tremble clef

Friday, June 15, 2007

Garbage, "Tell Me Where It Hurts (Orchestral Single Edit)" (2007)

I've always thought that the first three lines of "You Look So Fine" are, in many ways, the sharpest and most succinct encapsulation of the Garbage ethos. "You look so fine/I want to break your heart/And give you mine." Shirley wants to hurt you and love you at the same time. Indeed, she wants to hurt you the better to love you, even if loving you hurts her -- kills her, for what will she do without her own heart? -- in turn. (Not for nothing is there a fangirl video on YouTube of Buffy and Angel's tortured relationship set to the track.) Of course, to some extent this is simply a more accentuated version of an old archetype: Ms. Manson is the dominatrix who shows flashes of vulnerability, the vixen with the bruiseable heart of gold. But like all archetypes, it's one for a reason.

But the reverse is true as well. Because of Shirley's persona, even the most ostensibly loving of Garbage songs are invested with the threat of violence. On the new single, "Tell Me Where It Hurts," it's impossible for me not to hear the title, not just as a command, but one that may not be advantageous for us to answer. Tell me where it that she will know, more precisely, where our weakest spot is? So that she can rub salt -- or something even worse -- in that wound? Tell me where it hurts, and I can hurt you more. None of those possibilities are necessarily "in" the song itself (since the rest of the chorus continues, "To hell with everybody else/All I care about is you and that's the truth/They don't love me, I can tell/But you do, so they can go to hell." As I said, a loving song). But they float around its edges, lurking, waiting for you to let your guard down. When you do, there's no telling what -- break your heart, take your heart, give her heart -- she will do.


Post a Comment

<< Home