See also GARBAGE in THE WORLD OF MARA MARIETTA

Distortion of Egon Schiele, The Lovers, 1913

Love in Fourteen Songs

A Spotify playlist. Fourteen songs about love; seven with lyrics by women, seven with lyrics by men. Pair them up, compare and contrast them. Exclude biography, argue only on the evidence of the text. Consider one song a response to the other, consider this an exploration of love. Here goes.

You can listen to the tracks in full with a registered Spotify account, which comes for free.

LAYLA—ERIC CLAPTON—DEREK AND THE DOMINOS | WHY DO YOU LOVE ME—SHIRLEY MANSON—GARBAGE

Passion devours. It is possessive, excessive, exclusive, unique. Out-of-time, out-of-the-world, it is ecstatic delirium, a waking dream.

‘Layla’ is a cry of passion, a man’s scream in the night as he woos a woman. ‘Why Do You Love Me’ is the passionate cry of a woman who doesn’t want love to disturb her unlovable-girl equilibrium. What do we get by juxtaposing them?

In ‘Layla’, the would-be lover is on [his] knees, begging, about to go insane, for the beloved, by not responding to him as he would like, has turned his whole world upside down. The singer’s voice is raw, but it is the guitars that swell the scream.

In ‘Why Do You Love Me’ the woman’s passionate refusal of her suitor’s love is a sign of her awareness of how disturbing her acceptance of it would be. Passionately, she refuses to enter into passion, to fall in love. She is tempted—You’ve still got the most beautiful face—but it just makes me sad most of the time. That her would-be lover may be sleeping with a friend of hers (vicarious consummation?) she doesn’t make much of. What she dwells on instead is her ugly-duckling, bad-girl persona: I am not as pretty as those girls in magazines… I’ve done ugly things, and I have made mistakes… I am rotten to my core… Now I’ve held back a wealth of shit, I think I’m gonna choke.

Whereas the would-be lover in Layla is desperate—desperation being the condition for descending into the blindness and self-renunciation of passion—the beloved in ‘Why Do You Love Me’ is bent on maintaining her equilibrium and refuses to be drawn into the dream. And yet, something in her wants to give up control, to let go, for why else would the suitor’s love be driving [her] crazy? The would-be lover, according to the beloved, is sick of all the rules (what rules?) and the beloved is sick of all [his] lies (what lies?). I’m not convinced. This strikes me as a rationalization of her fear of falling in love. She is standing in the shadows, she [doesn’t] feel good; something inside her, I sense, wants to let love in, but she fears the havoc it would wreck, the shattering of her equilibrium, and so to ward off love (when the rationalizations for rejecting it don’t suffice), she indulges in some obsessive-compulsive ritual she doesn’t care to specify, content to repeat I get back up and I do it again, I get back up and I do it again, I get back up and I do it again. Do what? That’s a fine mystery, and it takes us deeper into the woman’s depths, there where desire chooses a mask for the self to present to the other, there where the woman negotiates ambiguity. Her stance is not the ‘foolish pride’ of ‘Layla’ but self-protection.

Where the man in ‘Layla’ screams, in effect, ‘Why don’t you love me?’, the woman in ‘Why Do You Love Me’ screams the opposite: ‘Why do you love me?’. What I’m suggesting (as you already know if you’ve caught my drift) is that the two screams are not as opposite at they seem. When the woman sings Nothing ever came from nothing, she is reproaching herself for the words stuck in [her] throat, for not clearing out her ‘shit’ and risking love (the one implies the other). Indeed, while she revels in her identity as an outsider, she yearns for the ‘insiderhood’ that comes with loving and being loved. For the rebel, then, for the outsider, love poses a threat to identity. It’s hard, always being against; it’s hard, always being the other. Yet when the outsider is well in her rebel skin, it’s safer being a spy in the house of love than to come in from the cold.

Devouring passion, desperate desire; identity equilibrium, disruptive love: ‘Layla’ and ‘Why Do You Love Me’.

Layla

Eric Clapton—Derek and the Dominos

What’ll you do when you get lonely
But nobody’s waiting by your side?
You’ve been running and hiding much too long
You know it’s just your foolish pride

Layla
You’ve got me on my knees
Layla
I’m begging, darling, please
Layla
Darling, won’t you ease my worried mind?

I tried to give you consolation
When your old man had let you down
Like a fool, I fell in love with you
You turned my whole world upside down

Layla
You’ve got me on my knees
Layla
I’m begging, darling, please
Layla
Darling, won’t you ease my worried mind?

Let’s make the best of the situation
Before I finally go insane
Please don’t say we’ll never find a way
And tell me all my love’s in vain

Layla
You’ve got me on my knees
Layla
I’m begging, darling, please
Layla
Darling, won’t you ease my worried mind?

Why Do You Love Me

Shirley Manson—Garbage

I’m no Barbie doll
I’m not your baby girl
I’ve done ugly things
And I have made mistakes
And I am not as pretty as those girls in magazines
I am rotten to my core if they’re to be believed

So what if I’m no baby bird hanging upon your every word
Nothing ever smells of roses that rises out of mud

Why do you love me
Why do you love me
Why do you love me
It’s driving me crazy…

You’re not some little boy
Why you acting so surprised?
You’re sick of all the rules
Well I’m sick of all your lies
Now I’ve held back a wealth of shit
I think I’m gonna choke
I’m standing in the shadows
With the words stuck in my throat
Does it really come as a surprise
When I tell you I don’t feel good
That nothing ever came from nothing, man
Oh, man, ain’t that the truth

Why do you love me
Why do you love me
Why do you love me
It’s driving me crazy…

I get back up and I do it again…

I think you’re sleeping with a friend of mine
I have no proof
But I think that I’m right

You’ve still got the most beautiful face
It just makes me sad most of the time

I get back up and I do it again…

Why do you love me
Why do you love me
Why do you love me
It’s driving me crazy…

See also Henri Rousseau (for ‘You Look So Fine’) in ‘The World of Mara, Marietta’.

Egon Schiele, The Lovers, 1913

By Richard Jonathan | © Mara Marietta Culture Blog, 2017 | All rights reserved

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