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Social Distortion

April 14, 2016 Comments Off on Wisdom in a song – Social Distortion – Ball and Chain Views: 64 Life

Wisdom in a song – Social Distortion – Ball and Chain

When I was in high school, I had a wonderful English teacher who asked each of us to find a song that we liked and present it to the class with an analysis of the lyrics…basically, take a favorite song and tell the class what the author meant. Ever since middle school a few years earlier, I was fascinated by the concept that songwriting was basically just poetry set to music. Now given my penchant for the harder end of the musical spectrum, one would think that there’s not much depth to the lyrics. I beg to differ. Yes you do get such gems as Hammer Smashed Face by Cannibal Corpse, but you also find a great depth of message from some artists especially when you look behind the mohawks and gang signs of punk rock and hip hop.

 

I was riding in my car the other day blasting what I will humorously call my sing-a-long playlist, meaning I scroll through my phone’s library until I come across a song I know the words to and then sing like I’m the only one on the planet, and I came across a gem that I had totally forgotten. The master work I’m referring to is Ball and Chain by Social Distortion. If you don’t know who Social D is, I will argue there is something severely lacking from your punk rock education.

 

I’ve included the full lyrics below. If you’ve never heard the song, stop what you’re doing and head to YouTube, then come back. I’ll wait.

 

I want to focus on the second verse right after the chorus. The entire song is pretty awesome, but this one hits the nail on the head for me in a big way. Here’s the verse:

 

Well I’ve searched and I’ve searched
To find the perfect life
A brand new car and a brand new suit
I even got me a little wife
But wherever I have gone
I was sure to find myself there
You can run all your life
But not go anywhere

 

Mike Ness, the main songwriter and overall drive behind Social D points to the all to common practice of searching for happiness from some external source. I call this the If Only game when I’m talking to clients…or myself for that matter. If only I have insert desired object, person, or situation here, then I’ll be happy. What we find when we look closely enough is that the happiness that comes from the acquisition of “stuff” is at best fleeting and often times can be downright disappointing. How many times have you built up something in your mind only to find that the actuality of it is nowhere as amazing as you thought? Look hard at your life. You’ll see what I mean.¬†¬†Chasing things never really made anyone happy. If having everything you wanted equaled happiness, I think we would see far fewer celebrities with drug habits.

 

My absolute favorite part of this verse is “But wherever I have gone, I was sure to find myself there.” In a nut shell, you are you and you have to live with it. I saw a demotivational poster a while back that said “The one unifying characteristic of all your unsatisfactory relationships is you.” Now obviously on a demotivational poster the intent is to be humorous in a bleak “gallows humor” kind of way, but ever since I read that, I’ve always felt there is a real nugget of truth in that statement. One fact that we all must face is that the only thing we really have any control over in our lives is ourselves. I tell my clients all the time, I can’t change the other person and neither can you. I can only help you change you.

 

The last line sums everything up and ties it with a nice bow. You can run all your life, but not go anywhere. If that’s the case, why not just stop running and be here now with exactly what you are, where you are, and where you’re going.

Check out the video (lyrics below):

 

 

Well it’s been ten years and a thousand tears
And look at the mess I’m in
A broken nose and a broken heart,
An empty bottle of gin
Well I sit and I pray
In my broken down Chevrolet
While I’m singin’ to myself
There’s got to be another way

 

Take away, take away
Take away this ball and chain
Well I’m lonely and I’m tired
And I can’t take any more pain
Take away, take away
Never to return again
Take away, take away
Take away
Take away this ball and chain

 

Well I’ve searched and I’ve searched
To find the perfect life
A brand new car and a brand new suit
I even got me a little wife
But wherever I have gone
I was sure to find myself there
You can run all your life
But not go anywhere

 

Take away, take away
Take away this ball and chain
Well I’m sick and I’m tired
And I can’t take any more pain
Take away, take away
Never to return again
Take away, take away
Take away
Take away this ball and chain

 

Well I’ll pass the bar on the way
To my dingy hotel room
I spent all my money
I’ve been drinkin’ since half past noon
Well I’ll wake there in the mornin’
Or maybe in the county jail
Times are hard getting harder
I’m born to lose and destined to fail

 

Take away, take away
Take away this ball and chain
Well I’m lonely and I’m tired
And I can’t take any more pain
Take away, take away
Never to return again
Take away, take away
Take away
Take away this ball and chain

 

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