A Musical Act Of Kindness

Music and Lyrics

I'm always on the lookout for ideas for this blog and sometimes they just fall in my lap. Or rather, my ears. On a long bus journey during which I was supposed to be writing something for More Good Deeds I was struggling for inspiration so pulled out my phone, set my music to shuffle and sat back with my eyes closed. And Bastille provided. For those of you not up on your popular culture, Bastille are a British indie rock band. They shot to fame a few years ago and are probably best known for their song "Pompeii" from their first studio album, Bad Blood. Living in Cambodia I am notoriously bad a keeping up with current music but finally got around to downloading their most recent album, Wild World, last week. Despite listening to it on repeat for the past several days, I had entirely failed to notice that one of their songs was aptly named "An Act Of Kindness." Cue blog...


Firstly, here's the opening verse:


An act of kindness

Is what you show to me

Not more than I can take

Oh, not more than I can take

Kindness is what you show to me

It holds me 'till I ache

Overflow and start to break


My immediate thoughts on the way in which these lyrics are written were that this act of kindness was a pretty life changing experience for this person. The 'good deed', whatever it was, overwhelmed them in its generosity, its meaningfulness. As a side note, we never find out what this kind act is so if that annoys you, sorry. Let's take a look at the bridge now:


Oh I, got a feeling this will shake me down

Oh I, kind of hoping this will turn me round


Once again, this makes the act of kindness fairly monumental. Whatever it is appears to be going to have a profound impact on the way in which this person lives their life. In fact, it may even turn their life around. Now, I'm not pretending that giving up your seat on a bus or helping an old lady cross the road is going to have this sort of impact but it is undeniable that at times small acts can in fact have a huge effect on the recipient. Take giving some money to a homeless person: sure, some of them may spend it on food (or drugs if you're pessimistic) but others may be saving up to buy an outfit for a job interview in the hope of getting off the street. The point is that you never know how an act of kindness is going to truly impact someone else's life. And if it's no skin off your nose to perform it, what have you got to lose?


Now, I'm not a massive fan of the chorus of this song. It's the line "and now it follows me every day" which in itself is fine. But they repeat it eight times. Which is about six times too many. The sentiment, however repetitive, is that this act of kindness had a profound and long lasting effect on the person. The generosity of one individual in a single moment may be fleeting but the ripple effect can last far longer and become exponentially more powerful.


Onto the second verse:


An act of kindness

Is what you show to me

It caught me by surprise in this town of glass and ice

Kindness, so many people pass me by

But you warm me to my core and you left me wanting more


For some reason this made me thing of homeless people, hence the inclusion of the earlier analogy. Because let's face it, most of us do pass homeless people by. I certainly do in Cambodia because if I was to give some money to one person I would be instantly surrounded by tens of other people all wanting the same handout. This may be an extreme example but I do believe that the global problem of homelessness is something few people are willing to address. I wrote a blog a while ago, incidentally, about how we can best help homeless people. And that last line: left me wanting more. Wanting more money? More food? Or more out of life?


Back to the bridge with an extra couple of lines:


Oh I got a feeling this will shake me down

Oh I kind of hoping this will turn me round

Oh I got a feeling that however slow

Oh I kind of hoping this will reach my soul


This act, whatever it was, goes beyond the perfunctory. It affected the person. It changed them in some unknown, fundamental way. It admittedly went further than most random acts of kindness ever will and spurred this person into action. At least, they hope it will.


The third verse goes like this:


Oh my back's up against the wall

I feel guilty, I feel guilty

You want nothing in return

I feel guilty, I feel guilty

Oh my back's up against the wall

I feel guilty, I feel guilty

Want nothing in return

I feel guilty, I feel guilty


This is the final set of lyrics I'm going to pull apart. There are three concepts here. Firstly, the person feels trapped, by what we don't know. Secondly, the kind person is doing this act purely because they think it's the right thing to do. They want nothing in return; the very definition of a selfless good deed. And finally, although so much of this song was talking about the positive impact this deed had on the person, they also feel guilty. Because they can't truly ever thank the person enough for what they have done? Or because they don't believe they deserve the act of kindness?


Go, listen, experience. More Good Deeds.