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Pulp – We Love Life

13 07 2012

Listened: Tuesday, May 15

I have no idea why We Love Life gets no love. When I saw Pulp perform back in April (best show I’ve ever been to, by the way) they only played Sunrise. I love all the other songs from Different Class, This is Hardcore, and His ‘n’ Hers, but there are so many great ones here as well.

One of my favorite songs in the Pulp catalog is Forever in My Dreams (a US bonus track on the album), mostly because of the classic “Oh, daaaamn!” lyrics Jarvis sings with gusto during what could be a romantic love song “I will love and respect you, I will honor and obey. But baby, will I marry you? Well, that’ll be the day!” I also enjoy that it’s very Bolero-like musically, which enhances the epic buildup to that lyrical bomb.

Sunrise is Pulp’s classic festival song, and I’m glad I got to hear them do it at Coachella 2012. It’s a song for ambivalent nocturnal creatures of the underground to shake their asses to – “I used to hate the sun because it shone on everything I’d done. Made me feel that all that I had done was overfill the ashtray of my life. All my achievements in days of yore range from pathetic  to piss-poor, but all that’s gonna change.” I believe him.

Two songs on this album – The Night That Minnie Timperley Died and The Birds in Your Garden – seem rather straightforward, but upon repeated listens I’ve discovered some interesting and possibly intentional vagueness of the lyrics in both.

Minnie Timperley seems to be murdered by a pervy serial killer. However, that’s never directly said in the lyrics. Maybe dying is a metaphor for simply being deflowered and losing her innocence. Jarvis sings “The world wants to sleep with you tonight” and punches right for the gut with “He only did what he did, ’cause you looked like one of his kids.”  Yes, her life could have been taken, or she might have had her virginity taken by someone with less than sincere intentions. It’s interesting to realize that I had immediately leapt to a reading that wasn’t concrete, if I listened to what was actually being said.

The Birds in Your Garden is nearly the opposite – the initial impression is that this is the story of a guy who is getting motivated to make the first move on a girl, but can’t quite get the nerve to, until he has an epiphany about life being short, and the listener thinks, “Hey, good job, dude!” as he seals the deal.

However, upon closer reading the lyrics become rather more disturbing. First, the perspective is very limited to just the guy’s vision. No clue is given as to the woman’s opinion of or response to anything; maybe she’s not as keen on his plan as he imagines her to be. The guy also notes he had an absentee father who never told him about the birds and the bees, raising concerns about the examples he’s had in his life. Further, the lyrics suggest (but don’t actually say) the guy woke up in the woman’s bed with her. He could also be some weirdo who had been stalking this woman, so he knows she’s still asleep and he’s rising early to go to her garden to think about doing more than stalking her this time. Then he hears voices (birds) telling him he shouldn’t be scared of his feelings about “taking her” and that he should be “touching her inside”.  At the end of the song, he goes to her bedroom and does “what’s only natural” but doesn’t actually say what that is – is it making sweet love to her or taking her life? I wish I had never thought of this, because the meaning of the song has totally changed since I did. However, I also love that Jarvis’ well-crafted lyrics can change over time.

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