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Are We Human or Are We PUMA?

Human performed by “Goodbye Elliott” — be sure to click Play

While searching for a “Killers” version of their song, “Human,” that I could use here, I found this heartrending one by the band “Goodbye Elliot,” performing in their living room in Hawaii. As a former grades K-12 music teacher, I have a special place in my heart for talent like this, the joy and purity of playing and performing music.

We were lucky to have found each other. We were just kids.

—Paul McCartney, of his songwriting partnership with John Lennon. “The View” 1/14/09.

Wow, I guess I’m officially old, although everything about my generation will still be sixteen. “I Want to Hold Your Hand” was released in 1962. That was 47 years ago. I didn’t even like the Beatles at first. I was into Ray Charles, oldies, jazz, avant-garde authors, poets, and playwrights, movies and musicals.

You won’t notice the years slip by. I’m telling you now. I don’t care.

But, are you still “Dancer”?

Are we human, or are we PUMA?

Some people might view that in a negative way. Not me. I’m looking at it this way. As ‘What’s Your Point, Honey?” filmmaker Amy Sewell* put it:

Women shouldn’t be paid equal, they should be paid more.

“The Killers” official music video of Human**, which is disabled for download, is full of big cats, which gives the song a special mystique and meaning to me. Call it telepathic radio — PUMAs are filmed heading right into the camera, stalking New Mexico-looking landscape. I highly recommend that you view it on YouTube, linked at bottom of page.

From mp3 lyrics;

[** There has been considerable confusion and debate over the line “Are we human or are we dancer?” in the song’s chorus. Many have incorrectly heard “denser” instead of “dancer”, a change which significantly alters the interpretation of the song’s meaning. On the band’s official website, the biography section states that Flowers is singing “Are we human, or are we dancer?” and also says that the lyrics were inspired by a disparaging comment made by Hunter S. Thompson about how America was raising a generation of dancers.] Lyrics: Human, The Killers [end]

As with any good song, poem or story, it holds up to lots of interpretation. Apparently there are many, including mine. The video and the song remind me of PUMA, at first, of course, because of the cats. But also this . . .

The idea of our innate wildness as humans, all of us, is visceral. Our willingness to break free from what’s expected. Afterall, that’s what my Baby Boom Generation did, right? Which is the human part, which is the animal part? Which is the spirit of the human, AND which of the animal? Where do they exist and reside? Are they part of our hard drive or an application? How do they determine our way in Life and the paths we choose?

HUMAN by The Killers

I did my best to notice
When the call came down the line
Up to the platform of surrender
I was brought but I was kind

And sometimes I get nervous
When I see an open door
Close your eyes, clear your heart
Cut the cord

Are we human or are we dancer?
My sign is vital, my hands are cold
And I’m on my knees looking for the answer
Are we human or are we dancer?

Pay my respects to grace and virtue
Send my condolences to good
Hear my regards to soul and romance
They always did the best they could

And so long to devotion
It taught me everything I know
Wave goodbye, wish me well
You’ve gotta let me know

Are we human or are we dancer?
My sign is vital, my hands are cold
And I’m on my knees looking for the answer
Are we human or are we dancer?

Will your system be alright
When you dream of home tonight
There is no message we’re receiving
Let me know, is your heart still beating?

Are we human or are we dancer?
My sign is vital, my hands are cold
And I’m on my knees looking for the answer
Are we human or are we dancer?

You’ve gotta let me know

Are we human or are we dancer?
My sign is vital, my hands are cold
And I’m on my knees looking for the answer
Are we human or are we dancer?

My new boyfriend finally turned me on to The Beatles around the time “Revolver” was released in 1966, then “Sgt. Pepper. . . ” in 1967, and I was hooked. These were our anthems. When the movie “Let It Be” was released in 1970, the Beatles were at their height of mutual destruction, at each others’ throats, sarcastically sniping and putting each other down in the film. But evidently, I didn’t know or believe it before I went, alone, high on acid, thinking I’d have a wonderful ride. I left the theater on one of the few bummers I ever had while stoned out of my mind. The curtain had been pulled back in The Land of Oz — about the Beatles and so many other unacceptable things in our culture.


The Beatles, “Get Back”

John was always my favorite Beatle, including, perhaps especially his journey into feminism. This morning, Paul talked about losing his best friend, when John died. At the time, it was reported they’d been somewhat estranged, amidst years of pressure to reunite as a band. Down the road, perhaps they’d want to take some of it back, but at the time I’m sure it made sense to each of them. I’m not sure what the song means, and on wiki, it sounds like they were just making up ditties during their jam. But, even though it’s far from my favorite Beatles song, I get that same feeling of getting back to what’s essential, and of meaning.

Through it all — the trials of our existence — what is the kernel we seek? A means to live in peace, be fed, happy, respected, love and be loved, and make our music? To be free. To be seen. To feel some kind of meaning in our life. Seeing and hearing Hillary Clinton‘s deep eloquence and majestic thinking during her Senate Confirmation Hearings for Secretary of State reminded me once again. To discover our purpose, individually and collectively, and the Spirit of our Dancer.

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life? —Mary Oliver, The Summer Day


* Stay tuned for my upcoming post, and recorded interview with documentary filmmaker and feminist, Amy Sewell. We discuss her latest film, “What’s Your Point, Honey?” which is about how to fulfill our mission of electing a woman President of the United States.

“The Killers,” Human on YouTube.

[cross-posted from Lady Boomer NYC]