I was at the Supermarket yesterday, and a song came on. It was pretty typical pop—offensive only in its design to be utterly inoffensive. The singer was a typical American Idol style screecher. But the first lyrics struck me, “I want someone to know my favorite ice cream.” That is basically the whole song. For the next three minutes or so, she hammers home that theme that it’s nice to have someone around who gives a shit about you.
As Jonathan Richman said, “I don’t feel so alone—I got the radio on.”
The song is by a forgettable singer-songwriter, Rachel Platten. It is called Take These Things Away because in the chorus she sings, “No one can take these things away.” This makes no sense. With this line, she destroys the metaphor I originally liked. It isn’t literally that you want someone to know your favorite ice cream. You want them to care enough to know your favorite ice cream. And when they dump you, they may remember it, but they don’t care.
This is the best thing about a relationship. I think it goes back to having parents—mothers especially. When I was growing up, it seemed that my mother was more in tune with what I was up to than I was. It reminds me of a Christmas episode of The Waltons. The father was late getting back for Christmas. When he did, he arrived with presents. The present for John-Boy was writing tablets and pencils. How did his father know about his strong but unstated desire to write? Because we are not as opaque as we’d like to think, and good parents see right through us. As do good friends and good lovers.
So I like that line. Of course, I don’t have a favorite ice cream. But I want someone to know that I don’t like coffee flavored ice cream.
Here is part of the song performed in a living room. It works well. And at a minute and 43 seconds, you get to know what the song sounds like without having to listen to it all.