Lesson learnt: Sometimes losing everything is the best thing that can happen to you.
[you can’t help someone recover after what you did]
This song has one of the best stories in pop. Once upon a time, there was a Britpop band called Suede, headed up by too fops with raven mops, Bernard Butler and Brett Anderson. Together, they wrote one of the 90’s most killer singles (Animal Nitrate) and one the most defining and forward-looking albums of the era (Suede). And then, while recording the follow-up, they fell out. Big time. Bernard left the studio to get married. When he came back, his things were on the doorstep and the doors were locked. Suede went on to limp through a couple of albums so apocalyptically mediocre I can’t remember any of the titles (although naturally they were spectacularly commercially successful) and Bernard? Well, Bernard wrote the greatest FUCK YOU song of all time.
That riff? That riff is the sound of a man mentally kicking his best mate in the nads while he lies, writhing on the ground. It was exactly what I needed to hear when I was sprawled in a field with a radio, a bottle of Martini, a bag of frozen peas, and a broken heart.
So you wanna know me now, how I’ve been?
You can't help someone recover
After what you did.
If you’ve never been admitted to the cardiac fracture unit, let me tell you, those lines right there in David McAlmont’s egregiously glorious Motown voice are a life raft to anyone drowning in melodrama and misery. He gets it. David and Bernard get it. Knowing that I imminently had to see the person who had wrenched my heart out of my chest and stamped upon it until it looked like chewing gum that had spent a decade on the pavement, I staggered into town, and I had to go to 14 different record shops to find it, but I bought the record, took it home, and played it to death.
So tell me, am I looking better?
Have you forgot
Whatever it was that you couldn't stand about me?
Because yes, I do feel better.
Yes I do, I feel alright.
I feel well enough to tell you what you can do with what you’ve got to offer.
What makes this record brilliant is that it's not just about running into an ex in the supermarket and making awkward small talk – it’s about seeing someone who dicked you over in the street and having to have your mother over even though you hate each other. It's about people, and dealing with them. In amongst all that musical theatricality – the way this record swoops like Bacharach on PCP freaking slays me – is the simple truth that things hurt, and the salient advice to build a wall of fineness around yourself, and if the person who inflicted the hurt tries to peer over the top to see how you’re doing to let themselves off the hook, you tell them to fuck right off.
On and on and on and on and on and on and has no-one said, “Stay away, stay away.”
To me, there’s no certainty in that better. It’s a defiant belief Bernard wrenched out of his soul, that if he played hard enough and made those violins in the background soar high enough, he would be better. Feel better. Do better. Be a better artist. Be better than the person who broke his heart.
Powered by the same belief and not a small amount of anger, I didn’t do anything nearly as worthy or lasting as this record: I went to the pub, got trashed on alcopops, and – much to the amusement of my friends – got off with a guy from school I’d always hated. But once the embarrassment and the two-day hangover wore off? Yes, I did feel better. That's what this record is: a testament to the fact that whether it's a person or a thing or life in general that breaks your heart, you always be better eventually - because of it, in spite of it, and in flagrant, wilful defiance of it.
Give me your list of awesome songs that helped you over your heartache by making you want to kick people in the nads... even if they weren't in posession of any nads. Go!
and a quick apology that I have comments to reply to all over the place, but this week has been mostly coding the index/master post, trouble-shooting, and answering questions. I will get to them ♥.
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