Tuesday, 4 December 2012

I'm gonna tell you something you've known all along




I've always found the line "I'm gonna tell you something you've known all along," from the Blondie song "You keep me hangin' on the telephone," uncanny.

When I'm in a brittle and vituperative mood the irony of the lyrics puts me in mind of a number of  academics, though certainly not all, who, after carrying out very important research, tell me all I ought to know about the life I've been leading for 67 years. In this way I interpret the line as "I think you're going to tell me something I've known all along so maybe you shouldn't bother."  This is cruel and mean of me.

The best way and - I believe -  from the lyricist's point of view,  a faithful way of hearing these words is through the tumult of the idealising,  lustful, and painful love of youth. This meaning urges , 'I hope, no, I'm desperate for you to hear something I'm not sure you knew all along but I desire and demand that you   -  and furthermore I'll die if you don't  -  echo my longing  because I can't bear for a moment longer to pluck rose petals and wonder, "She loves me, she loves me not," '  This is the happiest, silliest, yet most agonising and ecstatic sense of the line. Oh ! for that visceral excitement again.  Well, maybe I'm kidding myself, I'm not sure I could bear it now but the thought and the fancy bring a smile to my face.

In an ugly and scandalous sense - which I am sure Deborah Harry does not mean to communicate -  the line insists I am fully aware that in the current world set up, and in the current United Kingdom set up, the poor will get poorer, and more miserable, and more hungry, and less healthy, and more marginalised, and more despised, and more misrepresented and less represented and there is nothing I am doing to stop it.

Shame on me. I need someone to tell me something I've not known all along, who'll let me know how I can help to change the suffering of the majority of my fellow human beings.  Don't keep me hanging on the telephone.
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