La Musica: Wicked Game (Friday Mix)

I am more sympathetic to South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford and his lover, Argentine businesswoman María Belén Chapur, than is apparently allowed by the judgemental fulminators of either the left or the right. To the former, Sanford is a laughable hypocrite; to the latter, a repugnant sinner. To both, Chapur is a “slut” and a “homewrecker.” To me, they’re just human beings, skewered by love. No blame, no balm.

At some point I plan to inscribe a long and no doubt musty essay about the recent confluence in the news of Sanford, Farrah Fawcett, and Michael Jackson, all of whom were occupied by loves unconfined by the rigid de rigueur American cage of one man one woman, happy together happy forever, till death do us part.

But that’s a lot of work, and I’m lazy. So instead I’ll play some music, here on this Friday, the day traditionally ruled by Venus, she who oversees love, in all its many variations.

The dreamiest, most otherworldly love song I’ve ever heard is the Flamingos’ 1959 version of “I Only Have Eyes For You.” A perfect blend of material and production. Listening to this thing, you completely believe that the singer is so transported by love that he truly doesn’t know whether it’s cloudy or bright, whether the moon or stars are in the sky, whether he and his lover are in a garden or on a crowded avenue, whether he’s alone with his beloved or whether millions of people are passing by. Because “I only have eyes for you.” Literally. And the song can you take you there, too.

Mark Sanford, poor fellow, has been in precisely that place, as he’s found himself wholly unable to stop talking about his love affair. It’s like it doesn’t even really register with the guy that anyone else is out there. He sees only her.

you are here
so am I
maybe millions of people go by
but they all disappear from view
and I only have eyes for you

It’s a magic place, that one. But one where you can easily be run over by a bus.

I retain nostalgic affection for Bonnie Raitt’s “Something To Talk About,” as it was released as I was entering into a workplace affair with a married woman. She, one afternoon, as we were driving to lunch, drew my attention to the song, thereby signaling that she was feeling what I was feeling. She was then learning, as Sanford learned, that it is indeed possible to love more than one person at the same time.

The king and queen of adultery songs is “The Dark End Of The Street,” which, legend has it, was written by Muscle Shoals tunesmiths Chips Moman and Dan Penn during a 30-minute pause in a card game at a 1966 DJ convention in Memphis. According to Penn, the pair “were always wanting to come up with the best cheatin’ song, ever,” and, that day, it just . . . came.

The original version, performed by James Carr, is excellent, but tops to me is the nearly eight-minute workout by Terry King and Bobby Evans on their terrific Live And Let Live. The song is all about tension, which the pair maintains throughout, until at the end, where the number generally fades out, King and Evans burst into a bout of testifying, ending with an explicit, soulful statement that they intend to keep on keeping time, “sin,” “wrong,” or no. Good on them. Just like Ms. Chapur, in her email to her lover: “I don’t want to put the genie back in the bottle because I truly believe in freedom.”

Unfortunately, there ain’t no video of King and Evans’ “Dark End” on the tubes. I offer instead this version by Cat Power, which is sorta spooky. Best to not look, but just listen.

This last song speaks for itself. And for an awful lot of people. Sanford, Chapur; me, down through the ages; you, probably at least once or twice. The video is no doubt Wrong. The song, like love, is not.


6 Responses to “La Musica: Wicked Game (Friday Mix)”

  1. 1 Jerry Northington July 3, 2009 at 5:46 pm

    You make me wish sound worked on my computer. ):

    But that Bonnie Raitt song resonates in my head. That is a great one. I’m putting that album on the CD player to hear loud and clear. Thanks for the reminder.


    • 2 bluenred July 4, 2009 at 10:14 am

      Don’t you at least have a little built-in speaker in your computer? I think even Gates machines have one, so it can make a little noise to let you know when it’s restarted after a crash. ; )

      Glad you liked the Bonnie.

      • 3 Jerry Northington July 9, 2009 at 10:53 am

        Even Bill Gates does not put in a sound card without being paid for that accessory. At the office our computers have no sound installed. At home the Linux box won’t play sound for some software reason. Only on the Mac and I don’t use that for regular stuff. Leaves me to forget sound and video which is fine for my surfing time nearly always anyway. I’d prefer to hear music on the stereo.


      • 4 bluenred July 9, 2009 at 11:20 am

        Bill Gates is so wrong.

        This little Mac mini has some kind of tiny noise box that sends out a wee bit of sound. So does the older Mac I use at work. Taran has a Gates machine that has a little noise unit, because it goes “ping” when the thing starts up after dying.

        So you mean your Gates machines are silent even when they Go Wrong? Oh well. Maybe he even likes it that way. Otherwise, in a big office, there’d be an incessant din, as machine after machine grinds back into service after the daily (nay, hourly) go-down. ; )

  2. 5 juliarain July 7, 2009 at 8:59 pm

    It took me a while to find an appropriate song, but I think Thursday’s “Signals over The Air” might sum up how Governor Sanford and those in similar situations might feel, with the media swarming around him and taking something he had that was personal special and cheapening it for their own benefit:

    “this is what you see when you look in my direction:
    incandescent corsets draw eyes tight like wires.
    this is how it feels,
    calling out but no one even hears
    the signals that we send over the air…

    when you say my name,
    i want to split it from your lips
    and hide like whispers in the rain.
    when you say my name
    i want to stop it in your lungs
    and collect all of your blood to put in the radio…

    there’s no where to hide.
    they stole the love from our lives to put the sex on the radio…

    if i keep holding my breath, all of this will fade away.
    if you keep driving we’ll be lying in the wreck.
    changing the shape,
    folding like an envelope to keep each other in…

    yeah, that’s where we hide
    the love and lies and sex, on the radio.”

    I just took the best lyrics from the song, the full lyrics can be found here:

    Honestly, I feel really bad for Sanford. I heard him say that he believes that this other woman is his soulmate, but that he wants to try to fall back in love with his wife. Why? How does that make anyone involved happy? He’s not doing it for his career, which is pretty much over.If he thinks it’s the “Christian thing to do” then why would he even stay a Christian, if all it brings him is unhappiness?

    There is also Hinder’s “Lips of an Angel” the infidelity anthem of my generation. For some reason girls my age love this song; I think it’s okay – but it definitely fits:

    “Honey why you calling me so late?
    It’s kinda hard to talk right now.
    Honey why are you crying? Is everything okay?
    I gotta whisper ’cause I can’t be too loud

    Well, my girl’s in the next room
    Sometimes I wish she was you
    I guess we never really moved on”

    I think my friend Lizzie says it best. “Girls only like this song because they don’t get it. They all think they’re the girl calling when they’re probably the girl in the other room. I know I was.”

    I don’t know. I’m more a fan of their other, incredibly depressing single “Better Than Me”:

    “I really think you can do much better than me
    After all the lies that I made you believe
    Guilt kicks in and I start to see
    The edge of the bed
    Where your nightgown used to be
    I told myself I won’t miss you
    But I remember
    What it feels like beside you
    I really miss your hair in my face
    And the way your innocence tastes
    And I think you should know this
    You deserve much better than me”

    Must stop now, before I find more lyrics…

    • 6 bluenred July 7, 2009 at 10:27 pm

      Regarding your first observation, about how Sanford must feel as his love life is plastered all over the media, so that people can gawk, I’ll repeat these lines from a Le Carre novel, that I used in a kos diary when Republican senator and closeted gay man Larry Craig was caught cruising for partners in an airport bathroom: “a man whose very dream of love, till now vested in secrecy, has suddenly become public, and ridiculous.”

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When I Worked

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