Friday, October 8, 2010

Love You To Death

One of my favorite songs by London After Midnight, a fantastic Darkwave act that I've grown to appreciate more and more every time I listen to their albums. I love it because it's a beautiful deconstruction of the classic  love song that gets recycled by every new mainstream pop star. That type of boring retread of the same topic in the same way is part of why I never got into music as kid. All the songs more or less sounded the same. When I hit 13 I discovered Marilyn Manson. His music was a breath of fresh air because, for once, an artist wasn't sugar-coating their work and singing what everyone else was singing about just to sell records. Course, later I discovered the Sisters of Mercy and "Temple of Love," which along with "Lucretia My Reflection" was probably responsible for getting me into Goth music.

Sadly, a lot of people don't get what the point of the song. First time listeners often point out to me that Sean Brennan (the guy who writes the music and does vocals and guitar for LAM) sounds like an incredibly creepy stalker. Well...yes. That's the point. If you could distill the message of this song into a single sentence, it's that mainstream attitudes of love and affection seem to be written by narcissistic psychopaths whose destructive obsessions have nothing to do with really loving someone, but rather are about seeking a state of adoration at the expense of the wellbeing of their victim. These people want to be loved by beautiful people to validate themselves and their existences. So I figured I'd write this stanza-by-stanza analysis of the lyrics to prove my point. Below is the lyrics and a link to a youtube video with the song. I chose a song that has poor compression quality from youtube as encouragement to buy the album.

Without further to do,

Love You To Death
By: London After Midnight

"die when I hear your voice,
to touch you Divine.
Be my posession, my sweet obsession wine."
The opening is standard fair romance music talk, creepy but not uncommon in the likes of music such as Brittney Spears. The last line of this stanza is pretty jarring however. It's a clear statement of the intent of the true intentions of the narrator. His/her goal is to become intoxicated with the feeling of romance rather than expressing true emotion to his victim. Notice how the first two lines actually don't actually relate to characteristics of the victim, but rather the narrator's physical responses to interactions with them.

"I'm dealing in demons love,
its just a matter of time.
I'll wear you down,
one day you will be mine."
In this stanza, the narrator demonstrates the destructive element of his obsession. If he/she cannot have their intended victim, no one can. This is a question of ownership and power, of being in a relationship for the sake of having someone they can control. If their victim does not adhere to their strict sense of love and affection, they must change or be destroyed in the process.

"Only I can make your life complete,
just give yourself to me.
Only I can make your destiny."
Again, the narrator's narcissism shines through. He/she is adamant in their own importance in the victim's life, regardless of the victim's feelings for him/her. Obviously if the victim feels otherwise then they are lying to themselves. In the narrator's eyes, it is only by relinquishing control that the victim can understand their destiny.

"So give me your heart my love,
and give me your soul.
I'd give you mine but I
sold it long ago."
Control is key here. The narrator wants the victim to surrender their will to him/her. Yet ironically, the narrator is not in control at all of their destructive behavior and dangerous obsessions. Perhaps the need for control of another is compensation for the narrator's inability to regulate and understand their own emotions. The lack of self control makes the narrator seek out control over another, and their obsessive single mindedness and desire to watch their victim is a distraction from their lack of introspection.

"Only I can see inside of you 
just give yourself to me.
And I won't stop until you see the truth."
An interesting element of the narrator's obsession is that because his/her interest in the victim is purely self-serving, their understanding of the victim is shallow and superficial. Instead, the narrator assigns characteristics to the victim based on his/her desires. The victim is a canvas for the narrator to project his desires upon. The real personality of the victim is inconsequential.

"I love you to death.
I love you completelly,
a love that is purely vain.
I never meant to hurt you so badly,
I thought you'd enjoy the pain."
The first line, the title of the song, carries most of the meaning of the song. It also has multiple meanings. On one level, the narrator's obsession is no doubt destructive. It represents both their own death, as they continue to project their own lack of personal understanding in their obsessions rather than trying to understand themselves and their own feelings, as well as their victim's death, whose life is certainly being ruined by the narrator's power game. On another level, it represents the narrator's obsession destroying the reality of the victim in his/her mind. The real individual doesn't exist in the narrator's mind. They are an object to project their feelings onto and nothing more.

The second and third line is an open statement of the nature of the narrator's feelings. His/her "love" is the obsession and it is complete and total. It has to be to make up for the fundamentally flawed narrator's perception of themselves. The love is "vain" because of its superficial quality. It only exists to cover a flaw, and therefore has nothing to do with real emotion.

The last two lines demonstrate the narrator's awareness of their destructive behavior. The narrator knows to some degree that what they are doing is bringing harm to their victim, but by virtue of their narcissism they cannot take this into account when moved to action. The narrator can only proceed by convincing themselves that the victim wants to be harmed.

"I know what you feel it love,
I can tell from your tears.
So don't deny me,
give into your fears."
The narrator once again equates the pain they are inflicting with love, and thus the reaction of their victim to their behavior as reciprocation. The narrator cannot have this any other way, because it would mean the victim has no feelings for them. This beautifully mirrors the narrator's own condition. In the mind of the narrator, the victim behaves this way because, like the narrator himself/herself, the victim does not truly understand themselves or their emotions. Thus the narrator fools themselves into feeling connected to the victim by virtue of their own lack of internal understanding. It becomes a perceived commonality between them, even if this commonality only exists in the mind of the narrator and has no basis in reality. 

"I love you to death.

I love you completely,
a love that is purely vain.
I never meant to hurt you so badly,
I thought you'd enjoy the pain.

I love you to death.
I love you completely,
a love that is purely vain.
I never meant to hurt you so badly,
I thought you'd enjoy the pain."

So there you have it. A stanza-by-stanza analysis of one of my favorite songs. Hope you liked it!



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