Alcoa’s Marching Band is “Fun.”

Updated: September 17, 2013

The 2013 high school football season rushes on, and yet this tab shuffles along, lagging behind like a tortoise among hares. I beg both of my readers (wow–how did you guess I’m an optimist?!) to accept this feeble attempt at catching up.

On August 23 I caught the game between Alcoa and Smith County. At halftime, Alcoa’s band went first, playing a few numbers by the rock band called “Fun.” The first was an arrangement of ‘Some Nights,’ which, if you were to judge based on the lyrics of the song alone, you’d have to call it pretty bizarre—in other words, standard 21st century artistry. Even though the lyrics sound like some disconnected phrases pulled together, the basic meaning can easily be determined. I would place it in the category of such songs as ‘Dust in the Wind’ or any others that expose frustration at what seems like a lack of meaning in life. Granted, the emotion created by the military-style percussion, the quick tempo, and the vocal harmonies of ‘Some Nights’ doesn’t leave one quite as far along the path to suicide as the haunting guitar/violin combination in ‘Dust in the Wind.’ The song more reflects a young personality that is beginning to see some of the disappointments of life while still holding on to hope and determined to have a good time in the experience than it does an aging soul embittered and calloused by the harsh realities of death, disease, and despair. The music video depicts a Civil War setting, which was a good choice. It fits the theme of the song nicely.

Second on the lineup in Alcoa’s “Fun.” medley was ‘Carry On.’ Almost everything that was said about the song ‘Some Nights’ in the above paragraph could be used to describe ‘Carry On.’ The exceptions: the lyrics are a bit more coherent in this one; the music is slower, but every bit as inspirational; and the determination is easier to hear in this one. “If you’re lost and alone, or you’re sinking like a stone, carry on.” And so, with the determination inspired by listening to the song just before I wrote this paragraph, I continue with this article.

The final tune in the medley was ‘We are Young.’ Cutting to the chase, the theme of this one is exactly the same as the other two songs. This one’s lyrics are more like ‘Some Nights’—open to some interpretation. Previous to writing this article I had not noticed the similarity in theme among these songs performed by Fun. If you look at the titles on the album “Some Nights,” the other songs could easily fit this theme: ‘It Gets Better,’ ‘Why Am I the One,’ and ‘All Alone,’ to name a few. One wonders if these boys read the book of Ecclesiastes before they write their music. But, on second thought, this theme of “determination in the face of hopelessness” is not a new concept. If you’re writing music about reality, that theme will inevitably come up.

And perhaps that’s why Fun. has hit it big—besides being very gifted musically, their songs perfectly capture the human spirit. After looking around and discovering that humans have a 100% death rate, who wouldn’t feel “lost and alone”? Yet, as we look around, we also see some things that inspire us—talented, sweaty youngsters on the field displaying their hard work in the world of music or sport; loving friends and family faithfully filling the stands even though it means losing a battle against the mosquitoes or the humidity or the cold or numbness in the cheeks; determined referees who strive to do their job fairly despite ceaseless accusations of incompetence from the ignorant fans who assume the refs have been bribed by the other side. Yes, it may be true that we’re not here forever, but how unexpectedly interesting the view has turned out to be!

Good choice of material, Alcoa. Carry on, indeed.