Monday, September 20, 2010

You Don't Know Where Your Interest Lies

This 1967 song was released as a flipside to a (slight) remake of "Fakin' It."

The theme of the song is common enough: an entreaty to a potential lover. However, the speaker does not take the usual tacks of begging, promising, flattering, etc.

No, this person wants to argue and insult her into being his girlfriend. His premise? It is in her own best "interest," and she seems ignorant of that, to her own detriment.

The speaker posits himself as the more intelligent of the pair: "You don't know that you love me... What you think isn't always true... You don't begin to comprehend." He knows what is best for her, and it is him.

She doesn't appreciate his superiority, either, "You may think you're above me... You should know that I'm womanly wise... Don't try to debate me."

Another thing she is unaware of is that they are more than friends, or are soon to be. Our speaker is not going to let the fact of their friendship prevent him from trying to increase their status a notch, and is willing to risk losing her as a friend to gain her as a girlfriend.

A bold ploy, and a necessary one in many cases. But first, he says something cruel: "You're just a game that I like to play." What, then, is the point of risking the friendship? Not to gain a lover, but to win a "game"?

He says that she dare not "try to manipulate" him, but what would he like to do to her if not the exact same thing?

Musically, the song mimics many of the British Invasion songs of the time; played instrumentally (and, minus the bent blues notes), it might be mistaken for an early Police track, with its somewhat-reggae beat.

At this point, however, the song turns into an electric-piano lounge number for a few measures. Someone-- either a friend or a voice from his subconscious-- tells the speaker that his tactics will fail: "Obviously, you're going to blow it."

This wiser voice takes the idea of "you don't know" and turns it back on the speaker. His oncoming failure may be obvious to this detached observer, but "you [i.e., the speaker] don't know it."

So here is the speaker, bragging about his intellect and what his target doesn't "know," when it's obvious to everyone else that this person doesn't "know," ahem, squat about relationships or how to start them.

The beat picks back up, and our dogged if maladroit speaker continues his bluster unabated. Obviously, he is going to blow it.

For her part, she probably is well aware that her interest lies elsewhere.

Next Track: A Church Is Burning


  1. I found your site after googling the title of this song. Very interesting concept and good analysis, IMO.

    From a musical standpoint, this is one of S&G's lost treasures. I love the Byrd-like jangly opening guitar riff, the ska rhythm (one of the few white artists of the '60s to incorporate ska, as far as I know), the weird jazzy bridge that sounds like it wouldn't be out of place on a Doors song (and seems to point to the bossa nova of "So Long Frank Lloyd Wright" on BOTW), then the funky little drum fill that introduces the last verse (which I think would make a great sample for a hip-hop group).

    Anyway, a perfect little pop song with a lot going on in it. Too bad S&G couldn't have found a spot for it on the original Bookends, but happy that it has since been released on CD.

  2. Mark--
    Thanks for the comment and the encourangement. As far as the arrangement, it also has a little bit of the rough and experimental aspects of British Invasion material, and I think they might have chosen its flipside, "Fakin' It," to fill that "slot" on "Bookends."