlessness (both musically and lyrically). If their song Creep is an homage to being an outcast and a "weirdo," then the song Fake Plastic Trees is an homage to another popular theme for the post modern critic: the phoniness of the modern world; "Her green plastic watering can, for her fake Chinese rubber plant, in the fake plastic earth... That she bought from a rubber man, in a town full of rubber plans, to get rid of itself. It wears her out..." The cold mechanization of everything is leading to a world that is inundated with "fake plastic trees." Yet what he is getting at here is not merely the phoniness of the outer world, but the phoniness of the inner world of man. There seems to be among many postmoderns a healthy phobia of things that are counterfeit (which explains in part their penchant for environmentalism). Perhaps the greatest evil from their point of view is leading a "fake plastic" existence. Of all the post modern critiques on society, I am most sympathetic with this one, for in this regard I too am inclined to be a "weirdo" and a freak if only to avoid the "fake plastic" conventions of society. If you want to know one of the reasons this crowd doesn't take religion seriously, it is in part because the previous generations passed on to them reflexively, without ever really understanding or believing what they were passing on. It is for this reason, among others, that organized religion is verboten in their community. From their perspective it is little more than one "fake plastic tree" on a planet that is overrun with them.
10. Black Hole Sun - Soundgarden