There are a lot of pop music traditions that go as far back as the music itself (No, I’m not talking about cultural appropriation of minorities’ music, even though very much, yes). One of the most fun is the fact that over the years there have been songs that are really, truly made up of gibberish lyrics.
This isn’t always a knock against them – part of the fun of songs like Little Richard’s “Tutti Frutti,” The Beatles “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” Hanson’s “MMMbop” and Eiffel 65’s “Blue” is that the performers go in knowing they’re essentially spouting nonsense. There’s nothing wrong with loving something so openly mindless.
And then there’s those who are (maybe) reaching for some kind of profundity, but instead just sound like they’re raving. And these can be lovable in their own way.
Which brings me to my man, Pat Monahan, lead singer and songwriter of Train and his surrealist/acid trip/headscratcher masterpiece, “Drops of Jupiter.” It’s a song I unabashedly fucking love, but despite the fact I cannot possibly recount all the times I’ve belted this thing out in my car, with a gun to my head I couldn’t tell you what it’s about.
In a 2015 interview with Buzzfeed Monahan explains that the song was written after his mother died. “It’s a story about my mother coming back after like swimming through the planets and finding her why through the universe,” he explained. “And coming back to tell me that heaven was overrated and [to] love this life, you know?”
Which, I mean sure, that’s heartwarming and all that, but man, I just don’t know. That doesn’t explain how one can “Listen like spring and talk like June”? Who would want their romance “Freeze-dried”? And how do shooting stars get scars, permanent or otherwise?
Whatever any of this means (if it means anything at all), its Monahan’s sincerity that sells the thing. The extra life he gives the lyrics as the bridge ends can still raise the hair on my arms if it catches me in the right mood.
So, does conviction triumph over logic? When it comes to art that you love, the answer is every damn time. I don’t believe in guilty pleasures – you like what you like, and long as it isn’t hate-filled or going to inspire violence, go for it. As for me, I’m going back on my soul vacation. I’ll see you out there.
Rivers Cuomo has my vote for Emperor of Jibberish Hits