I can remember the first time I ever heard or saw a Bjork song. Specifically.
I was sitting close to the front of the TV–watching MTV. At the time, my parents didn’t want me watching MTV, so I often did it sneakily. A video came on that captured my attention in a way I’ll never forget.
I was around 13 years old and it was the video Human Behavior. It included a person in a teddy-bear suit and a romp through a colorful, cartoon-esque forest.
This interesting-looking woman was singing in a way I’d never before heard–like a howl or wail, at times. I thought it was strange, but I was fascinated, drawn in. I liked it, even though I felt like I shouldn’t. Remember–I was 13 years old, which is the absolute height of trying to “fit in” with other kids. I didn’t want to like weird music. But I loved the song, and the video stayed in my mind, even now, twenty years later.
I lived in a small town in the Midwest–not exactly a place where people embraced experimental art. It took years for me to accept that it was ok to like a musician many of my peers thought was stupid and weird because she wore unusual outfits and sang strangely.
Why am I talking about Bjork? Because I want to ask you: what was your Human Behavior? What song, piece of art, dance, actor, film, or artist left a permanent mark on your mind & heart deeply when you were young? Can you still see it when you close your eyes? And did you feel like you shouldn’t like it, because it was “not normal”?
I feel like Bjork is an intensely creative, sensitive, feeling, and free person who needs to express. (Of course, I don’t truly know any of this; it’s just how I feel about her as an artist.) You don’t have to like her outputs, but I believe sincere artistic effort should be respected. Nowadays, after being on the scene nearly 30 years, she is pretty much universally heralded. She just had a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC, for goodness’ sakes! A TIME magazine article listed her as one of the 100 most influential icons in the world. Marina Abramović, an artist, wrote:
“[Björk] teaches us the courage to be ourselves.”
Instead of being on the fringe, she’s now accepted. Maybe my teenage self wasn’t wrong for liking her, after all. Maybe it’s ok to like things that are experimental and “not normal”. Her current world-wide acceptance and accolades makes me realize that being yourself is worth it.
I wonder how it feels to be able to express yourself without any restrictions, any embarrassment or emotional hangups? I envy it. And maybe that is part of why I like her. I see and feel her unrestraint and desire it for myself.
Lessons we can take away from this: Don’t push down your sensitivity and creativity due to fear of being laughed at or ostracized. Who cares what other people think? The disapproval of others is nothing compared to the lightness and energy you will feel by expressing your true self.
And maybe, someday, you’ll end up in the MoMA. 🙂