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There’s something about Sunday night
that really makes you want to kill yourself
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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Nobody Knows Me

And I like cream in my coffee
And I like to sleep late on Sunday
And nobody knows me like my baby
And I like eggs over easy
With flour tortillas
And nobody knows me like my baby

And nobody holds me
And nobody knows me
Nobody knows me like my baby

But it was a dream made to order
South of the border
And nobody knows me like my baby
And she cried man how could you do it
And I swore that there weren't nothing to it
But nobody knows me like my baby

And nobody holds me
And nobody knows me
Nobody knows me like my baby

And I like cream in my coffee
And I hate to be alone on Sunday
And nobody knows me like my baby


When I was 17, I met my boyfriend at a church youth rally. He was tall, lanky, with a shock of dark hair hanging in his eyes and a deep scar on his cheek. He spoke French to me and tucked me into his beat-up motorcycle jacket, and when I found out how embarrassingly too young for me he was, it was too late. I was already smitten.

We lived two hours from each other, so our relationship was a torrid, letter-writing affair that lasted for a month or two. I invited him to my senior prom, and he was excited about wearing a thrift-store suit with giant safety pins instead of cuff links. I was a grunge girl; I should have rejoiced in my hip, hot boyfriend, but instead I was mortified by the idea, and soon we broke up.

The one thing I got out of the relationship was this Lyle Lovett song. I bet somewhere at my parents' house, in my old bedroom, I could still find the mix tape he made me, stuck between yearbooks and old prom pictures. There was no play list; the song came on between folky alternative songs, and in the context of those, I assumed it was a folk or acoustic rock song.

Four or five years later, I was getting to know my classmates during my stint in a creative writing program in Ireland. Someone brought a Lyle Lovett CD and put it on the stereo. His big-band country sound gave no indication that the album contained this song. In my vodka and orange juice-induced daze (a typical state that summer), I may have started crying at the song. It reminded me of my past, and a song long forgotten.

So then I knew who performed it. Yet I never made any attempt to own the CD. I still don't. I have tracked down a copy once or twice to put on mix CDs, but it's not a song I want to own. It's one I want to be surprised with in unexpected moments.

Like at roadhouses in the middle of Iowa, during road trips with Tim, when we knew nothing of our future, only that we loved each other fiercely. He put a few coins in the old jukebox, and the song came on. We sat in the sticky bar booth, looking at each other, tears prickling our eyes as we listened together, and part of our future together fell into place.

On that note I'd like to end, but I have to add, it wasn't until Tim that I actually listened to the lyrics in the second verse. I was so smitten with the beautiful melody, Lyle's lonesome voice, and the beauty of the idea of knowing someone so well that I didn't realize the song was actually about infidelity. I wondered why I have always been so drawn to songs about pain and heartbreak. (Another noncontender and gorgeous song completely unfit for our wedding was Zepplin's "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You." Rats.)

But I'm reminded tonight of The Princess Bride, and a line my friends and I would recite to the screen every time we watched it: "Life is pain, highness!" (Prince Humperdink--I think) and I think part of the beauty of heartbreaking songs is the music putting eloquent words to what we know of our own lives.

4 Comments:

Blogger ZigKvetch said...

LE, your blog entries read like poetry. I'm going to be thinking about pain in beauty all afternoon.

It's funny, the classical music I love the best is always the stuff based on a painful theme (painful in sound or event). I once brought a recording of the second movement of Beethoven's Seventh Symphony to a creative writing class to explain beauty/pain in art.

8:34 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

This is beautiful, and so true. So many wonderful songs I heard this year have made me cry from heartbreak, even when all they do is spur good memories.

9:38 AM  
Blogger cilee said...

What a beautiful entry. Music is so powerful and to hear how one song has played into your life is beautiful.

Read the lyrics from Trisha Yearwood's "The Song Remembers When".

2:18 AM  
Anonymous g said...

it was Wesley who said it. "Life IS pain, highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something."

beautiful entry, by the way. cheers!

7:15 PM  

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