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Getting Above Myself

In our contemporary state of political and social turmoil, I think I’ll talk about a blatantly political song that can actually relate to more than just political scenarios, whether or not it was intended that way.

“I saw your flag/Another star, another stripe./ What’s your new bag?/ Something real or just some hype?/Tell me, what have you sown?/Have you prospered and grown?/Why shouldn’t you have your moments of genius/Just because our alliance broke with no civil words between us?/Oh, my beautiful enemy, beautiful/ I send my scorn and ridicule./You’re not innocent,/No not innocent/ No one’s innocent.”

In her song “Beautiful Enemy”, it’s unclear what other country Dar Williams is singing about – though America is clearly represented. I’m not certain whether the point of view is supposed to be that of Great Britain or Russia, or I suppose some other country, those just seem like the most likely candidates. However, the lyrics can pertain to so much more than simply an international rivalry.

“My nation’s grand./Your name’s not on any signs./It’s so well-planned/And well-groomed and yet sometimes/The past tornadoes through./ People talk about you./Can’t they see that your reign/is steely and torturous?/I start thinking that I am sinking/Inside a hollow fortress./ Oh, my enemy, beautiful enemy./My stride is slowed by memory,/but not innocent/no, not innocent/No one’s innocent.”

Actually, I’ve found that the lyrics of this particular song tend to relate to inter-personal rivalries, as well. People who dislike each other tend to compete for the affections of others, for better grades, for land, and social stature. Unfortunately, sometimes people are focused too much on outdoing or squashing their competition to realize they are about to hit an iceberg and sink like the Titanic.

“In my furies of dream:/The juries denounce you./ There I stand with the upper hand/But in order to trounce you:/I just keep getting above myself/I just keep getting above myself!/ And so I’m worried, but as I’ve stated,/Things can be complicated/but you’re my enemy.”

Although I’m not an athletic person, I have a feeling that this can interfere with sports competitions, too. I’ve certainly known this phenomenon to keep me or others from winning card games and board games, all the way from Gin Out (a very complex card game) down to the simplicity of Connect Four.

“The future’s bright./ There are new things we will love./It feels so right./Let’s not make up or rise above./Yes, we are more corrupted,/Happy and productive./We’ll both live in a world of civilized people./Though I’ve heard that my brand new church/has a slightly higher steeple!/ Oh, my enemy, beautiful enemy/Hail to your vast hegemony!/You’re not innocent/I’m not innocent./No one’s innocent.”

Honestly, it might be better just to not care about that enemy at all and focus on succeeding for your own purposes. Sometimes competition is a good thing because it drives you to work harder, but sometimes it just destroys your soul and turns you into a bitter person.

Oh! “Hegemony” means: “leadership or dominance, especially by one country or social group over others.” Another great thing about music: lots of ways to learn new vocab.

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