Saturday, 21 July 2012

Ronan Keating

by Ashley Lister

Once again, I was wanting to experiment with form. This piece came about from the idea of addressing ambiguous song lyrics. Ed Byrne had some legendary fun at the expense of Alanis Morissette's Ironic in his act. Timothy McSweeney also did some cool stuff in response to Axl Rose's Sweet Child O' Mine.

One song I've always thought sends out mixed messages is Ronan Keating's You Say it Best. Consequently I spent an hour or so addressing the chorus in this fashion.

The smile on your face
Lets me know
That you need me

As opposed to the smile on which other part of her anatomy, Mr Keating? The smile on her bum? The smile on her armpit? Try not to over explain these things. Your listeners are not idiots. Well, not all of them are idiots.

There's a truth
In your eyes
Saying you'll never leave me

A truth in someone’s eyes? Truth is an abstract concept. It’s unlikely someone could have an abstract concept in their eyes. Most likely it’s just gowl. If it’s that syrupy, dirty yellow stuff that’s there after someone’s been asleep, or when they have an eye infection, or a heavy cold, then it’s definitely gowl. Perhaps these secretions are not a fitting subject for a love song?

The touch of your hand says
You'll catch me
Whenever I fall

Are you likely to fall? I appreciate there is a horrible stereotype of Irishmen being perpetually inebriated and prone to falling over. I think this line plays on that stereotype and does not do anything to suggest Irishmen can be perceived as sober upstanding members of the community. Revision is needed here if you want yourself and your fellow countrymen to to move away from the image of being drunken bogtrotters.

You say it best
When you say
Nothing at all

I really don’t like this line. You’re telling her to shut up, aren’t you? I’m surprised some feminist hasn’t picked up on this already and put out the cry for your castration. Assuming you’re singing this song to a woman, and assuming you’re a man, then you’re telling her to shut up because she says things best when she’s not flapping her big, fat stupid mouth. I hardly think this is a fitting sentiment for a love song. I think this suggests you have issues with women. Did your mummy not hug you enough when you were small?

All day long
I can hear people
Talking out loud

This strikes me as though you’re going off on a tangent. And a rather mundane tangent at that. You can hear people talking out loud? It’s not worth singing about, is it? Unless you’re trying to contrast this with the voices you can hear inside your head it’s certainly not worth mentioning in a song lyric.

But when you hold me near
You drown out the crowd

Can you see what’s happening here? This has become rather pedestrian now. You’re telling her that when she’s close to you, you can hear that voice of hers – the one that was making you want to hit her a stanza earlier. This is not really such a spectacular thing. When people move closer to us, we can hear them more clearly than those who are further away from us. Why are you making a point to sing about something so obvious?

Try as they may
They could never define
What's been said
Between your
Heart and mine

No, Mr Keating. I’m not sure who this mysterious THEY might be, but it’s unlikely that even the most accomplished linguist could define the content of a conversation that has occurred between your heart and someone else’s. The heart is an organ without vocal chords or the ability to articulate. Was there some 'chemical inspiration' when you came up with these lines?

You say it best
When you say
Nothing at all

You really don’t like her talking, do you? Is she louder than those voices in your head? I’m not a counsellor, or a psychiatrist, but I would honestly suggest some sort of break is needed between the pair of you whilst you sort out your anger issues with appropriate therapy. It strikes me that you’re having too many ups and downs with this relationship and you have to accept that life is a roller-coaster.  Perhaps you could write a song about that instead?



Christo Heyworth said...

Once an English teacher, always an English teacher.
If you wanted to be truly intellectual, Ashley, you could point out that T.S. Eliot pointed out that the sounds of language have prominence over meaning, and poems and songs are sound collages, not puzzles to be solved.
Deconstruction of Art of any sort is a crafty way for arty-farties to earn a living without ever holding down a "proper job".
Thanks for the amusement - reminds me of Bob Newhart's monologue about Sir Walter Raleigh returning from The New World with potatoes and tobacco.

Ashley R Lister said...

Thank you. I'll remember for that future.