Perhaps dissecting the lyrics of songs is unwise. Perhaps there is a danger of reading into a song meanings that were not intended. Perhaps there is a danger of overthinking words that were secondary to the music. Perhaps lines that were sung for fun can take on a seriousness they did not possess when the song was recorded.
The late Joe Cocker’s Unchain my heart is perhaps a song I have over analysed. The lyrics begin:
Unchain my heart, baby let me go
Unchain my heart, ’cause you don’t love me no more
Every time I call you on the phone
Some fellow tells me that you’re not at home
Unchain my heart, set me free
and continue in a similar vein.
The lyrics are, of course, contrary to human experience. It does not seem to be possible to disengage human emotions through an effort of will. It certainly does not seem to be possible for a decision by someone else to bring changes in how you feel on the inside.
The very fact that the lines Joe Cocker sang speak of unchaining the heart rather than unchaining the mind is a recognition that the emotions felt are nor rational, they are not amenable to intellectual persuasion. Feelings are felt simply because they are felt. The “baby” in Joe Cocker’s song has probably told her former lover on repeated occasions that their relationship is over, but such dismissals do not dispel his feelings, only he can unchain himself. His plea to be “unchained” is a declaration of his continuing love.
Were it a simple matter to be “unchained,” the sum of human happiness in the world might be considerably increased. People would not carry for years memories of the hurts they have received from others.
Were it possible for humans to disengage from their emotions and to behave in a wholly rational and intellectually balanced manner, then the world itself might be an altogether different place. Nationalism, populism, and other political philosophies that appeal to human sentiment rather than to the capacity for reason, would lose their hold over people.
Unchaining people from their emotions is a very unlikely eventuality. Anyone who has experienced the sort of thoughts that are too difficult to articulate as a national anthem, or particular piece of music, are played will know that whatever thoughts we may consciously express, there are feelings that are too deep for words, and that there are emotions that are too strong to be unchained by logical persuasion.