Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Don't Let Him Go

I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to the entire Journey family. I mocked—not without reason—the silly, lazy lyrics to "Any Way You Want It." And then I saw, for the first time, the lyrics to REO Speedwagon's "Don't Let Him Go."

There's a concept in storytelling called a Mary Sue:
A Mary Sue is an original character in fan fiction, usually but not always female, who for one reason or another is deemed undesirable by fan critics. A character may be judged Mary Sue if she is competent in too many areas, is physically attractive, and/or is viewed as admirable by other sympathetic characters. 
It originated in fan-fic but it's a pretty well-known term these days in wider literary circles. A character is often unjustly called a Mary Sue if the critic doesn't like the (female) author and wants to score some easy points by claiming the author has simply inserted an idealized version of herself into the story.

I've never encountered a Mary Sue in pop music, that I can recall, but holy shit is that what this song is all about.

I mean:
So you figure that you've got him all figured out
He's a sweet talkin' stud
Who can melt a girl's heart with his pout
He's the kind of lover that the ladies dream about
Oh, yes he is
He's got plenty of cash
He's got plenty of friends
He drives women wild
Then he drives off in a Mercedes-Benz
He's got a long wick with a flame at both ends [editor's note: insert eye-rolling emoji here]
He's hot
But don't let him go
Just give him a chance to grow
Take it easy, take it slow
And don't let him go
Don't let him go 
He makes you so angry
He makes you so sore [editor's note: and another here]
The wait may be worth it
But how can you wait any more?
When you're wonderin what you're waitin' for 
Baby I don't know
But don't let him go
Just give him a chance to grow
Take it easy, take it slow
And don't let him go
Don't let him go 
As I've mentioned many times, I don't care all that much about lyrics; generally speaking, for me they're a tray built to hold the vocal melody. If they're especially great, they can elevate a good song to great and a great song to brilliant. And it's only occasionally that they're so bad they can sink an otherwise fine song—as the great Peter Gabriel once said:
"There have been many great songs which have had really appalling lyrics, but there have been no great songs which have had appalling music." 
Well, this song wasn't going to be great no matter what. The band plays the Bo Diddley-inspired beat well enough, the dude with the pink silk shirt improbably rips off a tasty solo on his gorgeous Les Paul, the keyboardist does a creditable Rick Wakeman impression—it's all fine bar band fare. But the lyrics...oh my god, the lyrics are just so damn bad.

I mean, on the most basic level, they simply make absolutely no sense: this guy is that irresistible, he's that magnetic a panty-dropper, despite sounding like a raging douchenozzle. To an objective listener, he's clearly someone who should be treated with utter disdain by anyone with half a brain...and yet, the singer implores, if you just give him a chance, he'll...what? Presumably, faith and patience will be rewarded, but the song (to its minor credit) doesn't really promise any such thing. No it simply admonishes her (presumably) to give him all the time he could possibly need, with the implication being that he'll turn out to be a decent guy in the end. I mean, hey, he's got money, he's got the Mercedes Bends (unh), and he's got a lot of pretty pretty girls that he calls friends. He's hung like a candle—is that a saying?—and, most important, he's pouty.

Okay, listen, I know the end of the 70s/beginning of the 80s was a long time ago, but really? Did girls really think a guy pouting was a good look? I'm thinkin' not so much. That reads to me like a guy who likes to pout and really wishes girls found it attractive and baffled and angry that none of them do.

Speaking of, this guy pisses the listener off, and the listerner's already waited long enough and doesn't even know what s/he's waiting for...and yet, keep on waiting. 'cuz.

Why? Why? Why would you ever give this assclown the time of day, much less another chance?

I don't even know what to say. Other than that Les Paul really is gorgeous. Now for that I'd wait a lifetime. (And have so far.)

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