tremble clef

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Fountains Of Wayne, "Someone To Love" (2007)


Fountains Of Wayne's new single features two protagonists: Seth Shapiro, a lawyer, and photo editor Beth McKenzie. With its usual precision and detail, the band sketches these lives: Seth listens to Coldplay and devours books about organized crime, while Beth watches The King of Queens on Thursday nights (not the first-run version, presumably, which has never been on Thursdays, but syndicated episodes). As the song title suggests, despite their otherwise full lives, both need "someone to love," an idea the song expresses less as a bullying imperative, and more as a hope for them, and us all: "When it's late, and it's hot/And a date with The Late Show is all that you've got/Don't give out, don't give up/One of these nights you might find someone to love."

Is that hope fulfilled or dashed at the end of the song, when our two characters cross paths? "Seth Shapiro is trying in vain/To hail a taxi in the morning, pouring rain/Beth McKenzie sees one just up ahead/She cuts in front of him and leaves him for dead." The track screeches to a halt for a second, before kicking into the chorus one more time. It's hard to tell if the song is therefore a four-minute musical version of every Hollywood romantic comedy ever, or a critique of them. (A typical ambiguity for the band, and one reason why critics can never tell if the Fountains are "ironic" or not, truly sympathizing with or mocking their characters -- but also the reason why I love them.) On the surface, Beth's theft of the cab seems to mean that she misses a chance to meet a man the song has set up as her possible partner. But by cutting away when it does, the song doesn't foreclose the possibility that Seth...what? Spiritedly goes up to the cab, bangs on the window, forces his way into the taxi despite Beth's squeaky protestations, and the two reluctantly share a ride uptown, squabbling all the way, whereupon they realize they are made for each other?

6 Comments:

  • I think it's actually a critique of an entire genre in which shiksa girls are idealized as perfection incarnate, desirable to Jewish guys simply because they allegedly represent a path to acculturation to "Americanness."

    Still, I can't decide whether the claim of the song is that (a) loneliness is universal/American, or (b) shiksa girls are cab-robbing bitches deserving of only 1.5 verses, and therefore undesirable.

    By Anonymous esque, at 10:10 PM  

  • I don't even care about that cab. I was hoping for a new picture of "Downy"!

    By Blogger xolondon, at 12:58 AM  

  • She's in the picture if you look hard enough, XO. It's like "Where's Waldo?"

    I was thinking about the obvious Jewish boy/gentile girl pairing, esque, but put it down to the song being modeled after typical rom com conventions -- like, Seth and Beth are probably played by Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan or something, or maybe the whole thing is just an episode of Mad About You. I guess the one thing that strikes me as possibly odd, and thus revealing of FOW's ideology, is the fact that, in the song, the gender roles are arguably reversed: in most meet-cutes, it would be the guy who rudely cuts the girl off from the cab, and it would be the girl who "sassily" barges her way in and "impresses" the guy with her "moxie" or something.

    By Blogger Brittle, at 11:17 AM  

  • For sure, the guy will get in the cab. It's such a bouncy shiny song, it CANNNOT be otherwise. Less irony, more happy ending!!!
    And this is a great track - can compete with my favourite FoW (Sink to the bottom)

    By Blogger Arnault, at 11:30 AM  

  • It's the second best track on the new album, I think. I love "Strapped For Cash" even more, a hilarious tale of being on the run from loan sharks that's punctuated by happy happy blasts of horns.

    By Blogger Brittle, at 11:50 AM  

  • I just can't believe you know what day “The King of Queens” is on.

    By Blogger Daft Monk, at 5:54 PM  

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