Saturday, February 12, 2005

top 5 songs about rejection: i ain't very good, but i get practice by myself.

I came back to Kitchener-Waterloo sick (with The Cold that everyone at Queen's has) and cranky this weekend to go shopping for bridesmaids' dresses. My best friend from highschool is getting married in August, which is still difficult to wrap my head around. One day this past summer, I went to look at wedding dresses with her and bought a new skateboard deck afterwards. It was then I learned a little something about "different life stages." Anyway, the most horrifying thing about our six-and-a-half hour excursion today was how many dresses looked like dresses I tried on for Fake Prom, except these ones cost at least twenty times more, were (theoretically) not designed in 1982, and were (theoretically) not supposed to be worn only as a joke. At least I wasn't almost killed by any of these dresses, as opposed to when my life nearly ended in a flurry of red sequins in the Phase 2 changeroom.

You get two songs in one go today because I got lazy and sick earlier in the week. These are both relatively light-hearted, because tomorrow, not so much.

The Long Winters - Stupid
"You tell me no, that I'm a fool to go calling her and calling her. You can call me stupid when she tells me it has to end. Stupid? You could call it that, stupid, but you have no idea how stupid I would feel if fifteen years from now I see her and she says 'Why didn't it happen between us, stupid?'"

Of course, there is a reason we put ourselves through all of this, and that reason is hope. And foolishness, but also hope. Okay, frankly, they're pretty much the same thing most of the time, at least when it comes to my love life. For several days several weeks ago, this was a big theme song for me and what was supposed to be my imminent declaration of love; then I found out the person in question had a conveniently undisclosed girlfriend, so it was more like "I'm Going To Beat You Up As Soon As I Stop Crying" by The You Pathetic Lying Alcoholic Band (it's pretty obscure, you can only find it on 7"). But despite my bitterness, I've found that it's almost always better to put yourself out there — even when the possible consequences include public humiliation, becoming the laughingstock of your entire junior high, ostracization by those of your 'friends' who still believe in 'dignity', and, always worse than all of those, just knowing that the person you like doesn't like you back (by the way, "the worst thing they can say is 'no'" is a big lie: people can get very, very creative when they find you repulsive yet non-threatening) — instead of wondering what could have happened. And I like this song because it knows that it's worth it too: not in a naive way, believing that nothing could possibly go wrong, but in a strong and deliberately innocent way that you have to earn through experience.

The Long Winters are one of my favourite bands, solely due to how much I love their album When I Pretend To Fall, and I'm pretty sure this is the first Long Winters song I ever heard. Although it's definitely been eclipsed by some of what I've heard since, "Stupid" is still a good introduction to a solid, clever power-pop band who never quite give you what you expect in terms of song structure, but remain very accessible. This is one of their simplest tracks, but comes off that much more bright-eyed and sincere as a result. My favourite part of "Stupid" is the enthusiasm in John Roderick's voice, so full of nerves and excitement that there are exclamation marks everywhere: "She has NO IDEA! she could make me do anything! She acts like it's THE SIMPLEST THING! for me to be there!" It's like that sense you have that you're going to explode if you don't tell someone how you feel about them, and then glittery pink heart-shaped confetti will fly everywhere, along with bits of your intestines.

No one wants to clean that up, so please grow some metaphorical balls and say something. "But what should I say?" you ask. "And what if I go down in flames?" Well, listen and learn, kids . . .

The Replacements - If Only You Were Lonely
"Well, I ordered a scotch as I bust through them doors — spilled half on my jeans, the other half on the floor — when I saw you standing by that video game. Well, I ain't very good, but I get practice by myself. Forgot my one line, so I just said what I felt: 'If only you were lonely, if only you was lonely too, if only you was lonely, I'd go home with you.'"

I'm going to be the bigger person here and admit that I only know three Replacements songs: this one, "Alex Chilton," and "Can't Hardly Wait." Apparently this isn't even an album track, and I'm not sure how I came across it in the first place, but it was too charming to forget. The Replacements get brought up a lot in Ryan Adams reviews, and even simply based on those three songs, it's not an inept comparison: in his drunker, more genuine, more heartbreaking moments, he's written a few songs that are at least spiritual siblings to stuff like "If Only You Were Lonely."

This is a stripped-down acoustic number where the vocals still sound just as woefully inebriated as the night being sung about. "There was LIQ-UORRRRRRRR on my breath, you were ONNNNNNNN my mind!" should be howled on university campuses just as often as anything from "Home For A Rest," but hey, I don't run the world (and that's probably a good thing). This song also celebrates the magical combination of alcohol abuse and trying to make new lady/gentleman friends, which I think is so popular in part because if you crash and burn, at least you can't really remember much of it. After getting shot down, our narrator drinks some more, pukes, passes out, and then wakes up with an awful hangover and a mysterious optimism, considering that the best part of his life seems to be his drinking problem. Maybe he'll meet a nice girl in AA.

"I walked out of the kitchen, I was tired as hell. Another day's here — oh well. Somewhere, there's a smile with my name on it."