The Flaming Lips’ heartfelt song “Do You Realize??” is also, perhaps, their most well-known. With nearly 4,000,000 views on YouTube, “Do You Realize??” asks us to think about life and how short it can be. It also urges us to experience life as best we can, and understand that its fleeting nature should inspire us to express our appreciation to our loved ones.
The lyrics may seem morose at first glance. But once you listen to the song, especially multiple times, the way in which everything comes together delivers a rather uplifting message.
The song opens with the following stanza:
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?
Singer/songwriter Wayne Coyne is asking us some relatively simple questions. And since he precedes the questions with, “Do you realize?” the answers should all clearly be, “yes.”
I think that Coyne is trying to make us all examine our lives and recognize that, though at times it can be difficult, life is relatively simple. Everyone on this planet hurling through space is beautiful in one way or another; happiness, indeed, can bring us to tears; and everyone will eventually die. And though the last thought is always a tough one to wrap our heads around, it’s true. So it’s important that we use our time on this planet as purposefully as we can, and treat those we love with kindness and compassion. Because we never know how long we’ll have them.
The way in which the song is arranged (e.g. asking us if we really understand life’s certainties) gives it a much more positive outlook than a sad one. Though only a few questions are explicitly asked in the song itself, it applies to many aspects of our lives. Essentially the song tells us that life doesn’t have to be a complex maze we must navigate through. Many of the pressures we feel in life are largely a construct of society, and “Do You Realize??” asks us to think about those pressures.
The song continues:
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
Here Coyne is making the case that life is relatively short and goes by too fast. But this should not be cause for sadness. Instead, once you accept how quickly life goes by, that knowledge can inspire you to go out and “live” your life to the best of your ability. Good times don’t last forever. But this shouldn’t be viewed as an unfortunate certainty. Rather, the good times should be celebrated, and the simple fact that we can distinguish between “good” and “bad” times should be met with open arms.
It is vital to communicate to your loved ones and the people you care about how special they are and how important they’ve been to you throughout the years. I think “Do You Realize??” points this out in a beautiful, uplifting way. Life is fleeting, and none of us can pinpoint exactly when it will end. Once we recognize this, it can make our lives much more fulfilling.
You can find the lyrics for “Do You Realize??” here.
Below you can find the music video for “Do You Realize??”