Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Moral Ambiguity of Music

I’m sort of in a moral quandary.

See, I’ve sort of met someone. And she sort of has a boyfriend. And by “sort of “ I mean she’s in a 100% committed relationship.

Still we sort of click, which has me tempted to try to woo her. I mean if their relationship is built to last, my attempts at interfering shouldn’t mean anything, right? On the other hand, while I’ve never cheated on any girlfriend, I’ve definitely been the “other guy” and broken up my fair share of relationship. In fact I’ve spent the last few years working on mending my relationship karma.

So I’m torn. And as with any dilemma in my life, I turn to music for guidance.

Unfortunately I've found that songs dealing with the topic of cheating either make it sound like the worst thing imaginable or completely awesome.

Monica – So Gone
I figured I’d start with a con, because I’m genuinely a nice guy and I want to do the right thing. First off, this song has an awesome beat. The sample’s got those real vinyl hiss and pops that just make it feel warm. But I digress.
This song speaks to the hurt of the cheated on. The feeling of competition and the desire to tolerate an unacceptable proposition. I’d hate to put someone in that position. Con.

R. Kelly – Down Low
This song, released at the peak of R. Kelly’s musical relevance, is all about succumbing to temptation and lulling yourself into believing that as long as no one knows no one’ll get hurt. I feel like I’m 100% ok with that. Pro. (Plus this version doesn’t have the final sting of judgment like the remix does.)

The White Stripes – Jolene
Yeah, I could go with the original, but I really dig this cover. This one is pretty awesome, because it’s really sort of an ego boost. “Jolene” is such an amazing specimen that the wronged is literally pleading for sympathy. I’d love to believe that was the case, but it’s probably not. Still it’s a Con.

TLC – Creep
You’ve got to love a song that justifies cheating. This song makes cheating seem like a normal part of a healthy relationship. Doesn’t everybody cheat? What’s the big deal? As long as she’s still got feelings for her guy, it’s completely acceptable to get attention and affection from someone else. Pro.

Bill Withers – Who is He and What is He to You?
I’m a fan of awkward situations, but I’m not a fan of putting someone in an awkward situation. I also don’t really want to have too much interaction with the person I’m intent on wronging, because, y’know I’ve got a modicum of conscience. And really, doesn’t Bill Withers just sound like the voice of conscience? Con.

Billy Paul – Me and Mrs. Jones
A nice counter balance to Bill Withers’ disappointing gaze is this awesomely smooth track. What’s the big deal about this “thing” that’s going on anyway? It’s just a thing. As long as everyone is cautious about everything, expectations included, it seems like a completely manageable situation. Pro.

Marvin Gaye – I Heard It Through the Grapevine
“The Grapevine.” What an antiquated notion. I mean, I’m openly writing about this on the internet. Anyway, the perspective of the jilted is important. The sickening feeling of being the last to know is never fun and that’s something to consider. Con

Amy Winehouse – You Know I’m No Good
This one is all about knowing what you’re getting into and getting over things. Amy needs to explore and he’s got to accept that. You can’t expect someone to change and you sort of know whom you’re dealing with. And as long as you enter with your eyes open you can’t get caught off guard. Pro.

The Temptation – I Wish It Would Rain
I would never want to someone to feel like this. David Ruffin sounds like someone just kicked his dog. Or stole his girl. This poor guy just wants to cry, that’s how low he feels. I’d feel really bad I caused someone to feel this way. Con.

The Roots – Break U Off
I’m torn on this one. The original version is a bit more grimy than the album version, but I supposed the message is the same in both; you snooze you lose. If you’re distracted and you don’t appreciate what you’ve got, you just might lose it. And these types of relationships are generally very passionate, in a good way. Pro.

Mary J, Blige – Not Gon’ Cry
Seriously, am I that heartless? The only thing worse than someone so hurt they want to cry is someone to hurt that they refuse to cry. And not only is this dude totally devoted to his girl, but they’ve actually got an anniversary looming. I’m horrible for even considering this. Con.

Jimi Hendrix – Hey Joe
Um, firearms? Ultimate Con.

Wow, you’d think that after writing this I’d have decided what I was going to do, but you’d be wrong. The only thing this exercise has taught me is that there are some really awesome songs about cheating.

1 comment:

  1. Glad to see y'all back at it on the blog.

    As for your dilemma I'd fall back from her but that's just me.



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