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Teen Mothers Find Creative Expression

Updated on October 1, 2014

Merry Go Round

photo by D. Cole Aparo
photo by D. Cole Aparo

Teen Mothers find expression

Many of today’s teens are disillusioned by life as the storybooks and media tell them fabled folklores. However, reality always reveals itself to illustrate a harsh alternative side. It is easy for a teen to become cynical when the enchanted fairytale anecdote they read about becomes a lie. Even though marriage can be a wonderful institution for two people in love, it should not be an escape from social unhappiness. As teens learn about marriage through the media and their parent’s example they deserve to have a safe and loving home that builds a solid foundation. Unfortunately many teen mothers do not have this security. Many of today’s daughters end up pregnant, married and as high school dropouts. Country music’s Kacey Musgraves has written a song about the popular American condition of teen pregnancy, with the occasional hasty marriage of young adults in today’s society.

Today’s youths may benefit from this type of song by learning from example. Young mothers are able to relate to lyrics that allow them to find creative expression within the contemporary rural society, such as the song “Merry Go ‘Round” that changes attitudes and offers a voice to those daughters who have none.

In an age of reality television and multi-media the country music song, once again, provides the world with a snapshot of real life in an American rural contemporary society. The song was co-written with Josh Osborne and Shane McAnally — the album was co-produced by Kacey, McAnally and Luke Laird. The song lyrics express how many young women today feel compelled to start a family at an early age and join the cycle of life, or as Musgraves would say the “Merry Go Round.”

This sense of urgency emanates from feelings of insecurity and a need to feel connected to family. If they come from a broken family unit, then they can simply create their own rendition of the modern nuclear family. The ballad shows how life turns unexpectedly when families are not united. Each family member has their own agenda, and has no regard for the others. Young girls are left to their own devices and become pregnant to fill a void of emptiness within their lives. Many young females are left without family support, and look for the love that is missing in their lives. They may hang onto the baby’s daddy, or move in with another man. The young mother or “mother-to-be” may hastily marry young believing that it is better to settle then to be alone.

The “Merry Go ‘Round” lyrics help young people to manifest a scenario of what life could be like when giving up their adolescents for marriage and family at a young age, and can often times transform that teen’s attitude on giving up their youth.

Merry Go 'Round

If you ain't got two kids by 21,
You're probably gonna die alone
At least that's what tradition told you.
And it don't matter if you don't believe,
Come Sunday morning you best be there
In the front row, like you're s'posed to.
Same hurt in every heart.
Same trailer, different park.
Mama’s hooked on Mary Kay
Brother’s hooked on Mary Jane
And Daddy's hooked on Mary two doors down.
Mary Mary quite contrary,
We get bored so we get married
And just like dust we settle in this town.
On this broken merry go 'round and 'round and 'round we go,
Where it stops nobody knows...
And it ain't slowin' down, this merry go 'round...
We think the first time's good enough,
So we hold on to high school love,
Say we won't end up like our parents.
Tiny little boxes in a row,
Ain't what you want it's what you know,
Just happy in the shoes you're wearin'.
Same checks we're always cashin',
To buy a little more distraction.
Cause Mama's hooked on Mary Kay
Brother’s hooked on Mary Jane
Daddy's hooked on Mary two doors down.
Mary Mary quite contrary,
We get bored so we get married
And just like dust we settle in this town.
On this broken merry go 'round and 'round and 'round we go,
Where we stop nobody knows...
And it ain't slowin' down, this merry go 'round...
Mary Mary quite contrary,
We're so bored until we're buried.
And just like dust we settle in this town.
On this broken merry go 'round...
Merry go 'round...
Jack and Jill went up the hill,
Jack burned out on booze and pills,
And Mary had a little lamb,
Mary just don't give a damn no more (Musgraves, 2012).

This song is an anecdote of how the vicious cycle of life, with all its dysfunctional attributes, is equated to a broken merry-go-round. The song has many allegories, such as “Mary-Mary Quite Contrary” being the rebellious daughter who marries young and starts a family before she has time to grow up. The word “Merry” in the song holds many meanings; “marry” for early marriages, “Mary-Jane” for the brother’s own vices, and “Mary” for the father’s duplicitous behavior, and “Mary-Kay” for the mother's make-up, perhaps the ‘mask’ that she wears to hide her own disenchantment that was caused by her husband’s cheating. Finally, “Mary-Mary Quite Contrary” is the writer, with her own expression, speaking out about society’s ‘trapped’ and disenchanted daughters. This ballad’s intent is to warn all daughters to take notice and to learn from the mistakes of others through the fundamental elements of these lyrics.

Reality is harsher to the dreary daughter than to the enchanted heroine who has a charmed and perfect life, and who never knows the bitter pain of disenchantment. A disenchanted daughter can often times become overlooked in life’s harsh realities. Young teen mothers can instead become inspired through the process of creative expression—that a county song lyric such as “Merry Go ‘Round” can advocate. A young woman’s outlook is able to become altered by responding to those emotional aspects within a song of suffering; a song they could perhaps relate to. Lyrics are a form of poetry that is used for creative expression within contemporary society which help to shape a connection between the artist and audience, forming a union with others who also struggle with negative feelings.

Nancy Scherlong, CSW, Child & Family Therapist and Registered Poetry Therapist (http://www.goodtherapy.org/nancy-scherlong-therapist.php) write how the reading and writing of poetry, as well as journal-keeping, are valuable forms of poetry therapy, particularly for teens; this writing assists in the exploration of those issues on paper—it is a powerful vehicle in the search for identity (Klein, 2004). County music lyrics are the same form of poetry, and they achieve the same result. The lyrics to “Merry Go ‘Round” deal with rural life for daughters who are seeking direction and guidance. They find this by simulating or relating to those negative choices others have made through a song about a world of disenchantment.

Much how the ill-fated “Jack and Jill went up the hill/Jack burned out on booze and pills/And Mary had a little lamb/Mary just don't give a damn no more,” the song boasts how “where we stop nobody knows…” is likened to real life consequences. Musgraves reveals to “American Songwriter” that the song “Merry Go ‘Round” is one that everyone grows up with, and that there are many expectations of breaking the cycle of life as we know it and trying to appear as if all is perfect under the surface—“Coming from a small, conservative Texas town I’ve grown up with this. We’re all guilty of having something that keeps us distracted—no matter the vice. Our comfort zones make us settle and I think there’s hope in knowing that everyone has felt this way” (Schlansky, 2012).

Reality can be unpredictable and nothing like the myths from the enchanted fairytales, but writing this type of song, and especially listening to and immersing oneself into the representation of this rural life can actually be healing. Having camaraderie with others like oneself can lift the heavy burden of loneliness and perhaps the pain of abandonment that most teens feel. Life runs its cycle just like a merry-go-round; we are born into unpredictable circumstances, and "like the dust we settle in this world, and then we die, as the world turns, around and around, “and it ain’t slowin’ down, this merry go ‘round…” (Musgraves, 2012).

The lyrics of “Merry Go ‘Round” by Kacey Musgraves are beneficial for all young mothers and daughters in today’s world. The advantage of expressing oneself can be healing. Perhaps today’s disenchanted daughters have much to gain from this type of song. The expression “knowledge is power” expounds on the benefits of learning by example. Today’s young daughters will connect to lyrics such as “Merry Go ‘Round” that allow them to find their own creative expression. They are able to seize their own reins on life’s merry-go-round and bridle their impulses instead of letting their impulses “bridal” them down the wedding aisle.

References

Klein, P., MSW. (2004). The national association for poetry therapy (NAPT). Retrieved March 14, 2013, from http://www.poetrytherapy.org/pdf/IntegrativeMedicinePacket.pdf .

Musgraves, K. (2012). Merry go 'round. Retrieved March 13, 2013, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iJjeWDvh6J0.

Musgraves, K. (2013). Merry Go 'Round. Retrieved March 12, 2013, from KACEY MUSGRAVES Lyrics website: http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/kaceymusgraves/merrygoround.html.

Schlansky, E. (2012, September 27). Kacey Musgraves talks “merry go ‘round”. Retrieved March 12, 2013, from http://www.americansongwriter.com/2012/09/Kacey-Musgraves-talks-merry-go-round/.

http://smarturl.it/KaceySTDPiT?IQid=VidD

Merry Go Round by Kacey Musgraves

Teen Pregnancy Facts

1. Three in ten teen American girls will get pregnant at least once before age 20. That’s nearly 750,000 teen pregnancies every year.

2. Parenthood is the leading reason that teen girls drop out of school. More than 50% of teen mothers never graduate from high school.

3. About 25% of teen moms have a 2nd child within 24 months of their first baby.

4. Less than 2% of teen moms earn a college degree by age 30.

5. The United States has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the western industrialized world.

6. In 2011, the teen birthrate in the United States fell to the lowest level recorded in nearly 70 years of tracking teen childbearing.

7. In 2008 the teen pregnancy rate among African-American and Hispanic teen girls, age 15 to 19, was over two and a half times higher than the teen pregnancy rate among white teen girls of the same age group.

8. Eight out of ten teen dads don’t marry the mother of their child.

9. A sexually active teen that doesn’t use contraceptives has a 90% chance of becoming pregnant within a year.

10. Almost 50% of teens have never considered how a pregnancy would affect their lives.

11. Teens had fewer babies in 2010 than in any year since the mid-1940s.


Resources

https://www.dosomething.org/facts/11-facts-about-teen-pregnancy

http://www.cdc.gov/TeenPregnancy/AboutTeenPreg.htm

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    • handymanbill profile image

      Bill 2 years ago from western pennsylvania

      Good information. Nicely done.