Thursday, March 18, 2010

Day 18: Strangeways, Here We Come

When I first started blogging, I wrote about songs all the time, plunged in nostalgia on the brink of my future as a mother. If you don't believe me, see here, here and here.

Just now I was driving and heard two songs that I've always really liked, and realized that I've never really known the lyrics, even though I sing along, making stuff up. So when I got home, I Googled them. The first one is "It's My Life" by Talk Talk. Yes, yes, I know that No Doubt covered it recently. But the Talk Talk version came out when I was in college, and I used to play it on my radio show. I played it almost every week, because I was sort of being stalked by this UMass frat boy named Sam (he attached a mind-boggling level of significance to this little coincidence) who called me up all the time to request it.

Even then, I would sort of close my eyes and smile as I recognized the opening notes, because the first line was my favorite:

Funny how I find myself in love with you

I can feel the warm wind on my face as I leaned out the window of my friend Carolyn's car, driving over the Calvin Coolidge bridge from Northampton to Hadley, sunlight twinkling off the Connecticut River beneath us. That line really captures something for me about my youth, the idea that I was going to be constantly surprised by delight.

But if I'm honest, I never knew what the hell else they were saying.

Funny how I find myself in love with you
If I could buy my reasoning I'd pay to lose
One half won't do
I've asked myself
How much do you commit yourself?

It's my life
Don't you forget
It's my life
It never ends

Funny how I blind myself
I never knew if I was sometimes played upon
Afraid to lose,
I'd tell myself what good you do
Convince myself

It's my life
Don't you forget
It's my life
It never ends

I've asked myself
How much do you commit yourself?

It's my life
Don't you forget
Caught in the crowd
It never ends

Okay, first the disclaimer: I analyze texts. It's the one thing I've been trained to do (well, that and dancing around like a chicken.) So I can't stop myself from asking....WHA? Let's start with the chorus: "It never ends?" What, life? The way the speaker's object keeps bugging him? Readers, if you know, please enlighten me.

And then there's the riddle wrapped in the paradox enclosed in the enigma of the first stanza, directly following that line I've always loved: "If I could buy my reasoning I'd pay to lose/One half won't do/I've asked myself/How much do you commit yourself?"

Okay, let me see if I can figure this out: He'd pay to lose his realization that he knows more than half of what he shouldn't know? Oh, that hurts my head. And is he speculating rhetorically about whether to commit or not? Or questioning the other person's commitment?

I have to say, I'm a bit bummed. I thought it was all going to be lots more profound, after that first line. I guess I'll just stick with mumbling made-up words.

But then this song came on, "You Wreck Me" by Tom Petty. I am a Tom Petty fan from way back. I've always loved his lyrics. And "You Wreck Me" is about as awesome a song title as there ever was.

Tonight we ride, right or wrong
Tonight we sail, on a radio song
Rescue me, should I go down
If I stay too long in trouble town

Oh, yeah, you wreck me, baby
You break me in two
But you move me, honey
Yes you do

Now and again I get the feeling
Well if I don't win, I'm a gonna break even
Rescue me, should I go wrong
If I dig too deep, if I stay too long

Oh, yeah, you wreck me, baby
You break me in two
But you move me, honey
Yes you do

I'll be the boy in the corduroy pants
You be the girl at the high school dance
Run with me wherever I go
And just play dumb, whatever you know

Oh, yeah, you wreck me, baby
You break me in two
But you move me, honey
Yes you do

Okay, hello! When I looked this one up, it was a completely different experience. I never knew any of the words except the chorus (which is delicious in its paradoxical proclamation--the object makes him crazy, but he LIKES it) and I always appreciate a singable chorus. But it's the verses that really wreck/move me.

There are several moments I love, that remind me fondly of past exploits, like "Tonight we sail, on a radio song" (yes!) and "Rescue me, should I go wrong" (so many possible meanings, all awesome.) But the stanza that really stunned me, that I've definitely never heard before:

I'll be the boy in the corduroy pants
You be the girl at the high school dance
Run with me wherever I go
And just play dumb, whatever you know

I love, love, love how he winks at his object, saying "Baby, we're both smart, but let's behave like we have no clue." Because there's a reckless freedom to playing dumb. To be smart is to be responsible. Tonight is going to be a break from all that.

So, it's a double song epiphany day. Not that it matters in the greater scheme of things. Gotta go--I've stayed too long in trouble town.

4 comments:

The Wades said...

I'm a big song mumbler. Always a shock hearing the real lyrics.

You are so profound, my Sam. :)

bridgetcarle said...

I'll try...

Funny how I find myself in love with you
If I could buy my reasoning I'd pay to lose
One half won't do
I've asked myself
How much do you commit yourself?


Um, our hero wishes he believed the cockamamie excuses he's come up with to be in love with this person or excuse them for only being half committed? Or he's wondering how much he should commit to someone who doesn't come across well in the following verses?

It's my life
Don't you forget
It's my life
It never ends


I don't think he means life never ends. I think he means that this insecurity and betrayal in love never ends.

Funny how I blind myself
I never knew if I was sometimes played upon
Afraid to lose,
I'd tell myself what good you do
Convince myself


Our hero is really into deluding himself and ignoring his lover's evil and possible infidelity, focusing only on the good they do.

There are so many songs I'm only understanding now as an adult. Lately, I've been reading Fleetwood Mac lyrics, realizing that I've just been gumming nonsense all these years. :)

erin said...

I love lyrics, all lyrics. So I was surprised when I read this and realized I didn't know the words to that Petty song either.

I love it even more now.

Everyone teases me about the ben folds thing...but my favorite things about him are his voice and his lyrics (thought I should have said the piano playing? Also impressive).

Sam said...

@C: You are so awesome! I love your analysis! Thank you! :)

@Erin: I won't tease you about your Ben Folds thing. I understand completely. :)