My favorite song might be “The Obvious Child,” from Paul Simon’s album The Rhythm of the Saints. Especially this part:
Sonny sits by his window and thinks to himself
How it’s strange that some rooms are like cages
Sonny’s yearbook from high school
Is down on the shelf
And he idly thumbs through the pages
Some have died
Some have fled from themselves
Or struggled from here to get there
Sonny wanders beyond his interior walls
Runs his hands through his thinning brown hair
I just looked up the lyrics for the first time, and am surprised: I’ve always thought it was “some wounds are like cages.” And honestly, I like what I hear more. What’s more, apparently Simon’s own website lists it as “roots are like cages.”
So what’s correct? I say it’s whatever we hear. Whatever we take from the song, however it hits us and speaks to us, is correct. Driving north to Vermont a few years ago, single and needing the beautiful isolation of good mountain, I had a wound that felt like a cage, and I was going to break out.
I’ve written plenty of songs with abstract lyrics, and I can only hope you’ll make them your own. Rooms, roots, or wounds: have at it.