Tuesday, February 10, 2009

This Stretch of Road

Tenderness and words so full of meaning
Slopes of pleasure down which your thoughts just keep careening
For the first time the only thing you want is more
Yeah, you had all of these things, before

Is this love?
It's not what you're thinking of
When did it become a chain to the place you're coming from?

Second chances never turn out like the first
'Cause they start with promises that just end up hurting worse
No matter how bright the memories of old
You can't start a fire from ashes gray and cold

Is this love?
It's not what you're thinking of
When did it become a chain to the place you're coming from?

Sometimes the future seems so very far away
When the echoing past holds you hostage here today
Oh don't compromise your hope with this constant throbbing pain
You won't ever walk this stretch of road again

Is this love?
It's not what you're thinking of
When did it become a chain to the place you're coming from?
Where are you going?


After a busy move and settling down in the new place a bit, I'm back.

For the most part I think writing a song about love is like standing in line to beat a dead horse's grave, especially with a lot of today's songwriters--even so-called experimental musicians don't seem capable of stretching outside of their own sighing and navel-gazing to come up with words that challenge something outside the lowest common denominator. It's tough not to become desensitized to the entire subject, though I'm still partial to a love song done well, as long as it's not an album full of them. Suffice to say, if I'm going to write a song about romantic love, I hope to do it in a way that approaches the subject from a fresh angle and/or imbues the song with some authentic and compelling emotion (though even that is becoming hackneyed these days).

A lot of people seem to define love as some sort of objective phenomenon that exists based on criteria outside of their control. Being "in" love and "out of" love become black-and-white states and people seem to put up with a lot of unacceptable behavior from others because they've already signed the "I love you" contract. I've suspected for a while that love (in any transcendental sense) is a flimsy concept, and that each person probably has a unique, very complex definition surrounding love, and that's probably the only real (extremely subjective) standard by which all things "love" should be measured--on an individual basis.

The first verse starts out describing a seemingly ideal situation between two people only to reveal that the good times are now memories. Verse two describes the perpetual descent of the relationship into repeated pain in the hope that the old happy times can be re-attained. Finally, the third verse encourages a break in the cycle and alludes to now as a time that is precious and won't be repeated. All the while the chorus asks--is this constantly painful relationship, this ghost of past emotional pleasure, this daily defeat, is this LOVE? If the answer is yes, perhaps the "love" contract you signed and are tragically trying to uphold needs to be compared with reality and the pros and cons need to be weighed. Not the happiest or easiest proposal, but the payoff comes in the potential of the future and freedom from the energy vacuum of a negative situation.

A pretty simple song about owning up to reality and actively making your own life better (by cutting your losses, if need be), written from the heart in empathy for a friend. Why trap yourself in the confines of someone else's definition of love when you can define, embrace, and bestow your own version of love on someone who will appreciate it?