[Note: according to liner notes in a CD I came into possession of after having posted this, the writer is "unknown."]
I admit I expected less from this song. It seemed like it might be another whiny "woe-is-me" number about a man suffering at the "cruelty" of a woman who doesn't love him back. And now, she's-- what, seeing guys she does like? And he's taking it personally...
Nope. This song is about a man suffering the at the cruelty of a woman who is actually being actively cruel.
At least he has not internalized her meanness and blamed himself. He even tries to analyze her behavior.
It starts with her breaking it off, and breaking his heart. Still, he is willing to move on and "forget." All healthy behavior on his part-- you mourn, then you move on.
But she is not content to leave it at that. She actively torments him: "Last night just for a joke/ You called to say hello... You call just to tease me/ And tell me about the other guys you see."
As former US First Lady Nancy Reagan said, there is a name for people like this, and it rhymes with "witch." There is really something wrong with someone who adds insult to injury, rubs salt in wounds they have inflicted... and keeps kicking the person they have already, as we used to say, kicked to the curb.
She knows this hurts him-- "You knew that every word was breaking my poor heart"-- and he starts to realize that this is her motivation: "Does it make you feel good to know that I'm feeling blue?"
The German word for this is "schadenfreude," happiness at someone else's pain. In this case, it's coupled with sadism, happiness from inflicting that pain.
Through his tears, our sensitive man keeps working on understanding her logic, warped as it is: "I know you don't love me/ Why do you want me to keep loving you?"
Then it dawns on him that the answer is in the question: "Your pride's too strong to let me go." By continuing to torment him, she continues to revel in her strength, and her power over him.
He tries to appeal to her compassion, although he already knows she has none: "It's all a game to you/
But I'm the one who cries." And so the song ends as it began, with our victim still in tears.
Verbal and emotional abuse, stalking, and other such bullying has since migrated from the telephone to the worldwide party line that is the Internet.
And men do suffer such abuse, even physical abuse, at the hands of women. A recent video showed two actors demonstrating this by arguing in a London park (search on YouTube for the channel "POZAPAPO"). First, the man shoves the woman. Instantly, women accost him and protected her. In the second scenario, she shoves him into the same fence. Women watched... and some even laughed. (The men in the park avoided involvement in both cases.)
Then the video ends with this statistic: "40% of domestic violence is suffered by men."
Far from being a whiny song about a man who imagines that a woman's disinterest is a personal slight, this is actually a very brave song about the difficulties of dealing with abuse. How do you defend yourself without coming across as the bully? How do you stop someone from calling night after night? What do you do with people who never hurt you "enough"?
Decades after this song was written, society continues to struggle with these issues.
Next Song: Funny Little Girl