Monday, May 10, 2010

Lovers and Losers (Part Two)

One of the loveliest ballads in the Great American Songbook is “I’ll Be Around” (words and music by Alec Wilder). It goes (in part):
I'll be around,
No matter how
You treat me now
I'll be around from now on.

Your latest love
Can never last,
And when it’s past,
I'll be around when he's gone.
A beautiful song—but totally wrong-headed.

The persona, having been dumped (once again) by his* former flame, will put his life on hold until she changes her mind and returns to him (he thinks). He is in despair now, but will be in seventh heaven when she recognizes that he is the true and steadfast lover. Unfortunately, no one can make another person love him (or her). And, so, the persona is left to spend his days allowing the fickleness and whims of another to control his emotional destiny.

He would do well to consider the advice offered in the third (and final) stanza of Sir John Suckling’s “Why So Pale and Wan?”:

Quit, quit for shame, this will not move,
This cannot take her;
If of herself she will not love,
Nothing can make her;
The devil take her.

*The persona can, of course, be a woman.

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