Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Dido Arguments Revisited

It occurred to me that in my discussion of how some of the effects of near-constant solitude on my mental health manifest in the form of my engaging in “arguments” with Dido and other female performers whose music I listen to some of you might have wondered, “But what about the male performers you listen to?  Do you argue with them?”
(Of course, it also occurred to me that you probably didn’t wonder this, but for the sake of this entry we’ll assume that it was at least a possibility.)
The answer is that no, for the most part, I don’t.
Oh sure, there are the occasional arguments with Megadeth, but ask anyone:
it’s impossible to not argue with Dave Mustaine at least once in a while.
But beyond that, I mean, if we’re talking about Metallica from before 1991, I’m pretty much in total agreement with them all of the time, so there’s no reason to argue.
As for Black Sabbath, what I’m going to do, argue with Ozzy?  I don’t think so.
(He is the Prince of Effing Darkness, after all)
Then there’s Nick Cave…have you ever heard any of his songs?  That motherfucker is crazy.  I argue with him I’m going to wake up in the middle of the night with him standing over me with a  knife in his hand or something.
So no, I don’t really argue with the guys.
In any case, on the way home from class I was listening to Dido (and suppressing the urge to argue with her), and I think I realized why I argue with her in particular so often:  her pronoun usage.
Most of her songs are, essentially, sung directly to the listener.  Oh sure, it’s a sort of hypothetical listener, or perhaps a very specific potential listener, such as the man who scorned her, or at least scorned the persona she’s taking in the song, but the fact of the matter is that most of her songs – perhaps a disproportionate in comparison to other singers and perhaps not – are sung to “you.”
Some examples culled from several different songs:

“I cannot be until you’re resting here with me.”
“I want to thank you for giving me the best day of my life.”
“So you’re with her and not with me.”
“I should get on, forget you, but why would I want to?”
“And I promise you you’ll see the sun again.”
“Who makes you feel the way that I make you feel?”
(It’s worth noting that in the song that the last example is pulled from, there are instances in which the emphasis she puts on the word “feel,” along with the breathy sexiness she imbues it with makes you, well, feel it:  Who makes you feel the way that I make you feel?  Who loves you and knows you the way I do?  Who touches you and holds you quite the way I do?  Who makes you feel like I make you feel?”  The song is Who Makes You Feel on her album Life For Rent.  Check it out if you’ve never heard it.)
(Another aside:  looking at the track listing, nine of the eleven songs on Life for Rent are sung to “you.”  In Mary’s in India, she does squeeze in a “you,” but it’s directed to the titular Mary, so I don’t count that one.  The unlisted bonus track is also sung to “You,” though.)

As you can see, Dido’s choice of pronoun can’t help but create a kind of intimacy between her and the listener (especially if said listener is a little bit off his nut), so it makes sense (if we accept the basic premise of my arguing with songs) that I would argue with her more than with other singers who might not make things quite so personal.
And I realized that most of my “arguments” with her consist of denying the claims that she makes about “me.”
For example, there might be an “exchange” that goes something like this:

Dido:  I like to watch you sleep at night
Me:  You do not!  You’ve never even met me!  How can you like watching me sleep at night when you aren’t even aware of my existence?
(Later in the song)
Dido:  It’s been three years, one night apart, but in that night, you tore my heart
Me:  I did nothing of the sort!  Need I remind you, madam, that we’ve never met?

..and so forth.
Thinking on it further, I realized that the songs that are most likely to make me argue with Liz Phair or Jewel are songs that, similarly, make use of “You.”
For example, when Liz says, “I’ll bet you fall in bed too easily with the beautiful girls who are shyly brave and you sell yourself as a man to save,” my sarcastic response is, “Wow, Liz!  Bravo.  It’s like you’ve known me all your life!”  
I then go on to say, “The fact of the matter is that I don’t fall into bed – easily or otherwise – with anyone, let alone ‘beautiful girls who are shyly brave,’ and thanks very much for reminding me of what a lovelorn loser I am.  I really appreciate that.”

I know, I know, but at least I’m not hurting anyone in my lunacy.
Anyway, in Dido’s case (and sometimes with Liz as well), in her intimate connections with me, she will frequently make a “good call,” a statement that really does apply to me, and usually it doesn’t cast me in a favorable light and will sting more than a little.
So when she says, “See you when you’re forty, lost and all alone,” I lash out reflexively, as I consider my lonely future, and say something like, “See you in hell, you limey bitch!”
(Of course, as mentioned, I never stay mad at Dido because A. She’s adorable B.  I love her voice and C.  She’s a very good songwriter, and I actually appreciate the fact that listening to her songs can do anything to make me more self-aware.)
I mentioned that I don’t often argue with Sarah McLachlan (At worst, I’ll say, “Dammit, Sarah!” if it’s one of her songs that wakes me in the morning, and then I’ll lie there and listen to her for too long before finally getting out of bed..), and that’s mostly because even if she does (and she often does) point out an uncomfortable truth about me, the sheer mind-numbing beauty of her voice takes away the sting.
Sure, I think Dido, Liz, and the other women I listen to have great voices as well, and obviously I enjoy listening to them (even with the arguments), but Sarah is in a class all by herself.
I’ve mentioned before that if Sarah were my girlfriend I would request that she communicate with me solely through song so that I could always hear her singing.
I think I could very happily sit and listen to Sarah singing the menu from a Denny’s.
In fact, come to think of it, I would love to hear Sarah sing the words “Moon over My Hammy.”
Of course, none of this is meant to be taken seriously, and all of my arguments are just examples of my inherent goofiness and are basically just a way to break up the monotony of my life a little.
And as I think about it a little more – though I think it’s bet that I not think about this too much more – I realize that there’s a very simple reason why I don’t argue with the men I listen to:  I can sing along with them.
With the women, not so much.
It’s not so much about being insecure in my masculinity as just not wanting to ruin their performances with my atonal warbling.  Most of the male performers I listen to (with a few exceptions) have voices that are a lot less delicate and can therefore withstand my sub-American Idol reject quality singing.
In any case, I think that will do it for this entry, as anything else I write is likely to be nothing more than pointless complaints about my time on the road today (Two more days of this shit!), and I think it’s best if I spare you that.

No comments: