tremble clef

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Weepies, "Gotta Have You" (2005)

One way to explain why this song is so affecting is to simply point to some of its objective qualities: it's a song about lost love. It's an acoustic track with a country air to it, thereby alluding to a genre that does heartbreak especially well. It's beautifully sung by Deb Talan, shifting between a voice filled with raw, gruff hurt (on the first verse) and one that's more angelic, fragile, yet still tremendously weary (on the chorus and subsequent verses, which are also lightly and sadly suffused with Steve Tannen's harmonies).

But to fully get why "Gotta Have You" is so moving -- why, to put things in context, I played it about ten times in a row when I first laid my hands on it -- we have to understand how the song anticipates a particular kind of comfort, and then negates it. The song doesn't explicitly set a scene. But with its twangy air, it positions itself as a song that you listen to at a dive bar, as you stare into your cheap watered-down beer and watch your sorrows float to the top. But even as the song implies this scene, it also reminds you that such a setting will also do you absolutely no good. "No amount of coffee, no amount of crying/No amount of whiskey, no amount of wine/No, no, no, no, no, nothing else will do/I've gotta have you, I've gotta have you." In this quiet bar, you may -- have to -- drink all you want, but you already know it's going to offer you no solace. At every turn, only a hopelessness.


  • Well, that does explain the second verse ("I'm the new chicken clucking open hearts and ears"? WTF?) -- it's the monologue of drunken hopelessness.

    I've been listening to this at least two or three times a day since I first got it. It's an acoustic equivalent to your favorite genre of dance music, innit: a song of hopelessness that is nonetheless somewhat elating. (The lack of a strong beat makes GHY's power more mysterious, more worthy of worship. But it has something to do with the organ that lies subtly underneath the track and comes up to the front of the mix at 3:01.) The closest equivalent I can think of at the moment is Fleetwood Mac's "Beautiful Child."

    Nevertheless, I have an impish desire for the chorus to go "No amount of coffee, no amount of crime."

    By Anonymous esque, at 8:47 PM  

  • I did wonder if she sings "crime" instead of "crying." Also, I thought she was saying "fucking open hearts," heh.

    I think if the song is elating, the elation mostly comes from a clear-eyed -- or drunken-eyed, perhaps -- acceptance of the hopelessness. It's the elation of knowing for sure (that things are pretty much totally screwed), which, as common wisdom would have it, is better than not knowing at all. Lyrically, one song that this puts me in mind of is The 6ths' "Kissing Things," in which Ms Cracknell laments how nothing can take the place of her man.

    By Blogger Brittle, at 9:44 PM  

  • I've decided that the organ reminds me of the one in "Don't Dream It's Over."

    By Blogger Brittle, at 10:59 PM  

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