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Sat, 23 Feb 2008

I'm melting!

I love this song. "I'm melting!" is the last song on 1999's Look Now Look Again. You can read the lyrics or download the song. Turn the volume up when you listen to it.

(Normally I'd link to the official lyrics, but for some reason they're entirely missing.)

Older Rainer Maria songs sometimes, as on "Rise" (the first track on this album), have the vocals cover the full range from "timid" to "soft". Instead, this song starts with a bang and keeps it up; the drum hit before the guitar starts makes me think of someone taking a deep breath before loudly making known all the things she had been holding back from saying. I can see her chatting politely with some boy who thinks some other girl is prettier (*) when her firey eyes open suddenly to let him know that she's been cheated out of a conversation anyone could care about.

In a show of personal strength rarely seen (and therefore deeply appreciated) in Rainer Maria, she sings verse and verse feeling dramatically more involved than this loser.

I'm dying from only
listening to you,
and though I smile,
it's just because I want to like you.

The feigned happiness of greeting was stretched so long she had to snap and write this song.

It's not just "more involved" that she feels; she's putting in effort in the conversation and getting nothing out of it. These lyric captions don't capture the force in her voice. Listen to "only, only" as she sings it. Listen to how it parallels "over, over[whelming]" and "of, of [listening to you]". After either stuttering or emphatically repeating these, she screams, "Though I'm quiet, I'll find my voice tonight." Whether that means actually telling it to this guy or finding someone else she actually enjoys talking to we don't know.

The activity (would you describe it as scattered, and then collected, in two or three measure blocks?) on the guitar and drums throughout the first part of the song is tremendously energizing. You hear an echo of the style in the "Take me out... I'll melt" section, but it's almost as if the energy from the vitriol of the first half has healed; she has changed her message from screaming in pent-up agony-turned-rage to a self-assured "Yes, I'm like this."

I love the song's structure. The similarity between "overwhelming you with lies" and "only listening to you" is hammered home in the stylistic similarities I mentioned earlier. It's easy to lose the words in the music and the rhythm of her vowel repetition. (It actually took me quite a few years to get the lyrics down in the right order.)

"I can be so cold sometimes" leads to a great crescendo which quiets down to a whisper from the guitar. It grows, and grows, and she declares, "Take me out, and I'll melt."

What does it mean to melt here? The sentence is almost a threat; "take me out" to meet people and I'll put up a facade of trying to like them until I lash out at them? For me, the song can be a reminder of how, despite any naysayers, you really are as exciting a person as you once felt. You don't need any justification, and if they're not appreciating you, you can just drop them. It does serve as a terrible song to think about when meeting people at a party, however.

Even as the song ends on this more mellow note, which I summarized above as, "Yes, I'm like this," the guitar is unfailing in maintaining its pitch and fervor as it ends the album. By no means is such self-empowering energy indicative of the album; as one of Rainer Maria's best albums, it covers a mix of deeply recognizable feelings. With the ability to look back over their career since then, the solo female voice on this song foreshadows songs like "Ears Ring" from 2003 and most of their new album, Catastrophe Keeps Us Together. Contrast that to Kyle's contributions to the track before it, "Centrifuge." Also, contrast this last song on an album to "Hell and High Water" on 2001's A Better Version of Me.

Other favorite songs of mine by Rainer Maria leave me introspective or pensive. Many Rainer Maria lines I love depict the singer holding the broken pieces of something she loves in her hands and wonder if it can be put back together. Not this one; this is a trip of well-justified self-importance. I really hope they play it on Sunday! (And I hope they feel energetic and happy enough to pull off playing it.)

(P.S. Yes, I know, this post is a little late. Sorry about that.)

(*. As a matter of record, Caithlin has no shortage of prettiness.)

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