I THINK the backlash to the incident between Jim Paredes and some young supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte at Edsa last Saturday is unfair to the songwriter. Paredes has every right to say what he wants to say in public, including telling Duterte supporters the potent “doo-bi-doo” right to their face.

What non-songwriters don’t know is that seemingly nonsensical lyrics are packed with messages that have the potential to kill the listener. When words and phrases don’t make sense anymore, the songwriter squeezes all his pains, frustrations, disappointments and sadness into nonsense syllables, loading the syllables with so much emotion that the listener doesn’t know what hit him until it’s too late.

Paredes: Do you know how many innocent civilians are killed in the government’s fight against drugs?

Duterte youth: ???

Paredes: Doo-bi-doo!

Duterte youth: (Drops dead)

Paredes is misunderstood. It’s because the public forgets that Paredes is an artist, whose art is an extension of himself. We fail to see that before the Edsa incident, Paredes had been giving us clues about his philosophies in life. It’s our fault that we’re not prepared.

Take “Batang-Bata Ka Pa” for example: “Batang-bata ka lang at akala mo na na alam mo na ang lahat na kailangan mong malaman/ Buhay ay di ganyan/ Tanggapin mo na lang ang katotohanan na ikaw ay isang musmos lang na wala pang alam/ Makinig ka na lang.”

This is what Paredes was telling the young Duterte supporters at Edsa last Saturday. Those kids didn’t get it because they are Bruno Mars fans.

Take another Apo song, composed by Louie Ocampo. “Hindi ko alam kung bakit ka ganyan/ Mahirap kausapin at di pa namamansin/ Di mo ba alam ako’y nasasaktan...” And all the millennials say is “Ewan”? Paredes is hurt. He told us that a long time ago. How come we only react now?

Take “Blue Jeans,” a song Paredes co-wrote with fellow Apo Danny Javier: “Kay tagal-tagal ko nang nag-aaral/ Tignan mo, kupas na’ng aking maong/ Kung akala mo ako ay natuto na/ Hindi pa rin.”

In this song, Paredes took the trouble of putting himself in the shoes of college students, hoping they would understand him this time. But they still don’t. How many kupas na maong does it take for the youth to listen?

Until finally Paredes and Apo decided to sing: “Ihanda ang tropa at tambol na lata/ Kaskasin mo nang mabuti ang dalang gitara/ Kapag buo na’t handa na ang lahat/ Huminga ka nang malalim at narito na/ Heto na, heto na, heto na, hah hah...”

Gasping for breath, Paredes sets the momentum for us and prepares us for the climax because we’re too dumb to keep timing ourselves. “Heto na… heto na… heto na…” and then what? Doo-bi-doo! We’re supposed to drop dead at the weight of those syllables. But we didn’t because we don’t get it. Now we’re blaming Paredes.