by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2007/09/07, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2007/09/07/4326344.aspx
(Nothing technical,you know the drill)
Not too long ago I was talking to Liz again and she asked what I thought of Rachael Yamagata.
It is actually the singer/songwriter's birthday later this month like four days before mine, which Liz had some read somewhere and apparently was curious.
My answer was simple enough -- she holds a special place for me, due to a particular song of hers that was a perfect expression of how I felt in a time of my life when I was too young to really understand and verbalize how I felt.
This was a brief period in my early to mid 20's that I found myself in the position of being just a friend to many different women who I actually had crushes on.
Unenviable for two reasons --
One because the whole premise of the When Harry Met Sally story where the good friend will, having put in the time, happen to be around right after a messy breakup and have the relationship flower into a lifelong romance is a fiction -- it just doesn't happen in the real world.
And two because I found being a male version of Rachael's Worn Me Down (minus the singing talent of course) to be way too exhausting and frustrating, emotionally.
As luck would have it, I then moved out of that phase and into several others in the years since then. Mostly (though not all) more productive than this particular one, specially the phase I finally settled into which is where they really are just friends and nothing else honestly occurs to me, which is either a form of emotional maturity or more cynically for the real reason behind "mature wisdom" (being too damn tired).
When Worn Me Down came out a few years ago (I want to say Fall 2003 when it came out with EP where I heard it, since Happenstance didn't come out until the middle of the next year and I think shows like Charmed picking it up happened after that), I was actually pretty scared at the time how well it captured what I felt but never expressed in those innocent days where I somehow knew how to be sensitive to people's feelings without really communicating what I was feeling myself.
Liz knew me best before all of this happened and although we did not talk much during that time we have obviously talked from time to time since. But she never got to know that Michael too terribly well (there were a few of the resultant scars we discussed -- there was a Christine in there, and a Roanna, and another Christine).
Anyway, after Liz and I hung up the phone, I put Worn Me Down on to play more than just a few times. It really does capture words that I could have said to several different women back then, though I did not have the words yet (and Rachael wasn't even in Bumpus yet, let alone in her solo career. Maybe if I had known her everything would have turned out differently, on the other hand maybe the song didn't mean that much to her and if I ever met her and thanked her for giving me closure on something that she wouldn't really react to it as such a big deal. Which is probably why I won't say anything -- it's over anyway, so telling an incredibly talented singer/songwriter four years and four days my junior that she sang a song that perfectly described a time in my life that was long over just seems like a mildly pointless exercise....
If I had the words, maybe I would have said them?
Gone -- she’s gone.
How do you feel about it?
That’s what I thought.
You’re real done up about it.
And I wish you the best,
But I could do without it.
And I will because you’ve worn me down.
Oh, I will because you’ve worn me down.
Worn me down like a road.
I did everything you told.
Worn me down to my knees.
I did everything to please.
But you can’t stop thinking about her.
No, you can’t stop thinking about her.
On the other hand, they are hard words to say, since I'd be thinking about how hard these words would be to hear.
So if I had the words, I would have just been able to end that phase early and perhaps skip one or two of the later phases that occurred. It might have come in handy, all things considered.
Makes me wonder how worn out I'd be now if I'd been able to save all of that drama back then....
Just to talk about language for a minute, the song does something very interesting from a language standpoint -- it does not finish thoughts (e.g. "I did everything you told [me to do]" and "I did everything to please [you]"). I know that is how the sentences finish since later in in the song she does finish them that way. But the words are kind of suggested anyway, so you get to make sure the words are implied and then still get to keep the rhyme going.
Sometimes I find that clever; other times, it feels almost kind of lazy to me. I go back and forth on it. It is the kind of thing that I almost always find clever when Aimee Mann does it since the way she finishes them doesn't match what I expected, which actually adds some additional complexity.
In any case, the song is one that I can listen to again and again, which is one of the reasons that I do not listen to my music where other people would have to listen too. :-)
I suppose I could have waited until her birthday to post this, but it was done so I figured why wait?
This post brought to you by ♩ (U+2669, a.k.a. QUARTER NOTE)
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