Song Crossfire 2.0

18 Jun

REMThe other day, Tyler tried to serenade me with Seal’s Kiss From A Rose. I’d like to think it was spurred by earnest and unrequited love. But I’d be wrong. The ballad had been stuck in his head for about a week and, as they say, misery loves company. Regardless, I rejected his angst-filled crooning because, hello, that song is about a dead woman. Gross.

“What are you talking about?” Tyler asked, “and how many Harlem Lemonades have you had tonight?”
“Grave!” I cried. “The rose kiss happens on a grave! Or something… Why would I make this up?!” A deep discussion ensued, and after yelling about Seal more than Heidi Klum in a divorce court, we took it to the Internets. That’s when we found something even more amazing than the answer: Darryl and Jerry’s Song Crossfire.

Who are Darryl and Jerry you ask? Well, they are “the self proclaimed gods of song interpretations” and my new best friends. They argue over the meaning of ambiguous ditties like “Sex and Candy” or Kelis’s “Milkshake” with humor, brevity and pizazz. In their world, The Wallflower’s “One Headlight” is about Pearl Harbor and Kelis’s entrepreneurial expertise is what REALLY brings all the boys to the yard. Oh, and there’s NOTHING Meat Loaf wouldn’t do for love. Get it? Point being: Darryl and Jerry had a brilliant idea. But, for mysterious reasons, they stopped debating song meanings in 2006. Things got pretty heated over Train’s “Drops of Jupiter,” so I wouldn’t be surprised if their disappearance involved some sort of space duel.

But fear not, readers. For one blog’s trash is another blog’s treasure, so we shall pick up where our ancestors left off. Tyler will battle me one day, but first I have to find a song for which he won’t immediately say “it’s about sex.” And so please welcome, back to the stage, my roommate Mazall. Oh, and R.E.M.


Molly: Okay, so we will be discussing the meaning of “Losing My Religion” by R.E.M. Video here. Lyrics here. Just in case you aren’t sure who to agree with, remember that I went to school in Athens, Georgia, just down the block from John Michael Stipe. And Mazall is from Salt Lake City, aka Mormon Country. The only thing she knows about religion is how fast to run from it.
*clears throat*
What we have here is a purposefully abstract song that employs the beautiful and seemingly-deep phrase “losing my religion.” Unless you are from the South, in which case you know it means getting uber pissed off because some democrat drank the last PBR. Now, I’m not trying to devalue the poetry in the song–Stipe was not your typical Southerner. But I’m pretty sure the song is really about a guy putting EVERYTHING he has into a relationship with a girl who eventually just screws it all up.

Mazall: Before I begin I’d like to defend my SLC roots. I am from Salt Lake City and as most of you know I am NOT a mormon. However, out of the oppressive cloud of doom that has hovered over the valley since Brigham Young began impregnating 13-year-olds grew a fierce underground art/music scene, which I happened to be savvy of.
*cough, sips water*
My point being, I know a thing or two about music. Moving on. I happen to think the song is about Stipe losing his faith in humanity. A fall from grace, if you will. I always viewed R.E.M songs as macro and looking outward rather than micro and focusing on themselves. The song is more selfless than that.

Molly: Yes, R.E.M. is one of those bands that you’d hope has a finger to the pulse of society and doesn’t just hang out in the Kroger pharmacy area, checking their blood pressure for free. And in general, perhaps. But in LMR, it’s just not the case. Let’s dust off my English degree and examine the verses in question. Even the first sentence reveals a love gone sour: “Life is bigger than you / and you are not me / the lengths that I will go to / the distance in your eyes”. This girl thinks the world revolves around her, and Stipe is basically saying, “Look, baby, there’s more to my life than you and your issues.” He tries to appease her, but she wants more than he can give. So there he is, in the corner, in the spotlight, and he’s mad. Wouldn’t you be? He’s trying “to keep up” but he can’t, and every time he tries to tell her, he knows not only has he “said too much”, but also, he can never say “enough” to make her happy. I’m sure all the boys out there have been in this situation PLENTY of times. Here’s a scene from Knocked Up to jog your memory:

Debbie: [crying] I like “Spider-Man”!!!!
Pete: Okay, then let’s go see “Spider-Man 3” next week.
Debbie: I don’t wanna see “Spider-Man”. I don’t want to have to ask you to ask me. I want you to think of it yourself.
Pete: Look, I don’t even know what I’m supposed to say to you.
Debbie: You think that just because you don’t yell, you’re not mean? This is mean!

Mazall: The inherent difference in our views of this song is stemming from the definition of what we perceive “You” is. “You” to you is a snippy, self-centered wench that is clearly an idiot because HI, YOU’RE DATING MICHAEL STIPE. SNAP OUT OF IT. To me, “You” is society. It’s the unwarranted wars, poverty, corruption and overall greed. “Trying to keep an eye on you/ Like a hurt, lost and blinded fool, fool”. He’s exhausting himself trying to keep up and come to terms with the injustice he sees happening all around him. He realizes he doesn’t have the capacity to do anything about it and he is defeated. This song is his white flag. Standing “in the corner”, he now looks on as a passive observer.
*pops two prozacs…prozi?*

Molly: Well, YOU are wrong. I mean, it’s nice and all sweetie darling but, again, the first line wouldn’t make sense if he was talking to humanity. Life is bigger than you, humanity? Don’t think so. Life is bigger than you, crazy narcissist woman? Yes, indeed it is. She is unhappy. Jealous, even. And he was deluded thinking it would work. He thought he saw her laughing, singing, trying. But no, “that was just a dream” because she is a self-centered band groupie who probably works at a small, moderately-successful art gallery during the day but is still way insecure because SHE IS DATING MICHAEL STIPE.

Mazall: But, you’re thinking too small, Moll! Michael Stipe is an artist. He’s working on abstract levels, even to the point of being Absurdist. In fact, the video could be an Absurdist play. Some obscure Ionesco, involving angels and metal workers and skinny, asexual men flailing their arms about. Yes, he is saying Life is bigger than you, humanity, even though you ARE life, get over yourself and straighten out because it’s causing me pain. I’m going to dust off my English degree chops as well (yes, you hear Molly belittle my intelligence frequently, but I went to college and actually did very well. But, I didn’t go to an Ivy League school as she also daily reminds me, so please pardon my insufferable, low-grade existence) and say that he is personifying humanity. And maybe humanity is supposed to be the self-centered band groupie, working at the art gallery. If so, I say Michael, dump the tramp, buy a bottle of prosecco and cry it out.

Molly: I will ignore the fact that the androgynous, frail, half-naked music video only reminds me of your social life and will try very hard to concentrate on the matter at hand. If Michael Stipe really thinks humanity is a gallery girl with a tramp stamp, then why did he write Shiny Happy People!? Wrong, wrong, wrong. I’d entertain your idea about personification if it weren’t for the pivotal proposal-gone-wrong scene at the end of the song:

Consider this
The hint of the century
Consider this
The slip that brought me
To my knees failed

No one proposes to humanity, no matter how bicurious they are. He either “slipped” on love, proposed, and she rejected him OR she was hinting about marriage big time and he fell to his knees but not to propose, no. It was to reach up into the sky with desperation, asking God and all the Angels why there was so much nagging, why there was so much hostility, WHHHHYYYYYY this crazy roommate of hers was so FRUSTRATING!!!! Oops. Ahem. Anyway, looks like it’s time to wrap up! Any last words, Maz?

Mazall: I will not defend my love interests because I would have to stoop to your level and insult you (also, we all know that androgynous, frail and half-naked are perfect adjectives for my choice in men so…well done you!!)
All I can say is “I wish YOU were just a dream”.

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17 Responses to “Song Crossfire 2.0”

  1. Sookie June 18, 2009 at 4:24 am #

    its not my fault that almost all songs are about sex!

    Blame the artists not me

    Darryl and Jerry would be proud

  2. claire - the other one June 18, 2009 at 2:33 pm #

    I think I know why Darryl and Jerry died out…you all are wrecking each other up there! Also, I have a vision of Darryl and Jerry as two guys in the Midwest looking at bit like the dudes from Wayne’s World, sitting at their computer listening to KISS…but I digress…

    • Molly June 18, 2009 at 2:53 pm #

      It’s true. Things got pretty tense between ol’ D&J. That’s why I’m going to do this with a different person every time. You up for it Claire Bear? I’m sure some of your emo indie rock is just BEGGING for interpretation.

  3. claire - the other one June 18, 2009 at 3:10 pm #

    A. It’s NOT emo

    2. It’s electronic/alternative/shoegazing or whatever

    C. I am TOTALLY up for it! Musical interpretation rocks my socks off…be prepared to get dominated, Mollykins

    • mazall June 18, 2009 at 4:06 pm #

      molly can throw a mean punch, but i have faith in you clairey. i came out relatively unscathed.

      • Molly June 18, 2009 at 8:07 pm #

        Why am I always the bad guy?

  4. Claire June 18, 2009 at 9:04 pm #

    Everyone knows that “Losing My Religion” is actually about a choirboy who eats a communion wafer and then pukes it up, thus “losing” it. Duh.

    • Molly June 18, 2009 at 9:05 pm #

      somebody had 4 too many margaritas at the beach club

      • Claire June 19, 2009 at 5:21 pm #

        OR!! it could be about someone who has misplaced their bible.

    • mazall June 18, 2009 at 9:24 pm #

      i wish i could have puked up communion wafers, however, i couldn’t get them past the point of being glued to the roof of my mouth

      • Molly June 18, 2009 at 9:26 pm #

        which explains your affinity for red wine

  5. mazall June 18, 2009 at 9:33 pm #

    touche mon petit cherie! mas vino pour la mama.

  6. Daniel June 18, 2009 at 10:09 pm #

    Ok, now debate the meaning of NIN’s “Closer.”

    • Claire June 19, 2009 at 5:22 pm #

      Easy – the mating habits of a particular muppet.

      • Molly June 19, 2009 at 5:32 pm #

        well that’s done. NEXT!

  7. Drewpreme June 24, 2009 at 1:22 pm #

    “Viva La White Girl” by Gym Class Heroes….

    Is it about:

    a) that Dwight Gooden Puddin?
    b) music?
    c) Drew ho trawling at a bar?
    d) some little vixen starlet?

    • molly June 24, 2009 at 1:24 pm #

      some mixture of B and D. Also, race.

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