Saturday, July 28, 2007

Plain and White (Except For That One Black Guy, And Can Someone Tell Me What Made Him Join This Honky Band?)

Today, we examine the painfully romantic lyrics of the new hit "Hey There Delilah" by America's newest sure-to-be-around-forever sensation Plain White T's:

Hey there Delilah
What's it like in New York City?
I'm a thousand miles away
But girl tonight you look so pretty

[Here the protagonist professes his love for a young woman living in New York City. Mirroring the plot of an Ed Burns film, post-collegiate young people sometimes have trouble connecting romantically with others in their age group/social status while residing in a metropolis of over three billion people. The implicit irony is that even when one is surrouned by such a teeming mass of humans, one can still feel alone. Also, "city" sure does rhyme well with "pretty"--it's why God invented the Rhyming Dictionary.]

Yes you do
Time Square can't shine as bright as you
I swear it's true

[Other phrases that might have worked in this rhyme scheme: I puked my brew; I'm not a Jew; I ate Elmer's Glue; You gave me the flu; Flour and fat make roux.]

Hey there Delilah
Don't you worry about the distance
I'm right there if you get lonely
Give this song another listen
Close your eyes
Listen to my voice it's my disguise
I'm by your side

[Here, the protagonist entices the young woman to "close her eyes", and mentions a "disguise". This is what therapists call the two warning phrases of date rape.]

Oh it's what you do to me
Oh it's what you do to me
Oh it's what you do to me
Oh it's what you do to me
What you do to me

[Here, there are two possible scenarios being played out. 1) The power of what the young woman does to the singer are so powerful that a single phrase repeated many times conveys the emotional impact of this romantic interaction. Or, 2) the songwriter simply ran out of lyrics and went for broke.]

Hey there Delilah
I know times are getting hard
But just believe me girl
Someday I'll pay the bills with this guitar

[The singer has, indeed, reached his goal and is now paying bills with his guitar. The end result should now be that the young woman will be impressed with his bread-winning abilities and, thus, will now "put out". Whereas most young men of a certain upward physical stature would simply "put the moves" on such a female, the singer here--being ungainly, awkward and rail-thin--must write songs such as this to acheive the same effect.]

We'll have it good
We'll have the life we knew we would
My word is good

[In a puzzling move, the songwriter rhymes "good" with "good", inserting "would" to achieve some structural balance. While there are few additional phrases which might have worked, experts agree that "I rule this 'hood" would also assert itself as a boast to make the young woman "put out".]

Hey there Delilah
I've got so much left to say
If every simple song I wrote to you
Would take your breath away
I'd write it all
Even more in love with me you'd fall
We'd have it all

[In a brilliant stroke, the songwriter sheilds himself from music critics by using the phrase "every simple song". It reinforces the idea that this song is "from the heart" and therefore can withstand the lofty academic ruminations which would attempt to tear it down and label it aural bathwater. This is the same defense strategy used by Paul McCartney for his 1976 smash hit "Silly Love Songs".]

Oh it's what you do to me
Oh it's what you do to me
Oh it's what you do to me
Oh it's what you do to me

[Here, the songwriter seems to make the bold assertion that if he simply repeats this already-redundant phrase four more times, the impact of these words upon the listener will increase ten-fold.]

A thousand miles seems pretty far
But they've got planes and trains and cars
I'd walk to you if I had no other way

[Love can travel across vast differences--be they geographical, physical, emotional, spiritual, financial or sexual. Would love, however, walk a thousand miles just to be with someone? Even someone so willing to "put out"? Not when there are hundreds of other women just as eager to "put out" living just a few blocks from the singer's apartment.]

Our friends would all make fun of us
and we'll just laugh along because we know
That none of them have felt this way

[Nobody in the entire history of human existance has ever experienced love before, only the singer and the young woman to whom he is crooning. The singer and the young woman are uniquely qualified to feel the sensations of love because the young woman has promised the singer that she will "put out".]

Delilah I can promise you
That by the time we get through
The world will never ever be the same
And you're to blame

[In a striking reversal, the singer blames the young woman for all the world's sins: lust, poverty, pollution, suffering, etc.]

Hey there Delilah
You be good and don't you miss me
Two more years and you'll be done with school
And I'll be making history like I do
You know it's all because of you
We can do whatever we want to
Hey there Delilah here's to you
This ones for you

[The singer puts down the young woman again, this time by slamming her life's choices: He is "making history" writing hearfelt deeply personal music which touches the souls of listeners around the world, while she is merely finishing a Master's Degree in Cognitive Physics. The singer is a putz.]

Oh it's what you do to me
Oh it's what you do to me
Oh it's what you do to me
Oh it's what you do to me
What you do to me.

[For good measure, the key phrase is repeated four more times. This will be useful for live performances during which the audience can be engage in a now-this-half-of-the-room sing along.]


anandamide said...

hey, speaking of a single black guy being in an extremely honky band, did you ever see a picture of Journey when Randy Jackson (yes, the American Idol judge) was in the band? too much....

Disco:Very said...

Yes, I have. Jackson's high fade was so level you could build a house on it.

Mark Taylor said...

[Would love, however, walk a thousand miles just to be with someone?]

Of course it would. This is shown in the work of The Proclaimers, who proclaim that they would walk 500 miles and 500 more.

Interestingly, though the singer offers to walk to NYC, he apparently is simply sitting in a bar drinking Budweiser in tribute to Delilah, as referenced in the line:
This one's for you.