Your song I Should Have Known Better was a hit in 1985, when I was 14 and my passion for Brian Mannix, lead singer of local Melbourne band Uncanny X-Men, was burning bright. That's why when I think of that song, the memory always comes in with him saying at the film clip's end, "So sad, isn't it?" presumably on one of the many nights he hosted the weekly music show Countdown (an Aussie institution).
It comes into my head sometimes, this song, and Brian's comment. I don't know why. I need neither of them, to be honest with you, but they stay nonetheless, relentlessly stained into the groove of my teenage years.
And so I found your song again in my head before, in the strange way of earworms. A spin of a word sometimes is all it takes - I feel sad, I say the word "sad" in my head, and then before I know it my brain's flung open my head's filing cabinet and taken out the file marked "sad" and out spills Jim and Brian together. I would like to refill the file with things that do not lead to annoying earworms, but I'm not quite sure how to do that yet. It requires defragmenting abilities that I am able to do on my computer, but not yet in my brain.
I am feeling sad today, Jim, because Saffron Cottage in Tecoma is being demolished to make way for a McDonald's that many here do not want. It has been an ongoing fight, which is not over, and will not be over, because this relentless march of expanding capitalism/corporatism/economics is a childish concept that, once you examine it, turns out to be something bordering on insane. But I digress.
I do not wish to launch into discussions about economics. Instead, I wish to take issue with one of the lines in your lyrics, if I may.
Your song is all about how awful you feel because you shagged some chick at the pub one night after a few too many Jimmies, and now you are remorseful because your relationship broke up as a result. You wish for forgiveness. Because as you say, you've never loved no one as much as her. And you should have known better to lie to one as beautiful as her. But surely ugly chicks don't deserve to be lied to either. Which leads me to a question: years later, after the wounds have healed from your relationship breakup, would you say in hindsight that it was only because she was beautiful that you felt awful lying to her? You should have known better to lie to one as beautiful as her. If she looked like Hatchetface, would you have felt bad for lying and betraying her confidence, or would that have been not as bad? Were you feeling bad because you fucked up and now the beautiful girlfriend you punched above your weight to have (let's be honest, one plain person to another) dumped you on your bum? Did she take you back? I hope so, if that was the right thing for you both. But if not, I hope the wounds have healed via the love of another woman, and that you resisted the urge to shag people-not-her.
It was rather poignant, your recounting of you seeing her walking by the other day, and knowing that she saw you but she turned away. You were lost. That is very sad. But it brings me to the real thing that I take umbrage about in your song, your ode, your plea, Jim (may I call you Jim?) And it's this. You say:
You see, I've never loved no one as much as you
I fooled around, but tell me now
Just who is hurting who?
This is the bit I don't understand. It seems obvious that your relationship was a conventional monogamous one. I could understand your confusion if you were in an open relationship, but it seems from your ex-girlfriend's response that you, my dear, went over a line that was unacceptable to go over. And you broke something that was beautiful. You broke her trust.
And so I ask you this: why did you project your stuff onto her, Jim? Tell me now just who is hurting who? Why is she hurting you - because she broke up with you, because she turned away? You know why she turned away? Because you hurt her. Her reaction, breaking up with you and then not speaking to you when she runs into you outside the supermarket, is not her hurting you. It is the result of your actions, porking said chick in said pub.
I hope that in the intervening years, if she didn't take you back, that you can at least concede that one.