Minute Meditation on the Manifestations of the “Existential Vacuum” in Popular, American Culture: The Song “Is That All There Is?”

The Title of the Song by Peggy Lee
Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller wrote the lyrics to the soul-searching song “Is That All There Is?” It was made popular in American culture by Peggy Lee in 1969. The song’s major theme is there must be something more to life than that big, beautiful house; that nice car, that fine woman; that handsome man; that well-paying job; expensive jewelry and even death itself.
When a person finally “has it all,” then, deep inside, “welling up” from within, the profound human questions, the existential questions, come to the surface, to consciousness: “Is that all there is?” “Isn’t there more to life than that?” That pursuit is not everything it was made out to be! As Viktor Frank notes in his book The Unheard Cry for Meaning, when such a person finally achieves “success,” “having it all,” then that person, being dissatisfied, asks, ”’What has all my success been for?'”
Then comes the “haunting” line of the song: “I had the feeling that something was missing. I don’t know what….” Might that feeling be, in Frankl’s words, “the existential vacuum,” the experience of an inner emptiness, a lack or loss “of an ultimate meaning to one’s existence that would make life worthwhile[?]”
The song is very thought-provoking, introspective. I dare you to listen to it, focusing on the lyrics! Then ask yourself, “What’s it all about?” “Is there a meaning to life?” Is it, in the words of William Shakespeare, “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing?” I think not!

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