-=[ Torch Song Trilogy ]=-
And there’s a storm that’s raging through my frozen heart tonight…
-- John Waite
-- John Waite
[Editor's Note: Before I move on to the sex part, allow me to bring to your attention my articlefor the online magazine,Subversify. Every year this day I celebrate an anniversary of sorts. Over the years, I have received many personal messages in response to this story. To be sure, it is my story, but it is also your story as well. I post it in the hopes that it will reach those who need to hear it the most...]
It’s no secret to my lovers (and others) that I have a thing for wrist-slashing love songs. I’m really bad. I once wrote about La Lupe and her mastery of the bolero (ballad), and I still get goose bumps when she sings the opening lines to her La Gran Tirana (The Great Tryant):
Segun tu punto de vista/ Yo soy la ma/ Vampiresa de tu novella/ La Gran Tirana…
(According to your point of view/ I am the bad one/ Vampiress of your soap opera/ The Great Tyrant… )
As sung by La Lupe the words ooze with irony. Not an easy feat. Irony isn’t easy. Melodrama is easy (blah!). Anyone can do melodrama, but irony? Irony, you can’t fake irony. Irony comes from experience. No one else will ever sing that song like her. She owns it, it’s hers...
While I readily admit a fondness for cheesy love songs, I withhold my greatest admiration for those in-yo-face-grow-a-fuckin-backbone-muthufucka love songs. I love angry love songs! In fact, I like to call my poems full-frontal angry love poems.
For example, Tina Turner, one of my all-time favorite artists, sings a love song as if she were sucking a raw cock. This is not meant as a put down. What I mean is that Tina can milk every ounce of emotion out of a love song and somehow you come away from the performance not feeling all cheesy. Tina can do more with an arch of an eyebrow or sneer than most women can do with a whole song. Look at what she did to What’s love Got to Do with It? When she sings the title, you know you’re in the presence of someone who has felt deep, deeeeeeeeep pain and she’s slinging it out, no holds barred. She's almost saying:
Muthafucka, what’s love got to with it?!!
If recovering from a broken heart or a loss of a relationship is comparable to grieving, then denial and anger are its first stages. And many love songs (at least the good ones) speak from that painful, desolate, and barren landscape. One of my favorite love songs is John Waite’s (I Ain’t) Missing You. Waite sings this tough song of loss with a raw transparency reflective of the denial he’s feeling. It’s a denial he readily admits, but when he bangs out, I ain’t missing you… it’s more of a defiant cry borne of profound anguish. Left alone and abandoned by his lover, admittedly missing her and totally consumed by this loss, his only last ounce of dignity is to belt out…
I ain’t missing you at all!
And of course, we all know he’s missing her, she knows he’s missing her -- shit, he’s fuckin’ missing her with every fiber of his being, but he’s not going to admit it. I can lie to myself he sings defiantly. He’s not going to fall into the finality of admitting it.
Because he can… or can't
The song utilizes a heavy backbeat and there’s very little that’s tender in it and yet it manages to convey a raw emotion often missing from recent love songs. For example, the first line: Every time I think of you, I always catch my breath reads like major sappiness. But as sung by Waite with that hard backbeat, the line morphs into something deeper, something rawer. Like I said, anybody can do melodrama, crying and shit, but to convey genuinely that level of hurt, that level of awareness of feeling all alone and abandoned –- that’s art!
I love these lines:
In your world I have no meaning, though I’m trying hard to understand/ And it’s my heart that’s breaking down this long distance line tonight
I think those lines captures the profound hurt we all feel when love goes awry. There’s that essentially painful sense that you have no meaning in the other person’s life. It’s as if everything you shared, all the intimacies, all those tender moments, the vulnerability -- all of it -- meant nothing. There’s no meaning. That’s a hard load to bear, isn’t it?
In the end, I come away from Waite’s rendition feeling a sense of liberation from the obsessive grasp of compulsive love because though he’s still in denial, though he's raging, there’s a underlying strength to that denial. There is a sense that he knows she won’t come back and that his recovery process will be long and slow, but when he sings those words, I ain’t missing you at all, you sense that he will be OK in the end. It’s a howl, a challenge to the cold wind blowing through his crack in his heart.
In actuality, his cry of anguish is a plea to his lost love. Within that heartbreaking denial there’s expression of just how much he misses her, but his denial demands he doesn’t offer a full admission, because she’s gone and that’s it and the finality of it all is so painful.
You gotta love that shit! LOL