A Few Songs About ‘Who Are You’?

The Theory of Personal Intelligence begins with the idea–drawn from evolutionary psychology–that we have evolved to  ask  questions such as “Who are you?” (and “Who am I”). The better we can answer them, the more effective we’ll be in our relationships with other people.

Like many important topics in our lives, this interest is also expressed in the arts, including in music. Below are three musical approaches to the question “Who are you?”

First up, the song “Getting to Know You,”  composed by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein for the musical “The King and I.” The song is sung by a school teacher to her pupils in the original Broadway musical.

I’ve created links to several performances of the song.

The first is by the musician James Taylor, which you can listen to here.

The Boston and New York-based soprano Elise Figa provides a more traditional treatment of the song. Her opening comments refer to the new meaning the song’s lyrics have taken on for her since she began teaching music in New York City.

You also can hear the piece in a classical arrangement performed by the Bach Chamber Choir (see below) on May 21, 2010.

Pete Townshend of the rock band, The Who, addressed the same question in his composition,  “Who Are You?” Here, the narrator of the song has picked himself up from a Soho doorway the morning after a rough night. He’s wondering who brought him to his sorry state.  The band’s performance  became a rock and roll hit and was later used as the opening theme to the television program CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. The live version below was performed by the band in 1989 in Los Angeles.

Please note that this performance includes language that some may find offensive.

Sometimes we may think we know all about person we’re with, when, in fact, we don’t know as much as we think we do. This is dramatized beautifully and with a knowing sense of humor in the next performance. The song “You Don’t Know Me,” was composed by Ben Folds and is performed by Folds and Regina Spektor, on Late Night with Jimmy Kimmel

And that’s a wrap!