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August 29, 2012

Manly Songs: Go the Distance

You know, they say the first step is always the hardest.

It’s hard to change.  It’s hard to get out of a rut.  It’s hard to do anything in the face of difficulty, or convention, or reason, or even in light of one’s own mind.  Hard, but not impossible; as you know, the right song can make all the difference.

So it was that I decided to take the first post of Cross-Up’s brand spankin’ new Manly Song Repository.  It’s a side project that’ll likely bring with it plenty of unforeseen problems, but it’s one that I’m willing to undertake if it means building manly bonds between us all -- and of course, creating THE MANLIEST PLAYLIST IN THE UNIVERSE .  The problem was that I needed the right song to start things off.  I needed a song that said, “Hey!  This is what being a man is all about!”

It would have been too easy to post a song from Gamma Ray or Stratovarius or Hammerfall, or any number of metal bands (though I will eventually).  It would have been too easy to post a guitar-heavy track from an RPG (though I will).  It would have been too easy to dip into any one of Daisuke Ishiwatari’s shredding masterpieces (though I will).  I needed something unexpected.  Something that would raise eyebrows.  Something…godly.

And I think I might have found it.




Song: Go the Distance
Artist: Michael Bolton
Year: 1997

This song is cheesy as hell.


I like the song, of course, but I wouldn’t go admitting that to anyone in person anytime soon.  It’s like a festival of all the world’s finest cheeses, collected into a single building-sized roll of curdled milk. The strings of guitar notes; the twinkling sound effects; the solo wails of Michael Bolton, and the unabashedly optimistic lyrics he preaches…all of them give the song a character that suggests a complete misunderstanding of reality.  I understand that it’s trying to be inspirational, but at the same time, it’s just so undeniably over-the-top.  Bolton’s earnest cries are praiseworthy, but I can’t help but imagine myself smiling nervously and backing off if someone started singing like that all of a sudden.

And yet…is it really so wrong to be over-the-top?

It’s not the most realistic (or modest) song.  It’s not subtle.  Even in its quieter moments, there’s still a sense of bombast; those softer notes are only soft by virtue of the song’s design, and tweaking the listener’s opinion.  But damn it, I like the song BECAUSE it’s so bombastic.  It overflows with power and conviction with every note, be it forte or piano.  It invites you to do your best, and become a hero; there’s a counterbalance between the visuals it creates, mixing imagined moments of quiet inflection with the thunderous strides of a would-be hero.  Even if Michael Bolton’s performance (or Michael Bolton himself) is embarrassing to listen to or watch, you can’t help but envision him getting swept up in the passion -- a passion that’s more than a little infectious for listeners, I’d wager.


And the lyrics.  Would you listen to those lyrics? 

I’ll be there someday
I can go the distance
I will find my way
If I can be strong
I know every mile
Will be worth my while
When I go the distance
I’ll be right where I belong

This song, fittingly, is about going on a journey to be a hero.  There’s no telling where that journey may lead, or how long it’ll take, but that doesn’t matter.  The song is all about striking out, and pressing on in the face of adversity, and never losing sight of the whims of one’s heart.  There’s something here that resonates with all of us, whether it’s a direct desire to become a hero, or just pursuing a dream that lies on the horizon.  Even if the song itself isn’t moving, the message therein is; it’s a desire that every last one of us has had -- or still has -- and Bolton’s rendition is just a means to awaken those feelings.  To set them ablaze once more.

And really, isn’t that just one of many ways to prove oneself?  Isn’t that something that all of us, regardless of age, gender, or ability, can aspire to?  Is it really so wrong to want to be a hero?  Is it so wrong to be driven to action by a dream -- or driven to action by a song?  I say thee, nay.  And to that end, I hereby declare that “Go the Distance” is worthy of a noble declaration:


And that’ll do it for now.  See you guys next time.  And remember: suggestions for the next manly song are always welcome!

8 comments:

  1. Go the Distance is fast becoming one of my favourite Disney songs for pretty much all the reasons you mentioned.


    It's really ridiculous, but by god do I love it.


    And don't worry, you can happily admit to listening to the song when you're in the company of someone like me, who, will break out into chorus with Little Mermaid, Hunchback of Notre Dame, or Mulan tracks!


    Great post, btw.

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  2. Hey, if you're willing to go around town singing "Hellfire", you deserve nothing more than mad respect. (Though I can't help but wonder what context impels you to sing it so freely...)


    In any case, thanks for dropping by. I aim to please here on Cross-Up...and occasionally spread the good word. And by good I mean manly. And by manly I mean nerdy. And by nerdy I mean stay away from the ocean if you know what's good for you.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Do you also accept foreign songs of manliness, epicness and woe? 'Cause I've got one for you:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0uUpQ_mSxxM

    It's a tale of a people's woe, of uprooting from their original birthplace and finding a new home. Also features epic slow introduction and lots of bagpipes.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Any context that seems fitting. But yes, it is truly questionable!

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  5. I have no idea what they're saying, but everyone looks, acts, and sounds like they're having a good time...so I suppose this song -- by sound and effect alone -- is something of a "manly festival."


    And as we all know, manly festivals are the best festivals. I like it.

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  6. Rough translation of the lyrics (no, it does not sync with the song, I'm not a proper musician):

    Intro

    Oh coal black swallow (used in Thrace as an omen of bad times)
    borne on Eastern winds
    Oh pure white dove
    how you make me think of Home...

    Children with raven hair dressed for sorrow
    they bring me word of a love I wish I had forgotten
    and in my veins instead of blood, a sea of ash
    it whispers:


    Here among the tall thin grass (aman, aman)
    how we'll dance away our sorrow.

    No living thing on God's green earth
    can live a love unrequited
    a black, deep sea is its life
    its soul a worthless bauble

    Like a maypole twisting, turning is a life full of love
    to find it is a gift tha you must treasure
    it feeds a man it gives a girl beuty without measure.

    In dreams, in omens and in faith we'll be back Home forever
    Konstantinopole, Varna, Odessa and Vrailla
    and when the wheel of time has turned, our song will wake up Aimos (a volcano)
    we'll march back and reclaim Home, like legions of justice.


    (Hope it helps)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Given that I didn't know what they'd be saying without your translation, I'd say this is a huge help. I can certainly see the sorrowful elements you mentioned earlier -- and with it, the manly elements that'd make you bring up the song in the first place. So yeah, thanks for sharing.

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  8. Hey, if you're willing to go around town singing "Hellfire", you deserve nothing more than mad respect. (Though I can't help but wonder what context impels you to sing it so freely...)


    In any case, thanks for dropping by. I aim to please here on Cross-Up...and occasionally spread the good word. And by good I mean manly. And by manly I mean nerdy. And by nerdy I mean stay away from the ocean if you know what's good for you.

    ReplyDelete