Lab Tracks

Mad Lab Track: What If No One’s Watching

Ani Di Franco was an artist I missed the first time around — I was too busy with Alanis Morissette and No Doubt during the mid-90s — but I’m slowly starting to discover her, her amazing guitar playing, and her incredibly insightful lyrics.

Here’s one with a sort of atheist edge, comparing the idea of a life guided by a god to a movie with an audience — but movies are perfect, and our lives aren’t. What if nobody’s watching your movie?

What if No One’s Watching
Ani DiFranco

If my life were a movie
There would be a sunset
And the camera would pan away
But the sky is just a little sister
Tagging along behind the buildings
Trying to imitate their grey
The little boys are breaking bottles
Along the sidewalk
The big boys, too
The girls are hanging out at the candy store
Pumping quarters into the phone
‘Cause they don’t want to go home

And I think,
What if no one’s watching
What it when we’re dead, we’re just dead
What if it’s just us down here
What if god ain’t looking down
What if he’s looking up instead

If my life were a movie
I would light a cigarette
And the smoke would curl around my face
Everything I do would be interesting
I’d play the good guy
In every scene
But I always feel I have to
Take a stand
And there’s always someone on hand
To hate me for standing there
I always feel I have to open my mouth
And every time I do
I offend someone

But what
What if no one’s watching
What if when we’re dead, we’re just dead
What if there’s no time to lose
What if there’s things we gotta do
Things that need to be said

You know I can’t apologize
For everything I know
I mean you don’t have to agree with me
But once you get me going
You better just let me go
We have to be able to criticize
What we love
Say what we have to say
‘Cause if you’re not trying to make something better
As far as I can tell
You’re just in the way

I mean what
What if no one’s watching
What if when we’re dead
We’re just dead
What if it’s just us down here
What if god is just an idea
Someone put in your head

I mean what
What if no one’s watching
What if no one’s watching

This has been another installment of Monday Lab Tracks. Send us your musical recommendations through our contact link at the top of the page, and tell us what you think of the song in the comments below!

Ashley Hamer

Ashley Hamer (aka Smashley) is a saxophonist and writer living in Chicago, where she performs regularly with the funk band FuzZz and jazz ensemble Big Band Boom. She also does standup comedy, sort of, sometimes. Her tenor saxophone's name is Ladybird.

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One Comment

  1. Love Ani. If you haven’t already I’d recommend the live album “Living in Clip”. It’s one of the best live albums I’ve heard and I think the 3 piece setting really allows her guitar playing and songwriting to shine through. There’s also a “hidden” track where she tells a really funny story about some Christian folk singers.

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