“Every time we make the decision to love someone, we open ourselves to great suffering, because those we most love cause us not only great joy but also great pain. The greatest pain comes from leaving. When the child leaves home, when the husband or wife leaves for a long period of time or for good, when the beloved friend departs to another country or dies … the pain of the leaving can tear us apart.
Still, if we want to avoid the suffering of leaving, we will never experience the joy of loving. And love is stronger than fear, life stronger than death, hope stronger than despair. We have to trust that the risk of loving is always worth taking.”
Mark Kozelek is one of my favorite lyricists. He paints surreal relational landscapes that explore toxic love between partners and family. His words are haunted by love lost, heartfelt nostalgia, and force me to examine a moment - perhaps too much, causing me to analyze rather than enjoy existence as it unfolds. He was a force that helped to sever my music snobbery around the age of 17. Landing on the 4AD label in his early years, this midwestern ghost was drawing influences from all over the place. The likes of Nick Drake, Lou Reed, Joy Division, and even John Denver spilled out of his song. He covered Denver, Simon and Garfunkel, Kiss, Michael Jackson, Modest Mouse, ACDC, and countless others. He was able to completely transform the music of someone else and make it his own. It wasn’t simply a cover, but a reinvention. That reinvention is what broadened my musical appreciation.
Today’s offering, “Take Me Out”, comes from the second album (known as “Rollercoaster”) of his band Red House Painters. There isn’t a bad song on that record, so you need it in your collection. As I was collecting songs to express my love for my former wife over the past three years, I kept landing on this song. I didn’t feel like I could include it in a list because I did not completely understand the lyrics. I probably still don’t understand the lyrics but I have (as I mentioned earlier) over-analyzed them instead of just enjoying the pure beauty of the song.
This song seems to me full of loving for a former and, in fact, that former is dead. However, the voice seems to indicate that whatever relationship did exist was tainted. It was a mess that he was having difficulty piecing together and wanted some type of release. Perhaps there was guilt or a simple uncertainty to weather or not things could have been worked out. So, he’s wanting to find a way to let go of any heartache related to memories good or bad - to be taken out, instead of back in - out of struggling, wrestling, “what-if’s”.
I’m probably miles off but that is the rudimentary interpretation I’ve given it. It definitely could not have been included in a mix that was loaded with songs that said “I’m sorry” or songs about loneliness. This song is sad but it has a subtle bite - and that is not an unusual trait of a Kozelek song. This current playlist that is being compiled are definitely songs of disappointment in the woman I once loved. Now free from her grip and now that my eyes have been opened to her deception, shallowness, heartlessness, and thoughtlessness - I can offer a delightful grouping that, though still loaded with heartache, projects sadness in a different direction. This gives you a bit of a break and allows you to let go of some self-pity!
There are relationships that I do understand. There are people I love being around. Those are my focus and my hope. “All other ground is sinking sand.”