On one of the Sunday evening round-ups a while ago, a cover of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” by Ben Sevier was featured, a singer and musician in Phoenix who performs under the moniker Wyly – and just earlier this week an original song was loaded onto his Soundcloud page, “Storytelling,” which touches on the obsession called love from another angle and succeeds in leaving an if anything more indelible impression than the other.
In these lyrics there is restraint in the number of words, while the margin of mystery in their meaning is great, and thus the style of delivery – so smooth that the song’s nearly a lullaby – was chosen well by the singer. Here, as it is anything but clear who is addressing whom, perhaps what we are hearing or overhearing is the altercation transpiring somewhere in the heart of a single lover who finds himself torn – not so much in two as in three. Might it not in fact be the case that by turns this lover denounces himself on behalf of a distant beloved, returns to the defense of his own person, and advocates for the unrequited love as such – without at any point resolving this inward dispute at all? For indeed, if it were to be settled, what then would remain of storytelling?
Yet could love even be, or could anyone ever have fallen into it, had not a tale first been told? “Il y a des gens qui n’auroient jamais esté amoureux, s’ils n’avoient jamais entendu parler de l’amour,” insisted La Rochefoucauld,* and who of us could credibly claim that in our desires we are unaffected by such a power of suggestion? All the less credibly, the more one has gotten entangled in the amorous fiction while alone with oneself, for, after having heard love talked about, we all each have had to talk ourselves into it, did we not – into that very inclination to fall in love to begin with. Thus, without this inner storytelling, love could conquer nothing at all, and even though notice is rarely taken of it, its serious confusions are sounded again in Sevier’s song.
* Réflexions, ou Sentences et Maximes morales, no. 136 in the edition of 1678.