The choice of radio listening is limited; on Saturday afternoons, particularly so. Most stations offer sport and prattle, or pop and prattle, or sport, pop and prattle. Away from the mainstream diet, the classical music station’s selection was not attention-grabbing (well, not attention-grabbing for someone who knows nothing about classical music). Looking for something mellow on a bitingly cold afternoon, I took “21” by Adele and Dido from a shelf in the study and put them into the car.
It was probably three years since “21” last got a play; a case of buying an album and playing it so often that it begins to wear thin. Dido’s “Life for Rent” had been unplayed for considerably longer. Driving familiar roads going about routine duties, there was leisure to reflect on the lyrics of the songs, reflections which became troubling.
First there was Dido’s song “White Flag”.
I know you think that I shouldn’t still love you,
Or tell you that.
But if I didn’t say it, well I’d still have felt it
where’s the sense in that?
I promise I’m not trying to make your life harder
Or return to where we were
Why would the “you” of the song think there should be no expressions of love? The second stanza of the song talks of the “mess and destruction” of the former relationship, but the thrust of the lyrics is that letting go of the past is a surrender and that persisting in love of someone who is unavailable is reasonable.
Adele’s song “Someone like you” was even more troubling.
I heard that you’re settled down
That you found a girl and you’re married now
I heard that your dreams came true
Guess she gave you things I didn’t give to you
Old friend, why are you so shy?
Ain’t like you to hold back or hide from the light
I hate to turn up out of the blue, uninvited
But I couldn’t stay away, I couldn’t fight it
I had hoped you’d see my face and that you’d be reminded
That for me, it isn’t over
Never mind, I’ll find someone like you
I wish nothing but the best for you, too
Don’t forget me, I beg, I remember you said
Sometimes it lasts in love, but sometimes it hurts instead
“That for me, it isn’t over?” Is that the equivalent of Dido declaring there would be no white flag?
It’s odd hearing songs, as if for the first time. Weren’t these songs huge hits? Weren’t they played in countless places around the world? What were they saying to those who listened? Was it thought fair sport to disrupt someone’s relationship or marriage?
Sport, pop and prattle is much easier than thinking too much.