Searching

Elegantly Wasted was the last album Michael Hutchence made with INXS before his untimely death in 1997. Prior to recording this album, Michael had been fervently working on his solo project, as well as enjoying first-time fatherhood with his daughter, Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily Hutchence. He was also getting more heavily involved in acting and had reportedly even been in talks with Quentin Tarantino. It has been well-documented that this was a tumultuous time in Michael’s life with the British paparazzi constantly hounding him and intruding into his personal life. It’s no wonder that Michael found refuge in the world of acting where he could take on another persona and escape from the stress he was experiencing. Additionally,  his prolific songwriting undoubtedly served as a cathartic outlet, helping to soothe his troubled mind. Many songs on both Elegantly Wasted and Michael’s solo album carry themes of soul-searching and introspection, making it clear that his fragile mental and emotional states were weighing heavily upon him. In fact, it was while he was on tour for the Elegantly Wasted album that Michael Hutchence tragically took his own life.

Michael’s death shocked and saddened people all over the world as they tried to come to grips with understanding how this could have happened. Over twenty years later, we still are not sure what actually happened on that fateful morning in Sydney, Australia. However, there are a few things we do know, the most prominent being that Michael had sustained a severe brain injury back in 1992 and, by many accounts, hadn’t been the same person since. As part of his brain injury,  Michael had lost his sense of taste and smell, and this had a devastating impact on his mental and emotional state.

Recently, Michael’s sister, Tina Hutchence, began a campaign to make people aware of the side effects of traumatic brain injury or “TBI.” As someone who was very close to him, Tina feels strongly that, like many who suffer from TBI, Michael succumbed to the depression and suicidal thoughts that manifested after his injury. Raising awareness of TBI is key to helping others who are suffering from the debilitating physical, mental, and emotional side effects of head trauma.

The song, Searching, exudes a beautifully soulful vibe throughout and resonates with those of us who are on a spiritual quest to become more self-aware so that we can move forward in unity as a whole and healed human race.

I AM SEARCHING

I AM NOT ALONE

I AM SEARCHING

PLEASE GIVE ME SOME

HAVE WE LOST DIRECTION

WASHED OUR HANDS OF BLOOD

I’M IN NEED OF SENSATION

IS THERE MORE TO THIS LOVE

SAW A MOTHER SCREAMING

SHE HAD LOST CONTROL

OF WHAT SHE ONCE BELIEVED IN

AND SHE WAS NOT ALONE

OH YEAH

IF YOU COULD FACE THE PAIN

AND I COULD DO THE SAME

IT WOULD BE CLEAR TOMORROW

BUT WILL IT START

BUT WILL IT START AGAIN

I AM SEARCHING

I AM NOT ALONE

I AM SEARCHING

PLEASE SHOW ME SOME

SAW A MOTHER SCREAMING

SHE HAD LOST CONTROL

OF WHAT SHE ONCE BELIEVED IN

AND SHE WAS NOT ALONE

HAVE WE LOST DIRECTION

WASHED OUR HANDS OF BLOOD

I’M IN NEED OF SENSATION

IS THERE MORE TO THIS LOVE

IF YOU COULD FACE THE PAIN

AND I COULD DO THE SAME

IT WOULD BE CLEAR TOMORROW

BUT WILL IT START

BUT WILL IT START AGAIN

I AM SEARCHING

I AM NOT ALONE

I AM SEARCHING

PLEASE SHOW ME SOME

I AM SEARCHING

I AM NOT ALONE

I AM SEARCHING

PLEASE SHOW ME SOME (LOVE)

Within the first two lines of the song, we are reminded that when we feel a sense of desperation and isolation, we are not alone. It’s important for us to keep this in mind as we try to muddle our way through the pitfalls of life. We’re all in this together, and none of us got where we are today without the help of others.

Several of the lyrics throughout the song seem to be both a personal and universal cry for help. The lyrics are a desperate plea for us all to wake up out of our stress-induced stupor, and reject the more synthetic and superficial components of life. Michael asks if we “Have we lost direction, washed our hands of blood” questioning whether or not we are truly holding ourselves accountable for our own spiritual growth.

Given what we now understand about Michael’s TBI and his diminished senses of taste and smell, the line “I’m in need of sensation” is powerful in both a literal and metaphorical sense, with a symbolic indictment of human complacency representing the latter.  Michael then asks, “Is there more to this love?” and we can assume that he is not referencing romantic love, but universal compassion for others.

In the second verse, Michael references a “mother” who is “screaming” because “she had lost control of what she once believed in.” By deliberately focusing on a despairing mother, it’s possible that Michael is calling out the misogynistic societal imperative which suggests that women, especially mothers, should be able to easily maintain the impossible balancing act of caring for family, keeping an orderly household, and pursuing an unwavering focus on their careers. This unrealistic expectation upon women is toxic, yet many subscribe to it on a subconscious level, internalize it and then lose themselves in the process. We are reminded that this mother, like the narrator, is not alone in her suffering.

In the next lines, Michael is suggesting that there is solace to be found in confronting and slaying our demons as we try to “face the pain,” and that mutual support and empathy for one another may help us achieve that. “I could do the same.”

In the age of Big Pharma, mental health issues, including TBI-induced depression, are often treated by prescription meds. While this can sometimes be an appropriate antidote, Michael’s lyrics give us a glimpse into the darker side of treatment, when one’s continued struggles are only compounded by dependence and shame at the inability to “face the pain” without anesthetizing. 

The ups and downs of life are referenced next as Michael touches upon the sense of fleeting relief we feel when we seek out support and help from others, only to wonder if that sneaking sense of impending dread and doom will rear its ugly head yet again. “It would be clear tomorrow but will it start again?” When we feel overwhelmed like this, it’s important to remember to take it one day at a time so that we don’t succumb to our feelings of anxiety and discontentment.

If we truly want to try to help ourselves out of the pits of despair, we must dig deep and allow ourselves the time and space to grow if we are going to rehabilitate our souls in the most organic and meditative manner possible. A sincere and forgiving examination of self will set us free (well, at least for 99% of us… the plutocratic 1% are likely a lost cause). Can you imagine the kind of power we could amass on a large scale if we all took the time to seek out our inner truths and discard the contrived agendas we feel we must adhere to in our daily grind? We would be an unstoppable force of love and light that would raise human consciousness to a new level of awareness. We must recognize that as we heal ourselves, we heal the world.

We all have sacred, spiritual light within us that burns bright with compassion and love. That light never goes out, but sometimes we forget that it’s there, and we act out of expediency, rage, ill-intent, greed, and insincerity. We get caught up and lose sight of that light, sometimes allowing ourselves to be blinded by it as we run in the opposite direction, ending up lost, confused, and exasperated. When we get to this point, we have no recollection of how to tap back into that light and love source within. It’s here that complacency sets in. How can we help others when we can’t even help ourselves?

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