You could be almost anywhere--a mall, say, or a restaurant, or a doctor's office--innocently minding your own business, when all of a sudden, there it is, forcing its way into your ears and consciousness, hanging out with you for the rest of the day. You didn't ask for it, but suddenly you're forced to share time with everyone's favorite semi-forgotten hirsute Canadian, Dan Hill.
Sometimes When We Touch came out in '77, and I've been hating it ever since. Not for its almost comically rote seventies singer-songwriter arrangement, which is almost endearing, and only partially for Hill's sensitive guy crooning, which makes James Taylor sound like Screamin' Jay Hawkins.
No, I hate this mostly for the lyrics. Let's explore them in depth, shall we?
You ask me if I love you and I choke on my reply
I'd rather hurt you honestly than mislead you with a lie
Um, okay, we have problems right out of the gate. I'm no relationship expert, but if you ask your spouse or significant other if he loves you and he chokes on his reply, you're in trouble. After all, it's pretty much a simple yes or no question. And really, depending how far into the relationship you are, it shouldn't even have to be asked. I mean, if it started out as a simple friends-with-benefits, no-strings-attached deal and somehow got out of hand, well, maybe I can understand, although if the rules shifted, it should have been discussed sooner in the game. But if it's some kind of long term, committed relationship and this clown can't even straight out say he loves you, run. Run fast!
But I'm sorry, Dan. You were saying?
And who am I to judge you on what you say or do?
I'm only just beginning to see the real you
Who indeed are you to judge, jackhole? And what are you judging, anyway? What horrible transgressions has Imaginary Girlfriend committed? Whatever they might have been, they surely pale in comparison to the crime of writing a weepy, covertly misogynistic ballad that inexplicably gets trotted out as a wedding song THIRTY YEARS LATER despite its wildly inappropriate lyrics.
Again, Dan, forgive my interruption, especially as you were just getting to the chorus.
And sometimes when we touch, the honesty's too much
and I have to close my eyes and hide
I wanna hold you to I die
'till we both break down and cry
I want to hold you 'till the fear in me subsides
Oh, for the love of--Okay, first of all, close your eyes and hide? I realize this was the seventies and all, but even Alan Alda and Phil Donahue would scornfully tell you to stop being a pussy. And you have to hold Imaginary Girlfriend until the fear in you subsides? So she's forced to be your security blanket? How nice of you to allow her to be your enabler.
Romance and all its strategy leaves me battling with my pride
But through the insecurity, some tenderness survives
I'm just another writer, still trapped within my truths
A hesitant prize fighter, still trapped within my youth
What are you, Hemingway? A writer and a fighter? Plus a wizardly conjurerer of half-baked, incomprehensible metaphors!
We get the chorus again, then--shudder--this:
At times I'd like to break you and drive you to your knees
At times I'd like to break through and hold you endlessly
At times I understand you and I know how hard you've tried
I've watched while love commands you and I've watched love pass you by
At times I think we're drifters, still searching for a friend
A brother or a sister, then the passion flares again
And sometimes when we touch, et cetera
I'm not even going to bring up the whole unbelievably icky business of comparing your lover to your sister (Is that what you were doing, Dan? Seriously, your metaphors suck!), to focus on your whole patronizing attitude. This poor, poor damaged woman! Fortunately, the Dan-mesiter has some time for her, even though all he can do is whine endlessly about how this relationship effects him, without even a moment's thought for her feelings. Even when he's holding her ('till the fear in him subsides, don't cha know?), all he can think about is whether or not this is good for him, is he happy, is this okay?
Yeah, granted, my relationships tend to fizzle out in the end. But Great Googly Moogly, when I'm in one I damn sure commit. I'm there because I care about that person, and if she asks if I love her, I don't "choke on my reply." I say yes, and mean it. That's how a relationship works, if you're actually in love. If there's doubt, fine, but honestly admit it. Don't sit there seesawing back and forth, offering nauseatingly pseudopoetic blather.
Don't, in other words, be a schmuck.
Incidentally (and some of you may be suspecting this is the real reason for this entire post, but you're wrong, I tell you. Wrong!), as lame as Hill's original version of this song was, it's hard to believe it could get any worse. But if you dared to think that, you failed to reckon with the unstoppable force of sub-mediocrity that is...LYNDA CARTER.
Oh sure, you can make fun. (My favorite part is her decidedly less than passionate, out-of-breath-and-about-two-beats-behind-the-orchestra pronunciation of the word "passion", as in "BUT THEN the passion FLAARRES AGIIINNNN!") Still, give her credit. At least she leaves out that stupid writer/boxer metaphor. Be grateful for small favors.