Monday, May 12, 2008

even if your hands are shaking: john mayer and more thoughts on conventional romantic ideas...

So part of me really likes this song. I mean, oftentimes I find it incomprehensible when people don't like the same music I do so maybe that should be taken into account but really it's a theme commonly expressed in the young(ish) and angsty- it's better to say too much than to never say what you need to say

And I couldn't disagree more, John. I will go ahead and speak as a young(ish) and angsty person and declare that I have often really resonated with this sentiment: I don't believe in having regrets, I'm probably more passionate about things than is prudent, and I'm (sometimes brutally) honest to a fault. So I speak from experience when I say that, really, sometimes, it is better to keep your mouth shut. Seriously, not everything that we feel like NEEDS to be shared, really needs to be shared. I genuinely think we have an unhealthy societal obsession with the dramatic, romantic, last-ditch, everything-hangs-on-this-moment, sort of confrontations and monologues that make for good TELEVISION. Not so good real life. Why have relationships and communication deteriorated to the point where this is necessary?

I'm not totally against the sentiment in "Say." Once you've screwed up a relationship and need to apologize or have been untruthful in some way, sometimes it does come to the point where you have to risk something for things to be made right. If your brother has something against you and you are getting ready to make a sacrifice- go leave your sacrifice and make amends with your brother.

But there is still something about this song that feels emotionally manipulative. Actually maybe I just resent that John Mayer feels emotionally manipulative. He is a classic example of why I usually steer clear of reading interviews with musicians/actors of a certain celebrity: I always end up disliking them. Or worse, sometimes they come off as someone cool who you might have a good conversation with, drink a few beers on the swing and really connect. Then you have this good feeling toward them and then the next interview you read you're like, ONLY A JERK WOULD SAY THAT, YOU ARE SUCH A JERK! Is consistency too much to ask?

Or perhaps that's the whole crux of any kind of artist: the first person you portray in your music isn't necessarily "you." Even the "I" of one's own work isn't necessarily "me." It's who I choose to be, it's what I choose to portray, and most of us prefer to portray ourselves with our best foot forward. Maybe that's why I like really confessional songwriters, because it resonates as more authentic or something.

While I'm in the vein of pop music of a confessional nature, maybe the aforementioned is why I like Kelly Clarkson. As a group of my friends used to tell each other with mock-serious, knowing looks, "Kelly understands." This song DEFINITELY qualifies as emotionally manipulative, but DAMN, if you're going to manipulate me the dizzying changes of keys and octaves HAS to be the way to do it.

I think these songs have some dialogue together. Listen to both of them- am I the only one who thinks there are threads woven between the subjects?

1 comment:

morganleigh said...

interesting juxtaposition, except I don't think John is singing about romantic relationships so much as getting closure, but obviously authorial intent and audience reception are very different, and ultimately, the way art is received can not be dictated by the artist.

also, I loveth the youtubeage.