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If you’re seeking a pop-inspired philosophy, be a driver, not a rollercoaster rider

Roller Coaster Making a LoopMaybe pop songs aren’t the best place to seek your philosophy of life, but if that’s where you’re looking, may I recommend you pay more heed to the acid-jazz/funk of Brand New Heavies than to the pop-pop/pop of Ronan Keating?

Ronan told us in 2000, “Life is a rollercoaster/ Just gotta ride it” and I’ve seen folk on Twitter quoting this line about some ups or downs (usually downs) that were apparently beyond their control.

Actually, Ronan wasn’t responsible for the words (the song’s by the chap from New Radicals – remember their fun hit, Get What You Give?), and are, in fact, much more life-affirming than they seem. They’re about a couple who’ve fallen in love – so let’s go with it, wherever this rollercoaster takes us. Which, with rollercoasters, is usually back where you started.

Anyway, I much prefer the Heavies’ notion about who’s in control. In their 1997 (minor) hit You Are The Universe, they suggest: “You’re a driver, not a passenger in life.” And, even more encouragingly, “If you conceive it, you can achieve it – that’s why I believe in you, yes I do.”

It’s one of my favourite songs from one of my favourite bands. That’s not just because Siedah Garrett sings “play it, Andrew”, and I can go into my air-bass solo. And not just because of this wonderful Flash Gordon-inspired video.

Sadly, in reality, many people are not drivers of their own lives. They are powerless, and taken along for the (often unpleasant) rollercoaster ride. Indeed, in the BNH song, there’s a caveat: “Only a dreamer could afford this point of view”.

But, when it comes to pop-song philosophy, maybe we should take the opportunity to dream.

If you’re interested in lyrics, you may want to look at this post about some troubling words, this one about some positive summer lyrics, and this about a great Cardiff-born songwriter.

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