Part II: Opposites Repel

“Dove Season” from The Belt (2013) by In the Valley Below

 

Key Lyrics: “Hold to my heart just when you thought enough is enough”

“You can’t choose your love. I could use your love. Can’t lose your love”

“If this is the end, let’s start all over again”

Backstory:

Listening to this song, it occurred to me that I don’t actually understand what it’s supposed to be about, which I imagine is the case for most of the songs I’m going to tell you about. So, any personal connection I talk about having with the songs may not actually have anything to do with their originally intended messages. Just be aware of that.

At any rate, with “Dove Season,” it was the overall sound of the song that I found to be comforting in my time of sadness more than the lyrics. I feel like the reverb-heavy guitar part plus the pretty noticeable delay in Jeffrey Jacob Mendel’s vocal part give this song a general melancholy about it somehow. Angela Gail Mattson’s lovely, raspy voice and whatever the synthy drum sound is (most noticeable at the beginning of the song) also contribute to the whole dreamy atmosphere, making this a great song to listen to after you’ve just had a really intense cry.

What immediately caught my attention, though, was the opening line sung by Mattson: “Hold to my heart just when you thought enough is enough.” I’m not going to lie, I honestly thought the line was “hole to my heart,” instead of “hold” (and still kind of think that makes more sense), but the internet tells me I’m wrong. Either way, it was really the second part of that line that got me: Just when you thought “enough is enough.”

If this is the end, let’s start all over again.

Immediately after I broke up with my ex, I regretted it. The truth is, breaking up (or taking a break, or whatever language you prefer) was something I had been considering for months. He and I even spoke about it on more than one occasion. Of course, I was hesitant to leave him because I loved him, but it wasn’t the love I felt that held me back. Rather, it was the loss that I didn’t want to feel. Have you ever felt like that? Like you’re just so tired of losing people? Or maybe just tired of losing? I know that’s a selfish reason to prolong a relationship that I’d been having some serious doubts about, but the two-ish years that he and I were together were the first years in a long time that I had actually felt kind of normal. The five years previous had all been marked by a struggle to get through college, multiple deaths in my family (all people with whom I had pretty close relationships), a ton of other devastating family drama (that’s maybe a little too complicated to get into just now), and, oh yeah, severe depression. For years I felt like I was living in a fog, both emotionally and physically, and I was never fully awake (annoyingly, I never felt like I could fully sleep, either). The time my ex and I were together was a time when I felt like I could finally see a little more clearly and take a breath of fresh air. I finished college while we were together, my family calmed down significantly, no one else I was close to died, and the depression was more manageable than it had been in years (though not as manageable as either of us would have liked, as I explained a little in my earlier post). It’s like I said, I was tired of losing people. I was tired of having my heart broken, and from my point of view, it seemed stupid to intentionally break my own heart again after I had finally caught somewhat of a break. Enough was enough.

I could only ignore that nagging feeling that told me I needed to take some sort of action — even at the expense of my own heart and his — for so long, though. That’s where “Hoops” comes in.

“Hoops” from New Skin (2016) by JONES

 

Key Lyrics: “Shapeless divide, you’re not on my side. For every angle that I’ve tried, still I jump through hoops to get to you.”

Backstory:

While “Dove Season” was a song better suited to those sad, nostalgic moments I had after my breakup, “Hoops” was here to remind me why (or at least one of the reasons why) I felt I had made a good decision. The song seems to be about a relationship that has become so difficult to be in that the narrator is having a hard time keeping up the charade. For whatever reason, these two people just aren’t connecting even though they may want to. That pretty much sums up a lot of my relationship with my ex.

Shapeless divide

We always knew that our personalities were a little different from each other, namely that he is pretty easily offended while my general demeanor tends to offend people pretty easily. What I mean is that I’m quiet and reserved, which is often misinterpreted as being standoffish or even judgmental. He’s very talkative and more emotionally transparent, which could sometimes come off as being overly sensitive. I’m not saying there is or was anything fundamentally wrong with our respective personality types. We were aware from the outset that it was going to take some time to master how to most effectively communicate with each other, though, and that it wouldn’t be easy.

You’re not on my side

Given that we were already friends in college and ran within the same circles, we didn’t anticipate exactly how difficult getting along would really turn out to be. I would often say things with no ill intent whatsoever that would somehow end up hurting his feelings anyway. No conversation — ranging from playful banter to talking about household chores — was safe. We got to a point where I felt like I couldn’t speak without starting a fight, so a lot of times I would just end up not saying what was really on my mind. This was immediately alarming for obvious reasons, and when any attempt to discuss serious concerns I had with our relationship turned into petty (and loud) arguments, I could no longer ignore it. I felt like he was taking everything I had to say as a personal attack against him, and there was only so much I could do to help it anymore.

For every angle that I’ve tried

When we spoke to each other on the phone for the first time in a month, I distinctly remember him making one of his usual promises to do better. He would strengthen his resolve and try harder. “That’s just it,” I told him. “I don’t think it’s supposed to be this hard.” I didn’t think constantly having to jump through all those proverbial hoops just to get along with each other even on the most basic, day-to-day level was the way a loving and healthy relationship was supposed to be. I still don’t.

So while “Dove Season” provided a nice, moody backdrop to my breakup, “Hoops” was lyrically pretty well suited to what I went through. That’s why these guys are on my playlist.

Also see: Anatomy of a Breakup Playlist and Part I: Gone Insane

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