Thursday, April 17, 2008

Songs I Prolly Misinterpreted #1: Fast Way

The idea behind "Songs I Prolly Misinterpreted" is to offer up songs I love where I've ascribed very personal and significant meaning to the song, even if said interpretation is totally and completely off the mark. My aim with SIPM is to hopefully remind you the reader of the true power of music to usurp all logic and clear thought and dig into our deeper selves.

Or, if not that, then to give you a chuckle.

Fast Way - Letters to Cleo (mp3)

Actual Meaning of Song: A break-up song? Maybe?
My Interpretation, In Summary: Let's f*#k and get on with our lives already.

Why you gotta sit in my easy chair?
What makes you think that I would care?
When I say to you - "What are you gonna do?"

The narrator in this story is a young woman with a history of giving up the pootie with minimal resistance. She might not necessarily sleep with a guy on the first date, but it's definitely happened. And if she hasn't done it by the third date, there ain't gonna be a fourth, 'cuz she clearly doesn't like you. Unfortunately, this lifestyle choice has left her lonely and fearing that love is merely an illusion used to sell Hallmark cards.

She's got a guy over at her place, and she's asking this guy -- a guy she thinks is hot as hell -- why does he have to sit in her "easy chair." The easy chair is a metaphor for her own sluttiness. She's the easy chair. She's actually asking herself the vital internal question, "Why am I going to sleep with this guy so quickly when I actually like him and want him to hang around for a while?" But then she counters that with, "Why should I care? He means nothing to me." This is a standard defense mechanism for someone jaded on relationships.

To him, she directly delivers the line "What are you gonna do?" As in, "Poop or get off the pot, Cowboy!" As in, "Hey Goose, you big stud! Take me to bed or lose me forever!" ("Show me the way home, honey!")

So I got you to at least say please,
that's how I know that you're on your knees.
But I'm thinking too: What am I gonna do?

Now it's the next day. He's gone. She's satisfied that she at least stretched out the flirtation and foreplay long enough to have him begging. And apparently he's quite gifted at giving oral pleasure (you don't think he's on his knees to propose, do ya?).

But now she realizes she's falling for him, that he's already got a hold on her. Crap! What'm I gonna do? Why'd I give up the pootie so damn fast?!?

To not take the fast way
it evens out every time.

She soothes herself a little with this chorus. In the end, why does it matter whether two people f*#k right away or dance around the mulberry bush for a six months before f*#king? Either way, the final result is two people f*#king, right?

This is the classic "You take the high road, I'll take the low road" defense that people who sleep with others shortly after meeting them resort to when realizing they don't really like where their low road leads. It's human nature to, when realizing that your own road is full of potholes, remind yourself that the other roads are in just as much disrepair. So she takes comfort thinking of all those couples who waited and waited to f*#k yet still eventually parted ways. Damned if ya f*#k, damned if ya don't.

God, how I love a boy on the go
and what you've got I just have to know.
'Cause what else is there to say?
"It's such a sunny day"??

This guy, he's proving difficult to get hold of. Very busy. Probably brushing her off. But she's obsessing over him, and she needs to know if there's any chance for something deeper between them. Unfortunately, she's not really sure where or how to start the conversation. This is often tough for a young couple that f*#ked on the first night. They know one another intimately, yet know almost nothing about the each other's life or interests. So she's thinking, is all I can use as a starting point a crappy line like "How's the weather"??

So I got you to at least say please
that's how I know that you're on you knees.
But I'm thinking too: Baby, are we through?

But... But... she had him begging, dammit! She played him quickly, but intensely, and he felt it, too. He just had to. He went down on her, fer Chrissakes! ... But then, why isn't the bastard playing along? Why won't he call me? Is this damn thing over before it started?

To not take the fast way
it evens out every time.

Apparently, yes, it's already over. A full-fledged one-night stand. And if the narrator was being honest with herself -- which she's trying to be in this song -- this is precisely the way she likes it. Better to suffer a very superficial heartbreak over a guy she might have fallen for if the relationship had dragged out over months or years, if she'd held off on sleeping with him. Better that the ecstasy was quick and the heartbreak was quicker.

And with that conclusion firmly in her head, she's off to start the cycle off again, find a man to sleep with, obsess over briefly, and move on before he causes her any real pain. Sure, she loses out on the deeper emotions, but most of those deeper emotions are just awful and painful and miserable. You take the good with the bad. She'll take the fast way.

WHY IT'S PERSONAL: This was one of my Angry Songs in college. Twice I went out with girls that I fell for quickly but who weren't particularly interested in keeping me around. Many other times -- and even worse -- I fell for females who preferred having me as the friend on whose shoulder they would cry after sleeping with other guys on their first date. This song was soothing because it let me believe that, one day, I might be so lucky to find a girl who just wanted to screw my brains out. Yes, hope is a powerful and necessary thing.

This song was one of five on the second side of my favorite college mixtape. I played these five songs repeatedly whenever I needed to wallow in the muck of self-pity. (The other four songs were, in order, "King of Pain" by The Police, "Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses?" by U2, "Rocket Man" remade by Kate Bush, and "Broken Arrow" by Robbie Robertson.)

(If you want the cinematic version of this song, watch Terry Gilliam's "The Fisher King." In it, as Robin Williams is walking the mousy Amanda Plummer back to her apartment, she explains what is going to happen after she invites him up to "have coffee," but after the sex, none of it sounds too great. And he laments, "We just met, made love and broke up all in the space of 30 seconds and I don't remember having the first kiss, which I think is the best part.")

"Fast Way" is from Letters to Cleo's second album,
Wholesale Meats & Fish. The band had three albums, but Kay Hanley went on to do the soundtrack for "Josie & The Pussycats" as well as several other solo projects, including the overlooked power pop gem "Cherry Marmalade."

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