Thursday, March 27, 2014

I don't love you all that much

Dan Bern is known for writing songs on Apatow movies, including Get Him to the Greek and Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. So it is understandable that a first listening of his "Jerusalem," the Weather on WtNV's fifth episode "The Shape in Grove Park," sounds like an ironic impression of 1960's Bob Dyan.  He purposefully messes with the harmonic rhythm by adding more and more lines to the oscillating I and IV chords, while singing in the high nasal voice with over-enunciated words on very static melodic lines.

The lyrics also encourage a humorous take: 

When I tell you that I love you / Don't test my love / Accept my love, don't test my love / Cause maybe I don't love you all that much

Don't ask what kind of music I'm gonna play tonight / Just stay awhile, hear for yourself awhile / And if you must put me in a box, make sure it's a big box / With lots of windows / And a door to walk through / And a nice high chimney / So we can burn burn burn everything that we don't like / And watch the ashes fly up to Heaven / Maybe all the way to India / I'd like that

All the ancient kings came to my door / They said "Do you want to be an ancient king too?" / I said "Oh yes very much / But I think my timing's wrong" / They said "Time is relative / Or did you misread Einstien" / I said "Do you really mean it?" / They said "What do you think we come here for / Our goddamn health or something?"

Everybody's waiting for the Messiah / The Jews are waiting / The Christians are waiting / Oh so are the Muslims / It's like everybody's waiting / They been waiting a long time / I know how I hate to wait / Like even for a bus or something / An important phone call / So I can imagine how darned impatient / Everyone must be getting

So I think it's time now / Time to reveal myself / I am the Messiah / I am the Messiah

Yes I think you heard me right / I am the Messiah / I was gonna wait till next year / Build up the suspense a little / Make it a really big surprise  / But I could not resist / It's like when you got a really big secret / You're just bursting to tell someone / It was kinda like that with this / And now that I've told you / I feel this great weight lifted / Dr. Nusbaum was right / He's my therapist / He said get it out in the open

I spent ten whole days in Jerusalem / Mmmm Jerusalem sweet Jerusalem / And all I ate was olives / Nothing but olives / Mountains of olives / It was a good ten days / I like olives / I like you too

So When I tell you that I love you / Don't test my love / Accept my love, don't test my love / Cause maybe I don't love you all that much

But, like most good humor, there is truth hiding deep in the bits.  Why do we test love, why do we need to label music, the commonality of religions, the possibility that anyone or everyone could be the Messiah.  I'm torn whether the truths are emphasized or apologized for by the humorous elements.  Of course, the same thing could be said about the Welcome to Night Vale podcast, that there are philosophical elements that are undermined or softened by ludicrous humor or horror elements.  I love humor, but I get frustrated sometimes when a strategy or beautiful thought is spoiled just for humor.  Is that the case with "Jerusalem"?  I don't think so.  I feel that Bern's passion is legitimate, so the humor comes out of that anger and frustration.

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