My daughter just finished consolidating her entire life's school and life experience into a demographic summary, several essays from 100-650 words, and several lines and checkboxes on the Common App, the system which enables application to more colleges than you can keep up with. We hope that somehow, application readers are able to somehow perceive the real person behind the pdf the will view.
Songs are the same way - centuries of experience becomes consolidated into a few words. We have no more with which to understand the people behind the songs than the knowledge of their words and scant information on their origins. I try to enter and appreciate the stories of the songs and the people who created them, just as I hope the people who read my daughter's applications will try to get a real sense of who she is.
Earlier this month I did a program titled Advice from the Women of Jewish Spain, using songs and historic readings to help the audience get in touch with the people who created and carried the songs. I performed at Shaarey Tzedek Synagogue's Berman Center. Click here and scroll down to find video from the program.