Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Currently on the Holmes Playlist

The excellent 'Your ex-lover is dead', by 'Stars'

Lyrics here.

It's a wonderful song about two ex-lovers meeting each other by chance, and the awkwardness and regret and mixed feelings it inspired.
God, that was strange to see you again
Introduced by a friend of a friend
Smiled and said, "Yes, I think we've met before"
In that instant it started to pour
The man seems to view the reunion with a kind of distance. His demeanour suggests a brief affair which he discarded, an impression that gets reinforced later.
Captured a taxi despite all the rain
We drove in silence across Pont Champlain
And all of that time you thought I was sad
I was trying to remember your name.
Forgetting her name seems to make sense mainly as a metaphor, if they've been introduced. Which is a shame, because the scene becomes more poignant if he literally can't remember her name. Their tryst made such a small impression on the man. The 'I think we've met before' and the silence suggest an awkwardness on his part at the situation, and a certain desire to extricate himself from the situation, but piqued interest in seeing her again, and a brief reigniting of the initial spark (tempered with the strangeness of the situation).

At this point, we switch to the woman's perspective:
This scar is a fleck on my porcelain skin
You tried to reach deep but you never got in
And now you're outside me, you see all the beauty
Repent all your sin.

Nothing but time and a face that you'll lose
I chose to feel it and you couldn't choose
I'll write you a postcard, I'll send you the news
From the house down the road from real love
Immediately, we can see that the man's insouciance is not at all shared by the woman. It's clear that the ending of their affair was painful for her in a lasting way. The implication of her tone (especially the 'repent all your sin' line) is that the man ended the affair, possibly in a somewhat indifferent or callous fashion. This captures the sadness of so many casual relationships - they are rarely actually casual for both parties, and if they last any length of time, it becomes increasingly likely that someone's feelings will be hurt. The woman strikes a somewhat defiant demeanour, insisting that she has moved on, and that the loss is his - the scar of her hurt is now only a fleck, after all.

But this speech is an internal monologue - they sit in silence, after all. This is the woman telling herself that she is better off.

In the next verse, we see past the initial posture - though she has moved on, the pain is not far beneath the surface, and she expresses it with a touching honesty:
There's one thing I have to say so I'll be brave
You were what I wanted
I gave what I gave
I'm not sorry I met you
I'm not sorry it's over
I'm not sorry there's nothing to save
I'm not sorry there's nothing to save
I love these lines so much. They capture incredibly well the conflict in her feelings - the hurt, the rejection, and a determination to move past it. To own up to this is indeed brave. The easy thing would be to maintain the facade of pure indifference and disdain, but that would ring hollow and false.

Originally, I thought that the last lines above were 'I'm not sorry there's nothing to say'. I think this would work even better - despite the woman's claimed importance of what she has to say, it is ultimately cathartic. There is indeed nothing to say, only mixed emotions that die in the ashes of long burned out love affairs.

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