Tuesday, June 16, 2015

30 Day Song Challenge, Day 16: A Song You Used To Love But Now Hate

Falling out of love with something (or someplace, or someone) can be awkward to experience, even more awkward to explain.  Our affections are mercurial, often unpredictably so, and there isn't always a neat and clean account to be given for why you stopped to stare amorously into one of life's store-windows only to then, well, just move on.  The road from OMG to meh is a winding, wandering and well-traveled one, but woefully lacking in directional markers.

Not so with the road from love to hate.  To generate actual dislike from like requires some extra activating element-- a wrongdoing, a harm, a perjury or the introduction of some other perspective-refracting agent-- such that the lover is given cause to look on the formerly-beloved as alien, strange and therefore no longer deserving of his or her amorous affection.  I loved you, I thought I knew you, but I was wrong about you.  When this happens between two people, it's a terribly unpleasant experience for both sides. But, then again, anything that generates hatred between people is a terrible experience.

Mercifully, we're not talking about people today.

My pick for today is the Indigo Girls' "Closer to Fine," a song that (like the Indigo Girls themselves) was very dear to me during some of the most significant developmental years of my youth.  To say that I hate it now might be overselling the case a bit, but I'm not just "meh" about it. I very definitely strongly dislike it now.  Here it is:

It's actually pretty easy for me to explain the agents of my affective reversal with regard to this song. The primary and most damaging is (1) I play guitar, I like girls, and so I've been asked to play this song soooo many times over the years that I honestly feel like I've been bludgeoned to death with it. Now,  whenever I crack open a guitar case, I tend to begrudgingly play it first, just to get it over and done with, but when I do that it makes me really resent guitars and women singer-songwriters and folk music and sunshine and kittens and everything good in this world that humans just can't help themselves but to f*ck up. (2) When I first fell in love with this song (and the Indigo Girls), I was in my 20s, I was young woman in Philosophy, and it gave voice to a sort of outsider-on-the-inside narrative that felt empowering, if not also potentially liberating. Now, it just sounds whiny and trite to me. (3) Back when I loved this song, I loved its valorization of aiming to be "closer to fine," rather than right or good, because I hadn't yet figured out what "right" and "good" meant for me and I was struggling quite a bit to satisfy what they meant to those around me... because 20s. Now, that aim just sounds like a door prize for lazy relativists or people in their 20s, which often amounts to one and the same thing.  Finally, (4) after more than two decades with this song, I find that there are few things more painful to my ears that hearing other people sing along to it, especially when they  "authentically" wail that closer I am to fiii-IIIIIII-iiii-nnne-yeah part at the end of this song.  Puh-lease, make it stop.

It's not fine anymore. Not even close to it.

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