Monday, September 23, 2013

I Wish I Weren't in Love

This one recalls 1959's "A Teenager in Love," both in style and sentiment, with a touch of Everly Brothers country-pop thrown in... plus a dash of flamenco in the bridge. It really presages the kind of within-one-song genre-switching that became Simon's trademark.

The opening lines could not be more straightforward: "I've got a problem/ The girl I love doesn't love me at all." Yes, another unrequited-love song.

The speaker, like another song says, got it bad, and that ain't good: "I can't do my homework/ I write her name on my notebook all night." It should be noted that these are very long lines, metrically, for a pop song.

"I'm so unhappy/ Guess I am the loneliest boy in this world," he continues, and who hasn't been there? "I wish I weren't in love," he concludes.

Now, is she stringing him along? Hardly. His love object is crystal clear in her lack of interest: "In fact, she won't even answer my call." Perhaps she finds a teenager who starts sentences with "in fact" somewhat... un-hip?

Rather than simply forget her, our hero paints himself as the victim: "The way she treats me, it just isn't right... How can I make her stop hurting me?" When, in fact, she is not hurting him at all. She is not doing anything to him! Yes, this is a problem for him... but it's not, objectively speaking, her fault.

Again, if she were being ambiguous, his complaint would have merit. But she is not. She is as plain in her disregard for him as a stone wall. Perhaps he feels that his ardor is so great it at least deserves her saying outright that he should, ahem, bug off, or stop calling, at least. She refuses to even acknowledge his existence with a verbal rejection.

The relationship, to the degree that it exists at all, is only in his mind. What this young man needs is for his friends to point out that his efforts and affections are wasted here-- and that he should, until they find a more receptive recipient, maybe do his homework.

If he gets good enough grades, he might get into college... where he might, in fact, meet a co-ed who will answer the phone for a guy who starts sentences with "in fact."

Next Song: Motorcycle

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