Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Collective Soul: It's not about the song
The rock band Collective Soul told CNN Wednesday that they were startled to learn that their song "Shine" was a favorite of Cho Sueng-Hui, the Virginia Tech killer.

His roommates said Cho listened to the song over and over, even inscribing the lyrics on the wall of their dormitory room.

"It is an enormous tragedy and we deeply regret the loss of life," the band members said in a statement given to CNN by band manager Jordan Feldstein.

"The issue is not about the song," he said. "It is about the innocent lives that were lost that we regret deeply, as do all Americans."

"Shine" was written by Ed Roland, the band's lead singer.

Some of the lyrics that the taciturn student pored over include:
"Teach me how to speak
Teach me how to share
Teach me where to go
Tell me will love be there (love be there)
Oh, heaven let your light shine down."

-- From CNN's Wynn Westmoreland
Posted By CNN: 4:09 PM ET
  22 Comments
It is about the song, clearly there was a cry, this became a mantra, as if to somehow save him. Did anyone hear?
Posted By Anonymous Carol McFarlane, Yakima, WA : 5:18 PM ET
I never construed the lyrics of any Collective Soul songs to be anything but positive. There is nothing to dissect here-the guy was completely insane and he did an absolutely horrible thing. The victims' families and friends deserve a chance to grieve and heal. Can we leave them alone now?
Posted By Anonymous Debbie, Denham Springs, LA : 5:23 PM ET
They're right. It's not about the song. It's too complicated to try to relive someone's thoughts. He obviously had to hear this repeated over and over within his mind. And only the killer would be able to answer what these words swirling around his head meant to him. None it will bring the victims back. I personally would like to know the victims favorite songs and the lyrics that meant something to them. Songs they will never hear again. Let's remember the vibrant people cut down for no reason by a man who perhaps needed help, but made others pay for his sickness. No, "it's not about the song." Take Care
Posted By Anonymous Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif. : 5:27 PM ET
Why is this even in the news? What a waste of your time, my time, and the especially the reporters time. The reporter could have used the time to research and write an article of merit. Thanks for stretching and creating news where there isn't.
Posted By Anonymous Mike Funk, Charlottesville, VA : 5:40 PM ET
Now let's just step back and imagine this had been a Marilyn Manson, Eminem or Ozzie Osbourne song. How many cries about rock and roll or violence inducing rap would we have heard? Hopefully this is a good example that someone with a violent demeanor may be obsessed with music or video games but that it may not be the music or game that instigated the offense.
Posted By Anonymous Mike in Calgary : 5:49 PM ET
I can't help but feel a bit sorry and saddened by the man's troubled soul. I guess we'll never know why he was so obsessed with this one song, but it seems to me that the song was kind of a cry from within to save him from himself. My question is... Where were his parents during this whole time? How come they never visited him at the school? "Tell me will love be there" This kid was obviously mentally ill, but he was also someone who hungered for love.
Posted By Anonymous Madison, Cambridge, MA : 6:25 PM ET
Hi Wynn,
Can we say,"schizophrenia"? Most of us have lots of songs we love with meaningful lyrics. Then, there are all those songs we love and hate or don't care what the lyrics are because we love the rhythm of the music.
I remember when Ice Ice Baby was popular. I had no idea it was about drugs until I was sitting in my parked car listening to it and a police officer walked up and informed me I was listening to music about drugs. "Well, I still like the beat!" I said.
This is not about a song or lyrics, this is about a severely troubled individual who slipped through the cracks. I hope parents and teachers take this as a tragic lesson to intervene when they see someone in this kind of mental state. Red flags? He was screaming for help and it appears no one was listening. What a dismal ending. Hopefully those who see this kind of behavior will divert an incident like this in the future. God help us.
Posted By Anonymous Betty Ann, Nacogdoches, TX : 6:31 PM ET
Here we go again, a song is to blame, a video game is to blame, a violent movie is to blame. When are we going to blame the idiot who did this?
Posted By Anonymous Bill in Riverside, Ca : 6:34 PM ET
As I have watched and listened to this coverage, I have been sickened and frustrated by the incessant questioning of officials which seems to try and assign blame for this incident. It seems to me that all questions have been answered as fully as possible. I wonder if the media isn't as much to blame as the public for the constant lawsuits for culpability where none reasonably exists! The laws need revision if more student protection is needed, not punishment or finger pointing at individuals.
Posted By Anonymous Nancy Winfrey West Lafayette, IN : 6:52 PM ET
if this song meant anything to him, he absolutely missed the point.

My heart goes out to the families and loved ones of the victims...and the survivors who were there...

Heaven let your light shine down on THEM...
Posted By Anonymous Sheryl Jones, Phoenix, AZ : 6:56 PM ET
While "it" may not be about the song; the lyrics, and his obsession over this song do give us clues to this person. Perhaps if all of the responsible authorities had been listening better, they would have picked up on this one. It's another clue which hopefully will be used the next time one of our children are on the brink of hurting themselves or others.
Posted By Anonymous Bruce Levine, Redwood City, CA : 7:02 PM ET
A troubled soul in search of something never found---traveling life's pathway that suddenly took a turn toward death and destruction and he choose to follow. The most educated and the very simple will sit and ponder these actions for decades to come. There will be vigils and memorials all across America. Prayers will be lifted and tears will be shed yet no one will ever really know what happened in the life of Cho to cause such acts. The devastation and destruction hiding in the soul of this young man came out to play on Monday and the rest is history. What he held inside was an emotional volcano waiting to erupt. The splatters of hate and death will haunt the Virgina campus forever. We must all take the time to lift a simple prayer for the well-being of every student and staff on that campus. Unlike Cho we must all make wiser choices and allow our lights to "shine" through the darkness of this tragedy. May God comfort and sustain each and every person touched by the horriffic action.
Posted By Anonymous Zann Martin, Tennessee : 7:04 PM ET
I share in the grief of the students of VT. The words of the song does not justify the act, but we must remember not to forget those around us.In a University one can easily be lost in the crowd, i speak as a student of the University of the West Indies. Lets us prevent this from happening again, we can no longer live with our eyes wide shut!My heart goes out to the VT family.
Posted By Anonymous Love. Kgn, Jamaica : 7:46 PM ET
I don't think anyone would seriously try and attach a killer's choice of music to the lyrics in a song and no writer should feel like he should have to send out a disclaimer. In a like vein, no one should seriously believe that because he chose to use "Brand X" handguns that the company is somehow responsible. Watching his video is just mind boggling and ascribing his actions to anything other than his own actions would simply be wrong
As I'm watching the pictures he sent CNN and the words he said and the fact he listened to the same song over and over(by the way,don't dissect everything,it had meaning to him,period),the similarities between him and the killer(Kimveer Gill) that went on a shooting spree this last fall in Montreal at Dawson College are heery.It's like a "déjà vu".
It's too late to see all the signs now,it won't bring back the victims. Let that be a lesson for all of us to pay attention to our surroundings.
My toughts & prayers to all and may the LIGHT envelop all the victims so they can find peace.

Joanne R.
Laval QUebec
Posted By Anonymous Joanne R.Laval Quebec : 8:35 PM ET
Dear Anderson 360 and readers,
The song didn't cause him to do what he did, the song gives direct corelations to what he was missing and looking for in his life.

He felt his life was devoid of hope. He felt his life was devoid of love. He wondered if those things would ever find him and he wondered if he would ever find those things.

The song has relevance for two reasons, one I have already stated, the other is because it was repeated over and over and over again.

As usual, "you" [his closest schoolmates and peers] weren't listening, even if you heard it over and over; "you" weren't listening. Instead "you" talked about him behind his back when he didn't speak directly to "you", and found reasons and invented reasons to ostracize him.

Think about it.
Posted By Anonymous James Foley Kamiah, Idaho : 8:39 PM ET
It would be intersting to see what kind of a childhood this guy had. If he was abused like some have suggested and was a loner who didn't talk to anyone or have any friends, the lyrics to this song make a lot of sense. It's sad that he didn't get the help that he needed. There are always signs but no one ever puts them together until it is too late.
Posted By Anonymous Barbara, Mesa,AZ : 8:56 PM ET
I agree. This isn't about the song or any song for that matter. This monster obviously had no real concept of reality. I don't think it's reasonable to trust his judgement on anything...even preference in music.
I feel awful for these innocent students and the professor who were killed. The only positive in this tradgedy is that one of this world's lunatics took himself out. I'm glad that no living human being will ever have to cross paths with this monster ever again.
Posted By Anonymous Geff, Malvern PA : 9:13 PM ET
The song didnt do it, the school didn't do it, the gun didn't do it and George Bush didn't do it. One sick, twisted Korean, with the help of a politically correct society did it.

AS soon as it was documented that he was stalking women at the university, he should have been deported back to Korea...then they could have been dealing with him now.
Posted By Anonymous Perry, Dallas, Texas : 10:00 PM ET
To James:

You are so right in your post. I read it and I thought about it.

I was raised in the same town one of the young people who died was from. I called my aunt and cousins over the last few days.

My 75 year old aunt, God Bless her was right, we don't take time any more to visit with people.

We have IPOD's in our ears, we have the BB for our email and we have laptops for our work.

When was the last time we just sat down and visited and had a cup of coffee, had a glass of wine and just laughed or an ice cream cone with our children or grandchildren?

Half the people in my neighborhood have grandchildren 1,200 miles away.

Think about it. When was the last time you just sat down and visited with a young person, your children, your neighbor, your parents or your spouse or domestic partner?
Posted By Anonymous Renee Bradenton, FL : 10:30 PM ET
Many of the lyrics of Colective Soul's music are very spiritual. Perhaps this young man was trying to drown out the voices with something hopeful. Unfortunately for everyone, he was not able to find what he was looking for. He is the only one to blame for this tragedy - not his family, not society, and certainly not this beautiful song.
Posted By Anonymous Cindy, Menomonee Falls, WI : 10:35 PM ET
I hope that Collective Soul's song "Shine" doesn't get the wrath or blame for being part of Cho's insanity and craving for attention. I hope this argument doesn't translate into the 80's debate of heavy metal causing folks to commit suicide. Cho planned and willingly chose to commit murder. Collective Soul had nothing to do with his choice.
Posted By Anonymous Kelly C, Westbrook, CT : 11:40 PM ET
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