Two songs in one day! This one, Wishful Thinkers (MP3, lyrics) is brand new. Freshly written today, I’ve only played it a few times. And if the freshness alone isn’t enough to interest you, it has not one, but two literary references. The first is to Amy Tan’s Saving Fish from Drowning, which I haven’t read, but Jessica has and she told me the story from which the title comes. The idea is that there are fishermen who are trying to save fish from drowning, but they’re always just a little too late, as the fish die shortly after being saved. I thought it was a funny story and a good analogy for solving problems that don’t exist and confusing hurting with helping, two forms of wishful thinking.
The second is the myth of Daedalus and Icarus, which I don’t think I’ve ever read either, but it’s a common enough story that I have a rough idea of how it goes. It’s a desperate failed attempt to overcome problems by cleverness alone, another form of wishful thinking. This one killed a person instead of fish.
I don’t think wishful thinking is a bad thing. I like to imagine myself a wishful thinker (hence the lyrics of "We’re wishful thinkers," not "You’re wishful thinkers"). But I’m increasingly noticing wishful thinking going too far in situations where "it’s not gonna’ help this time." For example: