Saturday, April 14, 2007

how i've been rethinking lyrics

i always love it when i go to a wedding and they play "every breath you take", thinking it's a love song when it's actually about stalking. and, after i read that "american girl" is actually (and obviously) about a girl trying to commit suicide, i've become obsessed about really listening to lyrics.

i should have always been doing this.

anyway, on my flight from cleveland to chicago to san francisco, i kept my ipod on and checked out some new stuff i downloaded - some of which were performances from the bridge school concert. one song, in particular, i played over and over because i just couldn't figure the lyrics out.

check them out. it's for the classic song "alison" by elvis costello.

i've come up with two different interpretations, one of which was actually corroborated.

first interpretation:
alison is the girl he pined for when they were both much younger, but he never did anything about it.

I'm not going to get too sentimental
like those other sticky valentines,
'cause I don't know if you are loving some body.
I only know it isn't mine.

she wound up marrying one of his friends, and he lost touch with her. anyway he sees her out somewhere, and she looks completely unhappy. and he's just there, staring at her, convincing himself that she would have been so much happier if their destinies aligned.

Alison, I know this world is killing you.
Oh, Alison, my aim is true.

all that seems literal, yes. but here's the thing: i think the lyrics are all happening in his mind as he watches her. he doesn't make any contact with her. it's all in the tone. it's not really conversational. it seems almost too smarky for him to tell her this when she already has a pissed off look on her face. i just think it's that moment of time that he's savoring and living in his imagination. it's what he would say if he had the balls to go through with it.

or maybe not.

second interpretation:
alison has a kid.

I heard you let that little friend of mine
take off your party dress

that's her regrettable entry into motherhood. she has a husband now, but they're now at the end of the road. why?

Sometimes I wish that I could stop you from talking
when I hear the silly things that you say

ladies and gentlemen of the jury, i think the child belongs to elvis. and she's married to a man who realizes that he's now the father of someone else's kid. and she knows it, and she's calling elvis out on this. but elvis wants nothing to do with her and the kid.

Alison, I know this world is killing you.
Oh, Alison, my aim is true

you see, it's not him saying that his love is true. his denials are adding into her pain. he knows it, and he's not stopping.

someone else also was sick enough to have this interpretation. so i think this interpretation has some weight to it. granted, that weight has a flabby midsection.

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