Monday, April 24, 2023

This Year: 1986

"This Year" is a series of weekly posts, each about one song from one year of my life. See the introduction for more.

Every couple has "our song." Sometimes more than one, sometimes only for a season or a moment. But if you're together for at least a little while, something connects you two.

In 1986, I was a seventeen-year-old in the throes of my first relationship - spoiler! it all worked out just fine, and I'm married to her today - and our song was by Elvis Costello.

In the traditional understated and subtle way of teenagers, that song was I Want You, an ode to obsession and physical desire.

Did we notice that the singer was way too obsessive, shading into "I'll kill one of us if you leave me" territory? Did I, in particular, realize that this is a song set after the end of a relationship, when the object has moved on to another man, and the singer is just entirely unwilling to accept or live with that?

No, sir, we did not. The obsessiveness may have been a plus, frankly, for two teenagers, but we also had the teenager's amazing ability to ignore the things we wanted to ignore.

For us, then, it was a love song. A song of the strongest possible, most overwhelming, perfect love. not incorrect. (It may be wrong, but it's not incorrect.)

I Want You doesn't mean the same thing to me now it does then, but there's still that echo, that memory of feeling so intensely and purely. Of that moment when you can only say "I Want You." Of wanting nothing else, nothing more.

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