Monday, June 16, 2014

Funny Little Girl

This is somewhat a gender-flipped version of "My Funny Valentine," about a man whose looks are "laughable/ unphotographable." Yet, she loves him anyway: "You're my favorite work of art."

Here, the speaker says about his girlfriend that "you wouldn't call her smile a work of art." She also has "freckles," which some consider unattractive (personally, I could never see why), and has a "funny way she wears her clothes." All in all, she's "a cute and funny little girl."

Yet, it's not despite these quirks, but because of them, that our speaker is drawn to her. Her personality is winning-- she's "such a honey"-- and as to her un-artistic smile? He finds it "funny how it breaks [his] heart."

This is an unfortunate use of the term, which almost always has negative connotations. Here, he means that he finds her heart-wrenchingly lovely.

Yes, he does not just find her merely adorable, but arousing! "Every time we meet on the street/ Well, I just have to catch my breath... a little glance from her can set me all a-whirl."

Then, we are surprised by a clever way of describing the "heart in one's throat" feeling of intense emotion: "An elevator ride starts inside/ And it scares me half to death!" This is a very innovative and clever way of describing this feeling, at once startling and refreshing, yet instantly recognizable and familiar. Colloquial, but undeniably poetic.

In case we thought that his heart was breaking because he loved her from afar, and that their street-meetings were accidental, we have this affirmation: "I thank the Moon above and all the stars that shine/ That this funny little girl is mine."

A slight song, but what a relief it must be to the "plain Janes" of the world that they can find a nice man who will over the moon about them, even if they don't look like the starlets described in all the other songs.

Also, the song stresses the importance of a sense of humor. How many comediennes became huge stars based on their quick wits, despite having less-than-model-perfect features? And how long do such superficial things last, in any case?

The speaker is smart enough to know that "she has a great personality" is not necessarily damning by faint praise, but some of the strongest praise there is.

Next Song: Tell Tale Heart

Monday, June 9, 2014

Haven't You Hurt Me Enough?

[Note: according to liner notes in a CD I came into possession of after having posted this, the writer is "unknown."]

I admit I expected less from this song. It seemed like it might be another whiny "woe-is-me" number about a man suffering at the "cruelty" of a woman who doesn't love him back. And now, she's-- what, seeing guys she does like? And he's taking it personally...

Nope. This song is about a man suffering the at the cruelty of a woman who is actually being actively cruel.

At least he has not internalized her meanness and blamed himself. He even tries to analyze her behavior.

It starts with her breaking it off, and breaking his heart. Still, he is willing to move on and "forget." All healthy behavior on his part-- you mourn, then you move on.

But she is not content to leave it at that. She actively torments him: "Last night just for a joke/ You called to say hello... You call just to tease me/ And tell me about the other guys you see."

As former US First Lady Nancy Reagan said, there is a name for people like this, and it rhymes with "witch." There is really something wrong with someone who adds insult to injury, rubs salt in wounds they have inflicted... and keeps kicking the person they have already, as we used to say, kicked to the curb.

She knows this hurts him-- "You knew that every word was breaking my poor heart"-- and he starts to realize that this is her motivation: "Does it make you feel good to know that I'm feeling blue?"

The German word for this is "schadenfreude," happiness at someone else's pain. In this case, it's coupled with sadism, happiness from inflicting that pain.

Through his tears, our sensitive man keeps working on understanding her logic, warped as it is: "I know you don't love me/ Why do you want me to keep loving you?"

Then it dawns on him that the answer is in the question: "Your pride's too strong to let me go." By continuing to torment him, she continues to revel in her strength, and her power over him.

He tries to appeal to her compassion, although he already knows she has none: "It's all a game to you/
But I'm the one who cries." And so the song ends as it began, with our victim still in tears.

Verbal and emotional abuse, stalking, and other such bullying has since migrated from the telephone to the worldwide party line that is the Internet.

And men do suffer such abuse, even physical abuse, at the hands of women. A recent video showed two actors demonstrating this by arguing in a London park (search on YouTube for the channel "POZAPAPO"). First, the man shoves the woman. Instantly, women accost him and protected her. In the second scenario, she shoves him into the same fence. Women watched... and some even laughed. (The men in the park avoided involvement in both cases.)

Then the video ends with this statistic: "40% of domestic violence is suffered by men."

Far from being a whiny song about a man who imagines that a woman's disinterest is a personal slight, this is actually a very brave song about the difficulties of dealing with abuse. How do you defend yourself without coming across as the bully? How do you stop someone from calling night after night? What do you do with people who never hurt you "enough"?

Decades after this song was written, society continues to struggle with these issues.

Next Song: Funny Little Girl