Friday, 27 November 2009

A Song For Me


It has long been a courtship ritual that all couples find themselves at a social gathering at least once in those formative years where they manage to make fools of themselves during the three minutes that it takes to play a pop song and forever after that song becomes ‘their tune’. Subsequent plays of their tune brings forth a rush of either cringing embarrassment or fond memory dependant upon what went on during the period.


If couples can have a song all to themselves, then why not individuals? Of course everybody has favourite songs but I’m thinking here more of a sort of signature tune that represents the person rather than just a once liked melody. If truth be told mine would probably be Garbage’s ‘Only Happy When it Rains’. It just seems so right in all sorts of ways.

First, it has a quirky song structure which is quite basic yet a bit mystifying. It only has two musical sections in it which alternate backward and forwards in a ABAB pattern which under normal circumstances would be labelled ‘verse’ and ‘chorus’ yet it is not really clear which is which. I love the ambiguity of it and the fact that it cannot be easily pigeon-holed. It feeds my appetite for the strange and off-kilter in art.

I’m only happy when it rains
I’m only happy when it’s complicated
And though I know you can’t appreciate it
I’m only happy when it rains

Second, the lyric is gloriously melancholic, born of singer Shirley Manson’s own well-documented depression, yet has an intrinsic uplifting quality and that is its utter open-wound honesty. As a true Piscean melancholic dreamer myself, I embrace the sentiments entirely and love the pragmatic anti-optimistic message. In fact its wry observations make me smile with recognition and for that alone it is worth its weight in medication as a pick-me-up. I recommend it unreservedly as despite it all, I always feel better for hearing it.

You know I love it when the news is bad
Why it feels so good to feel so sad
I’m only happy when it rains

And lastly, it is true: I’m only happy when it rains. Well, not exactly, but I really don’t like the sun in that sort of blisteringly hot all day every day holiday type thing. It makes me sweat and turns me lobster colour. I like the British climate and could never live anywhere where it is sunny all day.

I only smile in the dark
My only comfort is the night gone black
I didn’t accidentally tell you that
I’m only happy when it rains

Naturally, it helps that it has a great melody and has an edgy arrangement based around swirling guitars and thumping drums. The sledgehammer treatment surrounding Manson’s beautifully judged vocals lift it out from the usual pop mush of the charts and put it in a place where I am happy to seek it out. In fact Manson is one of the best live singers I know. She has great pitch control and bags of style. Sing it girl!

I’m only happy when it rains
You want to hear about my new obsession
I’m riding high upon a deep depression
I’m only happy when it rains

Yes, it’ll do for me.

6 comments:

bearockr said...

hmmm.. Never heard the song you mentioned above , but the way you have described it in your context seems amazing ! A song for me would be "November Rain" , because its got a beautiful start , and the passion really takes me into it ! Then, you have a little hardness coming in, and such a thoughtful solo by slash that it really drowns me into a kind of pool, full of joy and emotions, and finally, the strong, fierce solo and some whacky keyboard rhythm at the end ! Love the song totally !

musicobsessive said...

Hi bearockr! Do I infer that you are a thoughtful, passionate yet wacky person?? lol!

Perplexio said...

Pat Dailey's Being Me would be mine.

I never set a clock to wake me up
I leave that to that coffee in my cup
And as the world assembles
I will be the absentee
That's just what it's like being me

I am a man who wants no telephone
I have no need to speak when I'm alone
My friends say I'm reclusive
Well I guess I would agree
That's just what it's like being me

I spend my days thinking of a song
Sometimes all the words just come out wrong
On those days I do nothing but just sit down by the sea
That's just what it's like being me

One time I tried to throw my heart around
But it wound up in pieces on the ground
Now I make no promise, and I get no guarantee
That's just what it's like being me

Nothing lasts forever so they say
And tomorrow is not mine like yesterday
So I hold on to these passing moments most tenaciously
That's just what it's like being me

And I never set a clock to wake me up
I leave that to the coffee in my cup
And as the world assembles I will be the absentee
And that's just what it's like being me.

musicobsessive said...

Hi Perplexio - I like this. It could also be a little bit me. Btw, I think you now hold the record for the longest comment recorded on this blog!

Jayne said...

I have been thinking of this on and off, and when I saw your comment on my blog I smiled, as it was something I was thinking about blogging about too. There are four songs that make up 'my song', and it is very strange, as they are not all by favourite bands. Sometimes I think songs just speak to your soul. So mine are 'I am a Rock' - Simon & Garfunkel, 'Georgy Girl' - The Seekers, 'Paperback Writer' - The Beatles and 'Where's Your Head At?' - Basement Jaxx. I might expand more on this in a blog post at some time!

I like your reasoning of why 'Only Happy When It Rains' is your song. I can see why that works!

musicobsessive said...

Hi Jayne! I think 'they are not all by favourite bands' is exactly right - that is why the songs you have chosen are truly representative of you, it's a feeling thing - although having four is a bit greedy:) I'm looking forward to your justification of this mix 'n' match concept although I can already see the strands converging. Can't wait!