Freedom, Conformism and Individual Responsibility 

Subject: Art
Type: Analytical Essay
Pages: 5
Word count: 1306
Topics: Music

The Indie subculture especially music portrayed some of the central problems faced by the individuals especially during the era when the music was evolving and being defined. Bob Marley and Peter Tosh embraced the scene with their musical hits on freedom and individual choices.  In the same sense, Rolling stones had more to teach people about their life choices and the confines or the limits they have in pursing life dreams while MGTM outlined the transition from childhood to the excessive freedom that comes with adulthood.  However, all the musical hits had their lyrics focused on three major themes of conformism and the responsibilities that individuals have in making life choices.  

The Song lyrics by Rolling Stones show how individuals should be careful when making decisions in life as well as conformism. The overall message in the song revolves around the fact that in life, one may not get what he or she wants but that does not mean a necessary or automatic loss and as such, the loss could be saving one to something bad (Wiley 23).  Accordingly, the song focuses on the portrayal of conformism indirectly by suggesting that there are various ways of individuals to feel dissatisfied with life and as such, what matters is one people cope with other things like missing goals and being contented or conform to what he or she has at present.  The entire story revolves around Mick who paints himself as such a footloose man and a woman whom he is very anxious and nervous to meet.  However as the song ends, a revisit on the woman reveals how she was villainous and deceitful.  Mick is portrayed not have gotten the girl but instead, had what he wished for in life a lesson that appearance is deceitful.  In this case, the lyrics of the song tends to suggests that conforming to life lessons, for instance, the terms like looks are deceiving, is vital because they help individuals in making life choices, seen in the final verses “She was practiced at the art of deception. Well I could tell by her blood-stained hands” (Rolling Stones). Nonetheless, there is the protest verse that portrays individual or personal freedom, whereby the protestors, although they did not achieve their goals, were still able to relay their frustrations. In this case, despite the inability of getting what they needed or wanted, the protestors achieved freedom as they found the platform for self-expression through speech.  

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Similarly, the song I am That I am By Peter Tosh is an embodiment of how individuals are not conforming to what others say or expect of them to behave or look. The song is one of the reggae songs that have remained as classical tunes at the time when identity through music was fast becoming a major agenda in the world.  In essence, the song begins with “I am not in this world to live up to your expectations, neither you to live up to mine” (Peter Tosh) which sends a message on the dangers of conformism (Kruse 33). Peter Tosh, as such, portrayed that he did not want or owe anyone explanation to how he lived his life.  In addition, the song is one among many that defined the Rastafarianism identity and as such, remains recognized or accredited to have given the genre identity as well as providing individuals with the sense of self identity. On the other hand, through the song, one gets the idea of freedom because Peter Tosh tended to argued in his song that he is equal to everyone, also written during an era when freedom for the black community was being defined and they were yet to be recognized as equal races within the highly prejudicial society. The song lyric says Flee from the city..Its getting shitty..It is full ofout-a-quity” (Peter Tosh) seen as being individuals to free themselves from the social oppression and seek better life, not physically by mentally, emotionally and psychologically.  Furthermore, Peter’s message on not pleasing people focusing on telling or encouraging individuals that they have the responsibility of making the decisions on how best to live their lives.  

Bob Marley is one of the pioneer musicians whose songs revolved much on the theme of choices and individual responsibilities. The song begins with the line “Who feels is Knows it, Lord (Bob Marley) of which in his assertion, Bob Marley tried to insinuated that as always, every individual think or perceive his or her burden as the heaviest. On the other hand, who feels it knows it implies that people should not be too much judgmental of others because they do not know the burden they have or carry.  Conversely, it is also an urge to individuals to take up their pains or heavy-loads individually because such is life whereby one has to be responsible for his burden and life choices (MacNeil 74).  Nevertheless, verse 4 of the song showcases the problems that Bob Marley had, especially urging that he is not running away but at the same time does not want leave with any strife. It came at a time when he had been attacked from a politically motivated or targeted assault and also had to make a decision about his life and safety of he wife, Rita Marley.  In this case, Marley’s message in the song is that individuals ought or need to take the full responsibility of their lives and the choices made because such have overall influence or impact on themselves and as such, decisions like freedom and the need to live in safety are individual based.  Consequently, the song revolves around the theme or the need for individuals to make their life decisions on how to live (MacNeil 74); one does not have to conform for the societal expectations, for instance, in Marley’s case, to live or stand the political strife while he had an alternative to “running away”. 

Finally, the song by MGTM let us pretend also revolves around individual responsibility and freedom. The song begins by showcasing the dreams that the young individuals had in becoming rock stars, imaging the luxury that awaited them. The use of island in the island metaphorically represents childhood of which the individuals had to break free from the confines of childhood and explore the world beyond. The Island being the home represented the simple life although there is the expression of the fear which awaits the future freedom and as such, their dreams is on becoming rocks and as such, getting the opportunity of experiencing life in a new manner (Kruse 40).  Individual responsibility is evident in the verse as the group sings “This is our decision to live fast and die young” (MGTM), a show of how their lives and choices were up to them, whether good or bad.  Individual responsibility is shown when the second verse talks about adulthood, how the individuals despite missing childhood, have to follow their dreams and as such, a portrayal of the responsibility of people in making their life choices. In the same sense, it shows the conformity to the life stages of which one should not stick to a specific stage but has to explore more possibilities and advance with age.  

Therefore, the four songs discussed above exemplified the challenges and the typical lives of the indie culture. On one hand, there is much attribution to freedom as a major and inherent theme.  On the other hand, there is the emphasis on why people should not conform to societal expectations but believe or take actions on the basis of satisfying their selves. Accordingly, freedom is much expressed in some of the songs, from childhood and even from mental and political slavery.  In the same manner, all show that individuals have the responsibilities to make choices for their own good and not necessarily have to please others.  

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  1. Kruse, Holly. “Subcultural identity in alternative music culture.” Popular music 12.1 (1993): 33-41.
  2. MacNeil, Dean. The Bible and Bob Marley: Half the story has never been told. Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2013.
  3. Wiley, Norman. Wants not wishes move you., 2011
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