“No Man is an Island” reminds us that we are designed for community. We find we are whole when we share our lives with others: “it is not good for man to be alone.” In particular, we’re reminded that this is true even when being with others is difficult: “I won’t run, I will stay / I’m not leaving you / I know there’s friction here / The struggle makes us new.”
The video itself nicely portrays this progression with shots of the guys from the groups moving singling or around people but isolated to them coming on stage together as a group. It extends the motif with a number of shots of live concerts where the audience is interacting with the band – it is coming and responding together that makes the live concert great: “No man is an island, we can be found / No man is an island, let your guard down / You don’t have to fight me, I am for you / We’re not meant to live this life alone.”
While it’s obvious, I also like how the video makes it clear that the community includes family. You see a man (it appears to be drummer Jason Jamison) showing off his child on his iPhone. We are connected with our family, our friends, those with common interests like the concert goers and work mates like the band. The final shot of the video brings that home with a look at the whole band.
Musically, the song underpins the meaning by beginning with clearly separated beats and solo singing by Mike Donehey with separated phrasing of each line with a pause between each phrase making each phrase an island. It then morphs into a coordinated refrain with first guitars, then the other band members joining in and finally culminating in a harmonized “Through trouble, rain, or fire / Let’s reach out to something higher / Ain’t no life outside each other / We are not alone.”
One aspect of Mr. Donehey’s singing that I especially appreciate is his ability to clearly articulate the lyrics so that they’re clear, while not giving up the ability to convey emotion in both emphasis and pacing. Overall, the bands willingness to truly play as an ensemble helps this as well. This quality of the band is brought out in spades by “No Man is an Island.” This song is a great reminder as we celebrate a new year that working together in community, supporting one another, and working on our relationships, even when it’s hard, will make 2015 a better year.