Exploring the Back Catalogue: 4:13 Dream & Emotional Processing

April 24, 2020

4:13 DREAM (continued)

Having just posted a lot of beautiful music off a playlist on the Currently Listening thread, it’s a bit of a juxtaposition to be dealing with a song that is decidedly not beautiful, and probably not intended to be.  It doesn’t mean I hate it – although I really, really, really dislike the guitar intro, it is like fingers down the blackboard in musical form, just the vilest sound (and coincidentally, it really goes with the album cover).  Listen for yourself:

Some of you are undoubtedly going to love it, because life is a big tapestry, no two people are the same, etc – but I’d immediately like that song a whole lot better sans that guitar intro.  I can never really understand why anybody likes heavy metal and its car crash sounds, either – although it probably has some correlation with testosterone.  Clearly not a hugely strong correlation, because not every man is a fan, but it’s decidedly more popular with males than females.

So here’s The Cure, a band who has a large number of beautiful tracks in their catalogue, with a song that makes my ears bleed.  It is, however, an interesting song – and I’m using that word not in the British sense, but in the German sense, where you really mean that something is actually interesting when you say it, and not the opposite – and where “interesting” is a compliment, not a backhanded insult.

Let’s look at the lyrics:

SWITCH

Sometime it seems
I stopped being myself
And without a word
Turned into somebody else
Full of wishes wants dreams
And desires
For a life
Of conceit and deceit
And repeat and rewrite
Not sure who I was
Before this me and I changed
But I know this me now
Is not really the same

Friends are as strangers
And strangers as friends
And I feel like I’m wired in a why
Yeah my friends are as strangers
And strangers as friends
And I feel like I’m lost in a lie

And every day my world gets slower
And colder and smaller
And older and lower
And every day
My treat gets closer to trick
Yeah every day my world gets slower
And colder and smaller
And older and lower

And I’m tired of being alone with myself
And I’m tired of being with anyone else
Yeah I’m tired
Like I’m sick

None of my favourite things
Are quite right
To the mirror man
Screaming at me
In the spite of another
False start
Dirty worn out and used
Up and down
To the ground
Disavowed
So confused
All made up in the belief
That me is the same
As the eyes in the glass
But I see my eyes change

Friends are as strangers
And strangers as friends
And I feel like I’m wired in a why
Yeah my friends are as strangers
And strangers as friends
And I feel like I’m lost in a lie

And every night my world gets quicker
And lighter and shorter
And tighter and slicker
And every night
My truth gets closer to dare
Yeah every night my world gets quicker
And lighter and shorter
And tighter and slicker

And I’m tired of being alone with myself
And I’m tired of being with anyone else
Yeah I’m tired
Like I’m sick

Like I’m scared

I read this as basically a big spew, at the world and the self simultaneously.  Things are going downhill – and it’s not so much, “Stop the world, I want to get off!” as, “I seem to be decaying somehow – and it’s like a disease – and I’m afraid.”  No wonder the music is un-beautiful.  Here’s a protagonist who is dealing with his shadow side (the title gives us a clue) and the unhappy side of life.   The evil twin is taking over, existential woes are mounting up, etc.   Sometimes this happens on a permanent basis…

Roald Dahl happens to have written about people with an (uncomplicated) permanent evil setting in this classic tale:

If you’ve not read that yet, I consider it essential for understanding the human species better. Some of the tongue-in-cheek philosophy in the book is actually onto something:

The lyrics to Switch aren’t slapdash, they’ve been carefully constructed, and are worth just reading, since in the actual song they are rapidly paced and not necessarily clearly articulated.  Most traditional storytelling songs – such as many numbers by Suzanne Vega, Paul Kelly, Tom Petty etc – are quite slow-paced, don’t rush the lines, and have pauses in the delivery so that the listener can take it all in and have a think about it at the same time.

Sort of like when you’re sitting down to eat, you can have a much nicer experience when you take the time to look at your food, and to chew it slowly, and to really notice it, rather than just gobbling it rapidly.  Listening to the lyrics in Switch feels a bit like someone is holding you down and force-feeding you through a funnel.  You’re not going to engage with the lyrics optimally that way; but clearly the artistic decision in this case was to prioritise having the music convey a mood over and above acting as a vehicle for the clear presentation of the words.  As is usual in thoughtfully constructed music, both languages in the song – musical language and verbal language – are saying the same thing, reinforcing each other.  The music and lyrics both convey a claustrophobia which goes with the topic.

When a “mood” song isn’t mellow or reflective – when it’s wound up and tight and spiralling and suffocating – it can take quite a few listens to “get” the lyrics (or you can sit down with the lyric sheet).  While you can understand a song like Paul Kelly’s How To Make Gravy instantly and fully on the first listen (both languages), songs like Switch make you work harder, and usually aren’t as pleasant.  But, they’re not meant to be pleasant, and for conveying a mood I’ll give Switch close to full marks.

I was just thinking that Pink Floyd do quite a bit of negative-mood stuff, and the way they often seem to get around the problem of audience think-time without killing the mood is to do some furious lyrics, followed by a verbal break in which they play furious music, and then they get to the next line, etc.  That way, there’s thought-spaces without interrupting the mood.  But, there’s more than one way to skin a cat.  The Cure usually leave space in their music; it’s quite unusual for them not to, and why shouldn’t they experiment in all sorts of directions.

Since a number of the songs on the second half of 4:13 Dream are comparatively grating, fast-paced and claustrophobic, that contributed to the sense I had a while back that this wasn’t an album I was going to give a lot of re-visits without skipping a few tracks.  Here’s an interesting thing though:  Three songs like that in close proximity to each other, or even just two back-to-back, can lead to me pulling the plug and saying, “Enough already!” – yet sandwich a number like that into a random various-artist, multi-genre playlist, and it works better, for me.

Similarly, I generally really like Big Country’s music, and much of Pink Floyd’s – but I will rarely sit and listen to an entire album of music by them – especially with the latter (and much to Brett’s chagrin).  In both cases, the high intensity and noise levels of a lot of their tracks can regularly give me a headache after more than half an hour unless I take a break – and if I don’t stop, I can actually get prolonged migraines, nausea and other highly unpleasant stuff like that – I don’t like getting hangovers, from music or anything else.  In Pink Floyd’s case, more than 30 minutes often becomes depressing as well, for me.  And there’s nothing like getting physically ill from something to teach you not to do it again. You learn how far you can go, and where you should stop.

Mixed-artist, mixed-genre playlists don’t just have a greater variety of music and voices to give you a break from too much of any one thing that might become annoying – but the diverse tracks on it seem to contextualise and offset one another, as well.  So, for example, listening to Plainsong in a mixed playlist is a different experience to listening to it on a complete run-through of Disintegration.  In the case of that song, I enjoy both of those approaches.  On Disintegration, Plainsong is an aspect of the whole, like a moon or a thundercloud or a rainbow in a landscape painting – various aspects are interrelated and part of a scenario.  In a mixed-artist, mixed-genre playlist, this is a song that tends to pop out and impress on me all over again why I like it so much, and how this band does things differently to other bands, and how this genre has a different language to other genres, and how there’s different “accents” in the language of a particular genre, etc.

But because our playlists are made up of album tracks (all tracks off each album), we’ll also get tracks we may not particularly enjoy on their home album, that we suddenly like better as an isolated experience sandwiched in with other music.  And in that context, I find myself engaging with a song like Switch or Freakshow more than I do on a 4:13 Dream listen-through.  Of course, there’s still some songs that I will eventually choose to skip, either way (although that’s not a common occurrence).

The Perfect Boy next time.  With a counterexample.

April 27, 2020

THE PERFECT BOY

“You and me are the world”
She said
“Nothing else is real
The two of us is all there is
The rest is just a dream…
Always meant to be
I can feel it
Like a destiny thing
Written in the stars
Inescapable fate
Yeah it’s out of my hands
Falling into your arms”

“And I don’t want to get innocent
But I would love you to take my time
We’re on the edge of a beautiful thing”
She said
“Come on…
Let’s stay here for a while”

Oh girl!
He is the one for sure
Oh girl!
He is the perfect boy

“Yeah me and you are a world”
He said
“But not the only one I need
The two of us is never all there is
That doesn’t happen for real
If it was meant to be us
It was meant to be now
Don’t see the sense in wasting time
If you’re so sure about this
Laurel kismet hardy thing
You know tonight you’re mine”

“And I don’t want to get obvious
But I have to be gone by three
Were on the edge of a beautiful thing”
He said
“So come on… jump with me”

Oh girl!
He’s not the one for sure
Oh girl!
He’s not so wonderful
Oh girl!
He’s not the one for sure
Oh girl!
He’s not the perfect boy at all

“You and me are the world”
She says
“Nothing else is real
The two of us is all there is
The rest is just a dream… “

And her heart may be broken
A hundred times
But the hurt will never destroy
Her hope…

The happy ever after girl
One day finds the perfect boy

There’s two ways I can fathom reading this:  As a complete (and intentional) farce, or in support of the girl.  To me it’s all farcical – Miss Blurry Vision meets Mr Wham-Bam-Thank-You-Ma’am.  Does she learn from that experience?  You tell me.  Does her vision sharpen at all?  Hmmmm.

A closer look at her world view on romance:

“You and me are the world”
She said
“Nothing else is real
The two of us is all there is
The rest is just a dream…

Most teenagers I worked with actually had more realistic ideas about love and romance, and considering their lack of life experience that’s saying something.  This one’s a bit slow on the uptake.  Nothing about this is cute, either, to me – it’s looking at the world and other people with your eyes closed, and it’s a recipe for disaster, even with the “right” boy who isn’t just trying to get in her pants.  While our love relationships can indeed be our private Edens, we do have to engage with the world as well instead of floating off in la-la-land from henceforth.  And a private Eden is not the same thing as a private castle-in-the-air.

If you can’t look at your partner, or at life, with your eyes open, you’re going to live in fantasyland and not in reality, and you won’t be able to truly relate to your partner, or anyone else.  You’ll be in love with a projection, not with a real human being, so you’ll actually never love the real human being at all.  To me personally, this means you may as well not have been born, because you’re not actually really alive, you may as well be comatose with your head plugged into a matrix.

I guess to me, a good relationship isn’t an escape from reality, it’s a good reality.

And you have to make it happen, and work on it, and yourself, to have that.  It’s not something you “fall into”…

Always meant to be
I can feel it
Like a destiny thing
Written in the stars
Inescapable fate
Yeah it’s out of my hands
Falling into your arms”

A destiny thing, bwahahaha, the thing part just caps it.  Here’s a bunch of clich├ęs about life and romance that appeal to certain types of people – probably they also keep crystals around their house to infuse them with cosmic energy blah blah blah.  Always meant to be, I can feel it – that’s the kind of “reasoning” you get around the happy-clappy set.  That warm fuzzy feeling inside me is the Holy Spirit! – Or the New-Agey universe telling me a truth, preferably exactly what I want to hear…

I remember reading a sermon by Martin Luther King called A Tough Mind And A Tender Heart (still in copyright but you can read a draft here) in which he talked about the problems with soft-mindedness, as opposed to soft-heartedness – with the gullibility and mental anaemia that’s also a pandemic.  It’s worth reading; MLK wrote well and aimed to provoke critical thinking.  I also love this quote from Charles Dickens in Great Expectations:

All other swindlers upon earth are nothing to the self-swindlers, and with such pretences did I cheat myself. Surely a curious thing. That I should innocently take a bad half-crown of somebody else’s manufacture is reasonable enough; but that I should knowingly reckon the spurious coin of my own make as good money! An obliging stranger, under pretence of compactly folding up my bank-notes for security’s sake, abstracts the notes and gives me nutshells; but what is his sleight of hand to mine, when I fold up my own nutshells and pass them on myself as notes!

And so, the girl in this song is reckoning the spurious coin of her own make – or perhaps the common Monopoly money – as good money…

Let’s have a look at the boy – a rather egregious specimen:

“Yeah me and you are a world”
He said
“But not the only one I need
The two of us is never all there is
That doesn’t happen for real
If it was meant to be us
It was meant to be now
Don’t see the sense in wasting time
If you’re so sure about this
Laurel kismet hardy thing
You know tonight you’re mine”

“And I don’t want to get obvious
But I have to be gone by three
Were on the edge of a beautiful thing”
He said
“So come on… jump with me”

The only thing more lamentable than his attitude is that people fall for it.  More stringent BS detection is required… I’ve no issue with two wham-bam types meeting up and doing their thing, but I do have an issue with a wham-bam type exploiting a non wham-bam type; that just doesn’t sit right with me.  In this case, he’s actually being honest about his viewpoint instead of telling her what she wants to hear, which is somewhat commendable – at least, if she wasn’t going around with her eyes closed, she could actually take that on board and go, “Thanks but no thanks!”  But does she?

So many Cure songs about romance seem to be studies in dysfunction… social realism, maybe.

Oh girl!
He’s not the one for sure
Oh girl!
He’s not so wonderful
Oh girl!
He’s not the one for sure
Oh girl!
He’s not the perfect boy at all

…and of course there is no perfect boy, or perfect girl, or perfect hermaphrodite, or perfect none-of-the-above – we’re all flawed, each and every one of us; at best we’re works in progress.

This little chorus, it’s sort of like a Greek chorus – and it sways in the wind; only very recently was it heard to say:

Oh girl!
He is the one for sure
Oh girl!
He is the perfect boy

And what’s the girl saying now?

“You and me are the world”
She says
“Nothing else is real
The two of us is all there is
The rest is just a dream… “

We’re now in the present tense – she says, not she said. It’s not clear if she’s still saying this to Mr Wham-Bam, or if she’s continuing her modus operandi with the next bearer of Y-chromosomes – but she’s not learnt a thing – at least not yet; sometimes it appears to be necessary to bang your head against the same wall repeatedly before you are finally convinced that your sample size is large enough to say without a doubt that this is a really bad idea and you do actually need to stop…

Conclusion:

And her heart may be broken
A hundred times
But the hurt will never destroy
Her hope…

The happy ever after girl
One day finds the perfect boy

Are the last two lines the girl’s hope, or the writer’s conclusion, sort of like Aesop’s moral of the story?  If it’s the latter, obviously I think differently.  Here’s a really excellent thing I saw printed on a poster in a relationships counselling office I attended as a young thing during the car crash end of my first long-term relationship:

If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.

I’m grateful for everyone along the road who encouraged me to think, who mirrored me back accurately, who showed me different perspectives, who let me walk a mile in their shoes – friends, counsellors, teachers, poets, writers, musicians, random people on buses, psychologists, visual artists, my husband – because without them, I’d still be stuck in the same old mire.  We need other people in order to evolve.  I’ve not “arrived” – I think that’s like the asymptotic line, always approaching and getting closer but never actually arriving – we can only try to keep going in the right direction, and once we get to a certain point, we might actually start to enjoy our journeys.  I had a tough time as a young person, but now I love my life, and even the day I die, I won’t have “arrived” yet.  Hopefully I will still have been trying.

I want to finish with an alternative take to the situation portrayed in this song, from another song:

She’s got a lot of pride
You can see it when she walks into the room
But she’s young
And she’s unaware
Of what a brutal world can do to you
So she loves a man
He lies like a dog
Tears her little world all apart
So the walls go up
For the rest of her days
And there ain’t no man can touch this girl’s heart

(from John Mellencamp’s Hard Times For An Honest Man)

So that’s a counterexample, of what bad experiences can do to people. Hopefully, we act like neither of the ladies in these two songs – we neither go on blithely getting our hearts broken while not changing our approaches, nor do we give up after adverse experiences.

And hopefully, too, we’re not like that Mr Wham-Bam, never understanding our responsibilities to one another, and never entering into actual intimacy with another person.

If it’s made us think, it’s worth the space.

This. Here and Now.  With You next time.

May 2, 2020

SCENIC DETOUR ON EMOTIONAL PROCESSING

I’m throwing in a detour because an article just came up that is actually going to fit into the discussion of the next song as well.  Here’s the article:

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2020/apr/29/coronavirus-whats-your-emotional-style-how-your-responses-can-help-children-navigate-covid19

Reading something like that, we ask ourselves:  What were the emotional styles of our parents?  What are our emotional styles? …since once you examine and identify your family of origin childhood “programming”, you can start to change the things you don’t like – something I’m eternally grateful for:  We don’t have to repeat the patterns if they’re unhelpful.  (OMG, imagine if we were automatons and we did… ? ?)

My parents’ emotional styles were largely emotionally dismissive, except if the emotions mirrored their own.  If I had a feeling they didn’t have, and told them about it, typically I’d be told something along the lines of, “Stop feeling that way!  That’s so stupid!”  If I cried as a young child and my parents disapproved, like if I was afraid of a medical procedure, they’d threaten me with physical pain, “Stop or I’ll give you something to really cry about!” and I indeed learnt to clamp down and hide my emotions from them, to the point I was jealously guarding my inner world by the time I was a mid-teen and always carrying my journal, in which I expressed all of my thoughts and feelings freely, physically with me, or else hiding it somewhere obscure in my room, because I really didn’t want to let them into my inner sanctum.  It was enough that the music I listened to and identified with was routinely ridiculed (so I moved on to headphones for the really personal stuff); I didn’t want people like that to read my journal – but any of my friends who expressed an interest, I had no problems with their leafing through it.

Personally I evolved into an emotional coaching style as I became an adult, learning the style from the people who emotionally coached me, like some excellent teachers along the way, friends’ parents, etc (and I’m still learning, and this will always be necessary).  Because it was so sorely missing in my family life, I really appreciated it – like sunshine after an icy cold bleak winter – and saw it as a good and highly important thing I wanted to learn how to do and in turn pass on.  Once I moved from science research and teaching at tertiary level into high school, age groups 12-17, this became extra important and I got lots of opportunities for applying emotional empathy, encouraging open emotional expression, addressing emotions in our learning groups as part and parcel of the whole thing.  Obviously my sideline of teaching English and Literature was a fantastic vehicle for doing that as part of the curriculum, where expressing your thoughts, opinions, and feelings, and learning to do that in a connected and backed-up way is an important component.  But it’s really possible in any classroom if you value the human beings you’re working with.

I was lucky because the work environments I had for nearly two decades (before I became a tree-changing hippie type running an organic farm) encouraged human interaction on more than a surface level – pastoral care is an important component of working with teenagers, as much as academic education is, and the Catholic schools I worked for in particular generally had excellent dedicated pastoral care time in the timetable where students kept personal journals, did formal training on emotions and relationships, etc etc, which as a secular student myself I’d not been lucky enough to receive (back in the 1980s; secular schools here are doing better now) – but some fabulous teachers who thought it was important had it as part of their classroom approach, as I did myself later on.  A good classroom is a nurturing, encouraging place where people are truly seen and appreciated.

And yes, I’m a tree hugger, and here’s proof! ?

So many people I know who’ve pulled out of distressingly dysfunctional upbringings with reasonable success are writers and started with free-journalling in their teens.  It gives young people who can’t express their opinions and feelings in a supported way in their families of origin a private space in which to make up for this in many ways.  Of course, it’s not a relationship, which is why the concept of a village raising a child is so important – that way, there can be warm and positive relationships with adults even if that’s completely missing from the home.

Typically though, one of the hallmarks of emotionally (and otherwise) abusive families is that they tend to socially isolate their children/spouses/etc, and that was the case for me as well.  Very young children often make up imaginary relationships anyway, and I would guess this is more prevalent if there’s an emotional vacuum in the immediate environment.  And from where I stand now, the logical extension of that for many children is to cultivate a belief in God – as an alternative, and caring, parent figure.  I’ve seen it lots of times, including in my own life – I was essentially something of a Christian mystic between age 14 and my late 30s (and I discussed that previously here – under the YT clips, it’s a long post).  That I now see that as a construction of the psyche doesn’t diminish the positive effects that had on overcoming my difficult start, and that’s why I have no interest in dissuading people out of their personal beliefs in some kind of benevolent force in the universe.

I don’t like fundamentalism because it reconstructs the same dysfunctions as an abusive home, and inflicts it on a wider circle.  But, fundamentalism isn’t about a loving, supportive entity, it’s about a controlling, to-be-feared-and-obeyed-lest-you-go-to-hell entity – it’s really just perpetuating the cycle of abuse, control, brainwashing and discouragement of authenticity that you find in too many families.

If my psyche constructed that stuff, then it certainly mixed in all the best experiences I’d had along the road with people, as well as inspirational things I’d read about in books or heard as songs.  It didn’t come from nowhere.  And of course, the helpfulness of music in emotional processing was referred to in the article I linked to at the start of this post:

Use the power of music

Music is a great way to help connect children with their emotions. Music taps into our emotions in a way that words alone cannot. Neuroscientist Daniel Levitin’s research shows that when we listen to music almost every region and neural subsystem in our brain is activated. Music helps with emotion and with brain development too which is a bonus while we are all home-schooling.

A fun music lesson to have your kids do during family lockdown is create a positive playlist of songs that boost your mood. Include songs about resilience, triumph and overcoming negative events.

Those were exactly the sorts of songs that featured heavily in my own musical choices as a teenager in a dysfunctional home. Here’s a random example that comes to mind:

And having played that one, how can I not play this one:

This kind of stuff would galvanise me.  If I’d listened primarily to “wallowing” songs, or even just lots of unrelentingly dark songs, it would have depressed me and taken away precious energy I sorely needed to get through to adulthood and independence.  I had enough sad songs in the mix to acknowledge that aspect of reality, but not an overwhelming avalanche of them.  I wanted optimism and hope, and not by closing my eyes to dark reality, but in spite of dark reality.  I always believed that light would overcome darkness.  You only have to light a candle to see it.

I’d like to connect this little detour with the main topic of this thread.  The reason it sat together in my brain with the next song on the list is because I think that songs aren’t just listened to in order to help us make sense of the world and our lives and how we feel about it all, I think a lot of songs are written for those reasons, just as a lot of personal journals are.

In one of the interviews we read with Robert Smith, he was saying (I’m paraphrasing from memory but if I find it again I’ll put in a link) there was this misconception amongst some people that The Cure are a bunch of sad people who sit around in the dark cultivating gloom, but that he actually was just more likely to write a song when he was dealing with difficult stuff, than when he wasn’t.  He also said something about his dark songs being somehow more convincing, at least to him, than his happy songs, so he was less likely to write just about being happy.

Being happy is not a problem to solve.  It’s actually grappling with difficult things that makes us grow – not coasting along happily.  Life, of course, throws enough obstacles into the road to ensure we have plenty of material for continued growth.

Next time you listen to a song you find cathartic, think about how cathartic it might have been to write it.  Music is a connector, a two-way street.  It’s the same with good prose – it connects both the reader and the writer to the universe and life and other people.

So, the next song on the list of my trip through 4:13 Dream is This. Here and Now. With You.  Let’s have a look at the lyrics first:

THIS. HERE AND NOW. WITH YOU.

This
Here and now
With you…

“Oh please don’t ask me who I am
Or when and where my life began
Or why I ended up like this or how
Don’t ask me what I was before
If I was anything at all
It’s nothing you can know
About me now”

You hold my spinning head to stare
And strip me bare of memory
Your black eyes burning into me
So slow
The sounds and lights and others fade
And fall away in symmetry
Your black eyes burning hungrily
And unafraid I know…

Everything I ever dared forget is here
Too scared before I never let
Tonight be all I need
Everywhere I never tried to get is here
Too tired before to ever let
Tonight be all I feel
Every time I ever thought regret is here
Too caught before I never let
Tonight be all I dream
There isn’t any yesterday
Tomorrow starts a day away
This here and now with you is how
Always should always be

This
Here and now
With you

“I can’t believe its coming true
I’m so up close to kissing you
A breath away from never going home
I don’t remember getting here
It seems to be sometime next year
I hope you won’t be…
Leaving me alone?”

“No please don’t tell me who I am
Or when and where my life began
Or why I ended up like this or how
Don’t tell me what I was before
If I was anything at all
Its nothing you can know
About me now”

You pull my shaking body close
To make the most of tangency
I bite your mouth so fearfully
And slow
The taste of summers yet to shine
A perfect time to change the scene
I bite your mouth in urgency
And terrified I know…

Everything I ever dared forget is here
Too scared before I never let
Tonight be all I need
Everywhere I never tried to get is here
Too tired before to ever let
Tonight be all I feel
Every time I ever thought regret is here
Too caught before I never let
Tonight be all I dream
There isn’t any yesterday
Tomorrow starts a day away
This here and now with you is how
Always should always be

This
Here and now
With you

…so, how many of you have grappled with trying to live in the present?  It’s the object of mindfulness meditation, of many personal retreats, of many books.  Stop the monkey mind, smell the roses, see the bigger picture, etc etc.  Just be.  So easy for other animals, not so easy for hominids with cerebrums that can go around in circles, for minds that can live in their own constructions and preoccupations rather than in an approximation of the real world.

On a big-picture look, that’s what the song seems to be about, to me – getting your head out of the past, ditto the future, so that you can be fully alive in the present moment.  That’s a good skill to develop and that’s not to say that it’s never important to learn from your past or to be proactive about your future, it’s just saying, “Don’t forget the present moment, make sure you pay attention to what’s important here and now…”  – because that’s where you actually live your life.  We can go to ideas like, “The underexamined life is not worth living, the overexamined life is not being lived” and all that…

It’s a relationship-focused song, and of course, when most people sit down and look at what’s most important to them and what they would really like to put more time and energy into, relationships with people you love gets a big mention.  Really looking, really listening, really being there, more time and conversations with each other, more spontaneity, more planned adventures, etc.

Taking a closer look:

“Oh please don’t ask me who I am
Or when and where my life began
Or why I ended up like this or how
Don’t ask me what I was before
If I was anything at all
It’s nothing you can know
About me now”

It’s interesting this is in quotation marks and I’ve read this song a couple of different ways – with the cited stuff being what the protagonist actually says to his partner, and the rest of it narrative; and with the cited stuff being what the partner says to the protagonist, and the rest of it narrative.  Reading it as a conversation didn’t make sense to me.  (For an alternative reading, just ask Brett:  “The cited stuff is from an intruder looking on from behind a screen.” :rofl)

Regardless of who says it, the above verse brought to mind for me the concept of “the paralysis of analysis.” :lol:  I think there’s a Goldilocks zone where you’re doing just the right amount of thinking, and not under- or over-thinking. 

You hold my spinning head to stare
And strip me bare of memory
Your black eyes burning into me
So slow
The sounds and lights and others fade
And fall away in symmetry
Your black eyes burning hungrily
And unafraid I know…

Isn’t that lovely?  At least the way I’m reading it, which is as an encounter between two people who’ve known and treasured each other for a long time, and who’ve seen the light and the darkness in each other, and still love each other, and the more, with the rose-tinted spectacles off.  Of course, that’s how I like to read stuff that can be interpreted that way.  ;)

Everything I ever dared forget is here
Too scared before I never let
Tonight be all I need
Everywhere I never tried to get is here
Too tired before to ever let
Tonight be all I feel
Every time I ever thought regret is here
Too caught before I never let
Tonight be all I dream
There isn’t any yesterday
Tomorrow starts a day away
This here and now with you is how
Always should always be

This
Here and now
With you

Ah, the knack of being fully present.  :cool  I love the line, “Everything I ever dared forget is here” – because our brains can be so confounding, can get so side-tracked and distracted and trying to deal with so many different things, that we can actually temporarily forget really important stuff, like, “Oh wow, it’s so amazing being intimate with you – well, I knew it was amazing, but I temporarily forgot the scale of it and the many little nuances and it’s so wonderful to be here…”

And another way to read it (of lots of different ways) is, “I’ve seen your dark side and dared to put that to one side and believe in your light and go on, and I dared to love you even though we’re neither of us perfect and we can and do hurt each other, on the road to becoming better at this stuff.”  Plus of course, “When I’m with you, all of our history is present with us, and everywhere we’ve been together.”

Those are the sorts of ideas about love we all have to grapple with if we’re going to go the distance.

I also really like the line, “Everywhere I never tried to get is here” – because it hints at the many places that you can still go with each other, that you didn’t realise existed before – that there’s always something new to learn, that you’re both always unfolding.  You could read it conversely as well; I just obviously am going to read things in the way they’re going to chime with my own lived experience.

“I can’t believe its coming true
I’m so up close to kissing you
A breath away from never going home
I don’t remember getting here
It seems to be sometime next year
I hope you won’t be…
Leaving me alone?”

This is an example of the kind of verse that Robert Smith will throw in there that can get a bit confusing.  He uses this frequently repeated motif of “never going home” and has been doing that since way back on the Disintegration album, and on songs like From The Edge Of The Deep Green Sea, and it puts in this kind of discordant note that says, “Ahem, where exactly are we eating?”  So you could read verses like that as describing affairs away from your “official” relationship, and if you look at commentary by fans out there in cyberspace, it does create that impression for a lot of people (there’s even a thread on this forum somewhere called “This. Here and Now. With Who?” :lol:).  I think you can read it like that, but I think you can also read it other ways.  It kind of depends on what you mean by “going home” – and the rest of what’s described, you can totally experience in a good relationship that’s gone on for a long time anyway – it’s just a question of how you look at it, and whether you’ve become jaded, and if you can look with new eyes and celebrate each other all over again, in both familiar and new ways.  Because the magic doesn’t actually have to wear off, and because, if you take a step back, you can look at something all over again with the same sense of wonder with which you saw it the first time around, whether that’s encountering your beloved or looking at the ocean or peering down a microscope or into a telescope etc etc.  And also, sometimes you can just flash back to earlier experiences you’ve had with each other, like when you’re looking down an infinity of mirrors, and you could see this verse as a flashback to, “Remember when we started?”

The rest of the song basically repeats sections from before, except for one verse in which I thought it was interesting to observe that the narrator describes his own emotions as fearful, scared, terrified; after describing his partner as unafraid earlier.  We can all cycle through various iterations of these emotions, and sometimes they’ll be opposite, and sometimes aligned.  Anyway, one person’s personal song or poem or narrative is never going to mean exactly the same to another person, but something I love about life is being able to compare notes with other people, and finding similarities we have in common, as well as differences that can make life interesting.  :)

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