Sunday, September 23, 2007

I Could Have Done Without the Visual

Let me start by saying that both links are dead, so don't even try. It's been almost exactly a year now since the Yamagata got played on my rig, and twenty months since I heard the Journey song.

26 November 2005

I’m rolling from my Saturday gig to Madtown to have lunch with my big bro, listening to one of my Road Mix CDs, when Rachael Yamagata’s Worn Me Down starts blasting out of my speakers. (I’m going on the theory that hearing is overrated and that, one day, somebody will invent replacement eardrums; they’ll probably have them at Costco.) My buddy/former fellow Husky, ACWLP, turned me on to Yamagata a while ago, so I had purchased her CD, played the hell out of it, but then sort of lost track of Yamagata’s songs on my hard drive. Currently, I’ve got 6,800+ songs on my rig, with another fifty CDs waiting to be taken out of the boxes in which they came, so it’s easy for a song/songs/album/albums/artist/artists to get buried on my hard drive or on my Road Mix CDs or on my iPod; sometimes a song that I love the hell out of will come up on iTunes while I’m working, think to myself, God, I love this song; when’s the last time that I heard it? and when I check the Last Played date, I’ll see that it’s been over a year since the song got into the rotation.

The Yamagata is one of those songs about being in love with a person who’s in love with somebody else. She may be the rebound girl, or the one after that, but she’s definitely with a guy who is clearly preoccupied with his former beloved. The song’s sad because the female character is, well, she’s worn down. She loves this guy, and she’s tried everything to get this guy to stay with her in the here and now, but he can’t “stop thinking about her.” Included in the everything is the fact that she’s been “down on [her] knees,” doing “everything to please,” which is how you say oral sex in pop music, but it’s the like the sad sex you have when you and your beloved know that the relationship will never work or is breaking down or is broken down.

So I’m feeling Yamagata’s pain when her song is followed by Journey’s Separate Ways, a song that I've loved since high school. (Hey, bite me, Journey rules [And, no, I’m not being ironic; irony, as I've said again and again, is for cowards and losers and those who don’t trust in their own taste.].)

If Yamagata’s song is about loving a guy who loves another girl, then Separate Ways is about a guy who’s gotten dumped, but who still loves the girl who cut him loose. She’s moved on and is rolling with some other guy, but the dumpee hopes that the dumper will remember “how we touched and went our separate ways,” and will perhaps want the dumpee back. The dumpee “wish[es] [her] love,” which is the standard (and sometimes true) line that you say at the end, but what you really mean is “I love you so much and you’ve wrecked my life.” The dumpee knows that he’s in the past and now has to count on the new guy screwing up so that he’ll have a shot with his ex-special lady. A lot of us have been there, which, while it is mortally embarrassing (which is one of the reasons that we mostly keep this hope to [and sometimes from] ourselves), it also ties us to the long history of romantic suffering.

So, you hear the Yamagata and you think, “What a goddamn jerk. Here’s this girl who’s in love with you, and you're pining for some long-gone girl? Goddamn jerk,” but then you hear the Journey song and you think, “Okay, maybe you're not a jerk. You're just a guy who’s in love with a girl who dumped you. That happens all the time and it’s perfectly reasonable,” though reason hardly ever has anything to do with love. So then you end up feeling bad for everybody and you think, “Man, love is just messed up. Who the hell needs it?” but then you think some more and then you resignedly decide, “Everybody. Everybody needs it,” and you sort of laugh at how silly and bittersweet the whole thing is.

What, then, do these songs convey together? The same lesson that makes for so many great songs: that love is not accountable, that it’s not fair and it’s not kind, and that we need it like oxygen.

But then you have the involuntary and unfortunate image of Rachael Yamagata doing stuff of a sexual nature, if you know what I mean, to Steve Perry, who must be pretty beat to hell and pruney by now. I could have done without that particular image, though I’m pretty sure that you, yourself, are picturing exactly that same image right now. I’m terribly sorry.

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