Monday, February 13, 2017

To The One I Love ... But Not Really

Oh, can't you see
You belong to me
How my poor heart aches with every step you take
 The Police - Every Breath You Take

I am notorious for having to know the lyrics of a song. Why was it written? What is the symbolism? I love the thoughts and research that some artists put into a song. I admit I have ruined a song for some people and have to practice restraint most of the time. I apologize in advance if I am about to do it again. To me, a misplaced song in a show or movie is as bad as a character that is there for no reason. Do your research people -- or come and see me first. Here are some of the most notoriously mis-understood love songs.

Dave Matthews - Crash Into Me
Sexy love song this is not. Creepy stalker voyeur reminiscent of The Police classic Every Breath You Take it is. It seems like a love song. It delivers like a love song. I guess it is a love song--sort of??

Oh I watch you there
through the window
And I stare at you
You wear nothing but you
wear it so well
Creep. Ok, sadly, some might be okay with Dave Matthews staring at them through the window without knowing ... I would prefer to know then, I guess, all of  sudden that creep factor kind of subsides - anyway...
Matthews has jokingly stated this song was written as an alternative to getting arrested. Hey, he said it, not me. We still love you anyway, Dave.

Bruce Springsteen - Born In The USA
Very good example of why you should understand what the song is about before you use it for, I don't know,  for something like your presidential campaign. 
Ronald Reagan said of Born in the USA and Bruce Springsteen

America's future rests in a thousand dreams inside your hearts; it rests in the message of hope in songs so many young Americans admire: New Jersey's own Bruce Springsteen. And helping you make those dreams come true is what this job of mine is all about.

Sure Ronnie, messages of hope, uh huh, being a  down on your luck Vietnam Veteran blue collar worker, losing your faith and spirit in the country you were once so proud of, this song is...completely and utterly not a song of hope but of despair. This is a classic case of judging a book by its cover.

R.E.M. - The One I Love
Again, deceitful. Stipe grabs you with the seeming dedication at the beginning ... This one goes out to the one I love. But wait - listen. After he has you in the nice hug, his arms tighten with the next line ... this one goes out to the one I've left behind.  WTF? Left behind? And when you think the grip is so tight, he takes you and throws you to the ground A simple prop to occupy my time. A song about never ending love? Hardly. A song written from the point of view of someone who has had their heart ripped out and stomped on several times, possibly.

U2 - Love is Blindness
When it comes to songs, Bono can be a sneaky bugger.  99% of the songs he writes with  Edge are blanketed in religious symbolism and politics. Songs like Pride, Please, and Bullet the Blue Sky are seeped in politics and religion. Love is Blindness is no exception to this rule. You are correct in assuming that Bono is singing about love. He is singing about love of country and love of identity. He just happens to be singing it from the point of view of a car bomber:

In a parked car in a crowded street 
You see your love made complete
Love is clockworks
And cold steel
Fingers too numb to feel
Squeeze the handle
Blow out the candle
A little death without mourning
No call and no warning
Baby a dangerous idea, that almost makes sense

If there was deleted scene in Blown Away that could be created today - Tommy Lee Jones would be dancing around and singing this song. 

Faith No More - Underwater Love
Mike Patton totally and completely freaked me out with this song. Yeah, I sing along to it and people look at you in a very odd way when you do. It's upbeat, especially when he sings it live. Like he's riding on a carousel, not drowning his love.

Bubbling up to the surface
Are you getting a breath of fresh air?
Forever longing to make you mine
But I can't escape your stare...
Liquid seeps into your lungs
But your eyes look so serene

A far cry from Epic (okay there was the fish) or Falling to Pieces, Mike takes drowning his love to another love - forever longing to make you mine.

Radiohead - Creep
This is just a sad love song. You can hear the quiet sadness in the beginning that builds and builds from the anger and frustrtaion of loving someone and feeling that they are too good for you.

I'm a creep.
I'm a weirdo.
What the hell am I doing here?

You listen to it again and realize what's going on:
I want you to notice
When I'm not around
I wish I was special
You're so fucking special

Ok, first I was really being hard on myself. Then it's like - you know what. Screw you. You're so special but I'm still feeling hard on myself. I still love you but I'm feeling like a freak.

I don't belong here

Harsh. Who hasn't been there. Yup, we all have. Maybe not to the Thom Yorke sense, but we've all been there. (This will blow your mind: The Pretenders covering Creep: 

Motley Crue - You're All I Need 
Bassist Nikki Sixx was so ahead of the Law and Order SVU curve when he wrote this song. Supposedly "ripped from the headlines", the song seems so romantic if you're only catching the chorus You're all I need, make you only mine. Most people missed the first verse at this point:

The blade of my knife
Faced away from your heart
Those last few nights
It turned and sliced you apart
This love that I tell
Now feels lonely as hell
From this padded prison cell

Oh, prison cell, you say. This guy, similar to Mike Patton, was not going to lose his girl - ever.  This video was banned from MTV.

 And finally, one of the most misunderstood songs (my opinion) is Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah. Used often to mourn, look more closely, it is a very sensual love song. (See my own post, A Misguided Hallelujah). Many religious references are in the song, but they are of references to the Bibles infamous lovers. Kind David, Samson, Delilah, and Bathsheba. 

To quote Jeff Buckley himself: Whoever listens carefully to 'Hallelujah' will discover that it is a song about sex, about love, about life on earth...It's an ode to life and love. Thoughts? He truly sang the words with longing, passion, want of physical closeness.

There was a time when you let me know
What's really going on below
But now you never show it to me, do you?
And remember when I moved in you
The holy dove was moving too
And every breath we drew was Hallelujah

Yes, I have stayed away from songs like She Bop, Turning Japanese and Dancing With Myself - even though self love does count as love.And if I ruined ANY of those three songs for you, I make no apologies.

To me, songs are like poetry. The artist (usually) is trying to get a message or story or feeling across to the listener. Next time, listen, try and figure out what it is they are trying to say or what story they are trying to tell...especially before you dedicate it to someone you love.

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