In place of a hermeneutics we need an erotics of art.
– Susan Sontag
Make It Easy on Yourself and Nobody Gets What They Want Anymore.
The songs are large songs. They are romantic drunks. Love songs are often inhibited. Insincere. A form of foreplay or bravado or cliche. These songs though are really about love – because a heartbreak song is a love song – because they take your hand and suddenly look into you with wet eyes and urge you to listen with the intensity and emotion of a drunk.
How do these two songs make me feel?
Why are these two things related?
It’s hard to explain feelings well. It’s similar, though not quite as hard, as describing smell. The only hope you have is to make the reader feel the feeling. Which requires that we are alike, a little, you and I.
As for the relationship between things. On one level there is often an obvious connection – Song A sounds like Song B – but that is merely the skill you would use to make a “cool” playlist. On the other level the two songs seem to fuse and merge with the heart to make a fourth thing (Song A + Song B + my heart = the fourth thing).
Both songs are large – like a night sky – and they both have a moment that shifts perspective; where you go from noticing the size of the night sky to noticing your own smallness, like a trombone slide dropping suddenly from the high note to an end-of-the-trombonist’s-arm mournful bass depth.
After the grandeur and wonder of all the opening verses and choruses of Make It Easy on Yourself comes that moment. After the poignant self-sacrifice of the lyrics, there is a pause, just a holding on at the end of one chorus before the song lopes back into another chorus on the heartbeat pulse of the drums, where the middle drops away and the celestial layered voice of the woman rises and rises and achingly drops as the man holds, and sighs across the simplest of pop lyrics: “oh, baby”. In that moment I feel pulled from the greatness of the romantic skyline down into the cold awareness of a coming solitude.
Which is the connection.
Nobody Gets What They Want Anymore breaks my heart in its ending. Before the ending and after the quiet start the song wells with drums into a grand, sad gesture; a stately, shuffling-sad song sung by mates in a bar at 1am. A song you might be able to sing and feel good; the way the blues can make you feel good sometimes. But it goes wrong. Terribly wrong. The music dissolves and the voice (the voice) hovers achingly; knowing what being the one who is not loved anymore really means, and takes us to that place so low there are no tears to cry. Only love can make you know what loneliness truly means.
What am I going to do when you’re in trouble
And you don’t call out for me?
What am I going to do when I can see that you’ve been crying
And you don’t want no help from me?
Baby, I can’t separate us out anymore.
Make It Easy on Yourself, The Walker Brothers (2’15”-2’35”)
Nobody Gets What They Want Anymore, Marlon Williams (3’15”-end)