#8 - Literary essay

The outsider
For centuries, psychologists have emphasized that the sense of belonging is a human need, just as the need for food and shelter. Yet there have always been individuals who do not belong because of political, ethnic, sexual or religious differences. This provokes a feeling of loneliness, of living surrounded by people and alone at the same time. The idea that there are –and have been- outsiders in our society is reflected in many famous singers´ lyrics such as U2, Sting and Elton John.
In his song “An Englishman in New York”, Sting presents an English gay author living in New York and his experiences as an outcast. The famous Quentin Crisp, who moved from London to New York in 1986, defined himself as “an alien”. As his costumes, modals and homosexual lifestyle were not the popular ones at that time, he did not belong to the society, he was not part of it. People ignored him and this made him suffer, as it is clearly reflected when he says “it takes a man to suffer ignorance and smile”. This song set in the 80s perfectly showed how people judged homosexual men and set them apart just because they were not like the rest, they were outsiders. But not only men were judged, gay women were subjects of judgement as well.
Another look into the gay lifestyle of that decade is presented in “All the girls love Alice”, written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin. In this case, they present a 16 year old upper class English lesbian who slept with older married women and was, of course, unaccepted in society. Although women claimed to love her, they forced her to maintain her relationships as secret, hiding Alice from their husbands and family:
All the young girls love Alice
Tender young Alice, they say
If I give you my number
Will you promise to call me?
Wait till my husband's away.
As it is said that she was finally found in the subway dead, Inferences about her sad, lonely and difficult life are not hard to make. Again, because of sexual differences, an outsider is encountered in society. The fact is that not only because of being gay were individuals left apart and judged, but also because of the place where they lived.
Bono, from U2, claimed that in Belfast, Africa it was possible to categorize people only by knowing the street where they lived. In the song “Where the streets have no name”, he talks about “tearing down the walls” which divide the city into rich and poor, catholic and protestant, etc. He promotes destroying the existing barriers among human beings and stop judging, stop isolating people who differ from the rest, who do not fit into the standards established by society.
All in all, there are no doubts left that many song lyrics reflect the existence of outsiders in society despite the place, moment and time they were written. Reasons for preventing individuals from belonging to a group are related to ethnic, religious, sexual or political differences. Being aware of this and eliminating discriminative attitudes towards people who may not be or think like us, can avoid them suffering and pain. Empathy is a very valuable characteristic for every human being in this world. 

ü  Elton John, “All the young girls love Alice” by Bernie Taupin and Elton John.
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. Music Corporation of America, 1973.

ü  Sting, “Englishman in New York” by Gordon Matthew and Thomas Summer.
Nothing like the sun. A&M Records, 1988.

ü  U2, “Where the streets have no name” by Bono, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen.
The Joshua Tree, Island Records, 1987.

ü  Hall, Karyn. (2014) “Creating a sense of belonging”

ü  Jones, David. (2007) “All the girls love Alice”

ü  Wawzenek, Bryan. (2017) “U2 Gets Cinematic on ‘Where the Streets Have No Name': The Story Behind Every ‘Joshua Tree’ Song”

ü  Ellen, Beka. (2016) “Englishman in New York”