Friday, April 13, 2012

Song Opposites - To Need Is To Love?

Well, it's been a ridiculously long time since I've written a post.  Mostly because I'm working on other things, but also because I try not to write a post unless I have something to write about.  This is a little more meme than post, but it's an idea I had and decided to pursue for as long as I can come up with options for it.

"I Want You But I Don't Need You"

Warning: Contains language and overzealous fangirl screeching.

When I first heard this cover by Amanda Palmer, I immediately fell in love with the lyrics.  The original version by Momus is worth hearing too (and the only one available for purchase).  For me personally, it's really important to be in a relationship because I want to be, and not because I need to be.  I stayed in my first relationship far longer than I should have, simply because I was convinced that no other guy would ever like me. (Don't go feeling bad for the guy, I'm fairly certain looking back that he stayed with me for the same reasons.  We made much better friends than boyfriend/girlfriend.)  Once we broke up, I spent a lot of time trying to convince guys who had no interest in being serious to stay with me.  See, I had spent the entirety of high school with the same guy and I didn't know how to be alone.  It took me years to take a step back and begin to realize that relationships were not crutches to lean on, but rather something you add to your life to enrich it (and maybe eventually continue the species, if that's your thing).  So at this point and time in my life, it made perfect sense that this song would appeal to me.

But then a while after, I realized what my favorite love song of all time is.

"Come Undone"

"Who do you need, who do you love when you come undone?"

It certainly made me stop and think for a minute, and wonder if maybe I needed to stamp hypocrite on my forehead.  The easy answer might be "I fell in love with this song when I was 12 and knew nothing about real relationships" but the fact is I still love this song, still feel a deep connection to it today.

To me, the question being asked in the song is "When you are at your lowest, who do you want there to comfort you?"  At that moment, you do need someone.  Someone to just assure you that everything is going to be okay.  And while anyone could say it to you, there's probably someone in your life you want to hear it from the most.

So while on the surface these songs seem to be opposite, in reality (at least as far as I see it) they're talking about very different things.  The first addresses the dynamics of the relationship - I feel for you how I feel for you regardless of how you feel about me. But if you begin to hang on me and need me, I am out of here because I'm not interested in a parasitic relationship.  The second talks about those bad times we all have now and again, the times when nothing is going right or you just feel down in the dumps and can't find a way out, and having someone to hold you in those moments can bring you a temporary relief.

If you looked at the singers as two people in the same relationship, in my opinion Amanda would be a jerk for leaving Simon at that moment.  Knowing that Amanda is actually a huge fan of Duran Duran makes that scenario particularly amusing to me.

Of course I'm only looking at the words to the chorus on "Come Undone."  I'll be honest, the rest of the song doesn't really make much sense to me.  But at least it sounds pretty!

Do you interpret the songs differently?  What love song do you identify with the most?


  1. +JMJ+

    Hmmmm. I'm going to play Internet philosopher now and suggest that "love" is different altogether from "need" and "want." You can need and want to be in a relationship with someone and still not love them (e.g., selfish co-dependence). But those categories aside, I think "need" is a great metaphor for very deep love. If the context of the whole song supports that, then the cognitive dissonance of the listener shouldn't be too great. =)

    PS -- "My" Duran Duran song is Ordinary World. When I'm really sad, I put it on repeat for an hour and then I feel consoled. I get what you mean about a deep connection, even if Simon LeBon's lyrics aren't really supposed to make sense. It's the music, really. And if some of the words manage to intersect with what I believe the music is saying, then that makes it even better.

  2. Ordinary World ranks really high on my list too, as it's the first song that made me really notice the band. I had been aware of them for a long time, but I really liked that song.. and then they released "Come Undone" and I was sold. :)


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