Five Songs That Changed My Life… 2. Do You Realize? by The Flaming Lips

Five Songs That Changed My Life… 2. Do You Realize? by The Flaming Lips

During high school I used to work at a local guitar shop in Bethesda, Maryland. We made most of our bread and butter by offering lessons out of the back rooms, and one of the fathers of a student happened to be the former manager of The Flaming Lips. While he would wait for his daughter, he would tell me stories of the band and give me advice about anything to do with the music industry. But one day he came in and imparted to me the record Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots.

The record became the unlikely soundtrack to my life for weeks, maybe even months, but the song that has stood the test of my attention all these years was “Do You Realize?!”. The topic of mortality is not one that any teenager is interested in, nor could possibly fathom. I was invincible, and life was not worth living past 29 anyway. But one summer day, I remember when it all changed as I sat under the tree by the river, looked up, and listened:


“Do You Realize?  That you have the most beautiful face

Do You Realize?  We’re floating in space –

Do You Realize? That happiness makes you cry

Do You Realize? That everyone you know someday will die

And instead of saying all of your goodbyes, let them know

You realize that life goes fast

It’s hard to make the good things last

You realize the sun doesn’t go down

It’s just an illusion caused by the world spinning round


As the psychedelic medley of instruments pushed on to the inspired words of Wayne Coyne, I felt a very strange sensation of new understanding of the world that was around me- the realization of how small I truly was and how the time is just passing away without regard for anyone’s youth or woes. I sat under that tree and played the song over and over in the my head, thinking about the time I had, the people I loved, and what I planned to do to make it the best life I could possibly make it.

But most of all, the song to me opened the idea that time is not in a natural state divided- we divide it by days, weeks, years, seconds. Time to us is like an endless tray of ice cubes when it is really a steady river with no end and no beginning in sight, all the moments touching one another. Listening to that song in a way made me feel just a little closer to the universe and gave me just a little more peace of mind that while it is all out of my control, that is what makes it all the more beautiful.


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Similar Artists: The Beatles, Animal Collective, Of Montreal