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Sat, 23 Feb 2008

Hell and High Water

"Hell and High Water" is one of my favorite Rainer Maria songs. It, too, is on A Better Version of Me (2001). In fact, for a while, I thought it was called "A Better Version of Me". You can read the lyrics on the Rainer Maria website and, if I've given you the password, listen to the song.

I know I should just drop everything and let her sing
She's a better version of me

I used to hear, "and let her think she's a better version of me."

The song is about a girl "who'll pick up where I leave off." Is the girl in the song imagined or real? Is the singer's love being stolen by a girl "devising a better mouth just to kiss you"? Instead, maybe the singer is just trapped in her feelings of inadequacy. The girl in seems too perfect to be real; how could she sort through the singer's memories? Could she really have "never forgotten a name or a punchline"? She's at once "picking her fights like she knows how to win them" and would be "brave when I run off"; she's an unstoppable force in her life. Wouldn't that be nice to be?

I don't understand the line about speeders killing you on their tiny street; maybe it's a metaphor for how easily people rushing through life can feel like they're running you over. In that vein, you can imagine businessmen in suits who "know what they want" nearly running over a thoughtful pedestrian.

Another question: In the quoted two lines above, is "She's a better version of me" what the girl is singing? Or, instead, is watching the other girl sing enough to make the singer resigned to her inadequacy? I always liked the pun, "I'm lost but she's found"; it's the same kind of pun.

The message of the song is the question, Do I resign myself to desperation and dream of a better version of myself?

There's not really an answer, but after a long song of self-doubt, the singer tries to reassure herself:

I tell myself, You're not a fool.

I like this song because I can summarize hope to myself by singing, "You're not a fool." Sometimes I even believe it.

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