Monday, 8 August 2016

Not When, Not Where, Not What, Not Even Who

"Why," by Annie Lennox

This might be the saddest goddamned love song I've ever heard. It's got everything love has: passion, boredom, pity, self-pity, weakness, strength, honesty, dishonesty, despair and hope and inside-out wretchedness. It's also about two people who are finished with each other, which is why it's so goddamned sad. And, just as love so often does when it spreads through you, it never lets you know who's talking or what's being heard or felt by the partner in the whole enterprise. Nobody gets -- i.e., understands -- love, so that's no big surprise, but it takes a master actor-singer to get us hoping that someone might.

From what I can tell, Annie Lennox is one of those masters. She uses the studio and her backing singers to ecstatic effect, but they know who's boss in this tune; you don't even have to listen closely to realize her voice is always in charge. But then, almost four minutes in, when you've already been bushwhacked by all the aural beauty, you get the singer singing and reciting the blunt, hair-raising poetry of the song's last words: This is the book I never read/These are the words I never said/This is the path I'll never tread/These are the dreams I'll dream instead/This is the joy that's seldom spread/These are the tears/The tears we shed/This is the fear/This is the dread/These are the contents of my head/And these are the years that we have spent/And this is what they represent/And this is how I feel/Do you know how I feel?/'Cause I don't think you know how I feel/I don't think you know what I feel/I don't think you know what I feel/You don't know what I feel. . . . 

. The song is done, and so are you.

(I like singing along to the music I listen to as much as any fellow, and, thankfully, those lines are great even with lesser voices like mine trying them out, but they're even greater when you stop singing and just pay attention to them. Just stop and listen. Maybe tomorrow, if you're feeling up to it, try joining in.)