Tuesday, July 29, 2008


"She's got the most beautiful eyes... and her smile, it really lights up the room.
"She's just amazing- I've never known another woman like her.
"She understands me like no one else- she knows the real me, and I know the real her.
"We'll be perfect together...
"She'll see."

At some point in their lives, most folks have been smitten with someone who they are convinced doesn't even know they exist. Whether it's a coworker, classmate, or casual acquaintance, they come the focus for a harmless infatuation- usually lasting as long as it takes for the smitten to realize hey, they're just people, like everyone else.

But what if they really didn't know you existed? What if they'd never met you before, never seen you before, never heard of you before? And what if it wasn't a harmless infatuation- what if the object of your affection becomes the focus of your existence, the objective of your existence, to the exclusion of all else, often including morality, rationality, and reality? What have you become?

Welcome to the world of the stalker.

Everyone's familiar with the concept of the stalker; like described above, these folks become obsessed with another person, be it celebrity or next-door neighbor, and begin creating elaborate fantasies out of nothing. The idea of the stalker has been addressed by musicians for decades. Some of the most popular songs of the past few decades have been about these people:
"Every Breath You Take"- The Police
"Possession"- Sarah MacLachlan
"Creep"- Radiohead

The latest addition to this sub-genre of songs is one of my current favorite songs out there, "I Will Possess Your Heart" by Death Cab for Cutie. Like many of these songs, the sheer malevolence of the content of the song is often masked by the tone of the lyrics; it's only after repeated listenings that you discover just how dark the lyrics actually are (look at all the folks who used to dedicate "Every Breath" to their loved ones- either they're a bunch of stalkers, or they didn't catch all the dialogue). "I Will Possess", unlike some of the other songs, lets you know from the beginning, somewhat unconsciously, that it's not a light song about puppy love- it has one of the most menacing basslines I've heard in a song. It's not particularly violent or loud, but there's something about the steady way it's played that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up.

In addition to the fantastic bass, the lyrics themselves are sung in a stumbling counterpoint to the rhythm and melody of the music, further drawing the listener into that stalker's headspace. The singer's light voice catches you off guard, particularly after the long musical introduction. You're humming along to the tune until you realize exactly what the song's about.

The video is the final ingredient to the mix, and one of the most subtle. It's essentially a 10-minute travelogue of a young woman's trip to various places around the world. The beauty of it is that you're just watching her go about her trip, but you're always watching her from a distance, and almost always from behind her. When you make the connection between the lyrics and the video, the video goes from a nicely shot long-form video to one of the scariest music videos ever.

Oh, the picture. Well, I was watching the video/listening to the song, and the image just occurred to me. I suppose it could take place just after the video ends or something along those lines. Not the most pleasant of pictures, I know, but the song really struck me, visually, and this is what I came up with. Originally just a sketch of the woman, I brought it into photoshop and created everything else.

I'm hoping this musical exercise will recur here more often; quite some time ago I'd asked folks for songs and/or lyrics that really struck a particular chord with them, or had some really nice imagery. I've not forgotten those, and coupled with my own ideas (music is GREAT for getting visual imagery), I'm hoping to visit that area again.

I'll possibly be back Friday; definitely be back next Wednesday.

Oh, I saw The Police in concert last night. Yes, it was great.

Music: "Wrapped Around Your Finger" - The Police

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