Our weekly sob sesh.
Today I’m going to talk about two songs that sound very sweet and loving, but have a darker meaning or message then I had originally thought.
There Is A Light That Never Goes Out (The Smiths)
The original “I Will Follow You Into the Dark” as I like to think of it. This song starts off with the narrative of a man wanting to stay out all night with his “love” because he’s contemplating his existence and doesn’t feel like he belongs anywhere, “driving in your car, I never want to go home, because I haven’t got one.” Classic sad boy stuff which at the time in my “Nobody-understands-me” stage of high school, I found very relatable.
At the chorus we realize he has been contemplating death this whole time and mentions that if something were to happen to the two of them it would have been a privilege “to die by her side.” Yeesh. Dark stuff. But as a teen I thought this was highly romantic.
The Graveyard Near The House (The Airborne Toxic Event)
Wow. I picked some w o r d y songs. This song has a very similar meaning and intention as There is a Light and is even more explicit about it. The song starts with the narrator describing his conversation with a girl about their relationship, “You asked me if I thought we would ever die, And if life and love both fade so predictably, We've made ourselves a kind of predictable lie.” As the song goes on, he reflects on their conversation and if their relationship means anything. He compares the living and the dead, “Half turned to dust in tattered clothes, Though we probably look just as silly now” remarking on how they are just fooling themselves by trying to be together in the present.
And so the song goes on in a depressing manner similar to the dark, introspective pattern of There is Light and I Will Follow You Into the Dark. What makes this song different is that it ends on a glimmer of hope and the importance love plays in our lives as the narrator realizes that despite what may happen in the future he still loves the girl now in the present. He says, “I'll defy everyone and love you still” and then goes on to explain that, “It's better to love, whether you win or lose or die.” Although a cheesy line outside of the context of the song, this line feels like a hopeful bookends to a rather contemplative thought that I have had myself from time to time and a good reminder to appreciate the loved ones still in my life.
Spiderwebs (No Doubt)
I’m experiencing a No Doubt renaissance in my life, and an appreciation for songs I didn’t pay much attention to when I was younger. One of these is Spiderwebs, a nice jaunty song about Gwen Stefani screening her phone calls. I’m ashamed to say I only recently started paying attention to the lyrics and the story behind them. It’s all about Gwen Stefani being stalked! By a creep! Who would incessantly call her up and try to read her his poetry! And that’s why she has to screen all her phone calls!
Back in 1996 it wasn't so easy to know who was calling you. Gwen had to go through the emotional turmoil of not knowing whether or not a stalker would be on the end of the line if she picked up her ringing phone, so she had to let every incoming call go to voicemail. It haunted her (understandably). Honestly it comes through pretty strongly in the lyrics and I feel kind of dumb for not noticing sooner.
You're intruding on what's mine and
You're taking up my time
Don't have the courage inside me
To tell you please let me be
Suddenly it’s a very dark song about feeling powerless, paranoid, and scared (i.e. "trapped in a spider's web") of a manipulative man. It's an awful feeling that too many women are familiar with. I'm thankful for Gwen for proving that you can turn these experiences into bangers, and happy that she gets to scream "It's all your fault" over and over again, which I'm sure was cathartic.
Dancing in the Street (David Bowie/Mick Jagger cover)
I feel an obligation choose something light to close everything out after all these other entries. I've been very into covers lately, and few covers bring me more joy than David Bowie and Mick Jagger's version of Dancing in the Street. The song is fine, but I really only like it because I can't separate it from the music video which is just fun and wacky and seasoned with Bowie/Jagger sexual tension. Mick Jagger's shirt has inexplicably gigantic and billowy breast pockets, David Bowie is wearing pajamas(?) with a belt and trench coat, and they still manage to be cool about it. (Sidebar: I've always thought this would make a great Halloween costume).
It has the feeling of being unplanned and thrown together because it was. They did everything in a matter of hours. It's pure lightness to me, though I suspect there was maybe some cocaine involved.
It kind of speaks for itself. Enjoy!!