Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Foo Fighters -- "The Pretender" (2007)

What if I say I'm not like the others?
What if I say I'm not just another one of your plays?
You're the pretender
What if I say I will never surrender?

When he was asked about the meaning of this song, Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters told an interviewer, "That's the thing with lyrics, you never want to give away specifics, because it's nice for people to have their own idea or interpretation of the song."

You can interpret the song anyway you wish, but before you spend a lot of time mulling the lyrics over, you should be aware that my interpretation is the correct one.  In my view, most of the songs on this blog -- and most of the songs I listen to -- are essentially about me.  Call me egocentric, call me a narcissist -- "Just don't call me late for dinner," my mother would add -- but I usually have little trouble finding a very personal relevance in the lyrics of songs I like.  In fact, when I e-mail the lyrics of a song to someone, or make a CD with that song on it, it always surprises me that the other person doesn't immediately see what the song really means -- by which I mean what the song means to me.

(By the way, I think Narcissus got a bad rap.  After all, Narcissus didn't invade Poland or spill a million billion gazillion barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico -- he simply was more interested in himself than in Echo or anyone else.  (Ovid tells us he was a very good-looking guy, so let's not be too harsh on him.)  But today the word "narcissist" implies that one is cunning or manipulative, a pathological liar, shameless and remorseless, and so on.  I certainly don't fit that definition -- although I might have to plead guilty if Charles Derber or Havelock Ellis called me a narcissist -- and I'm sure you don't either.)

Back to the song.  As I see it, the lines quoted above represent a defiant statement of a man's refusal to be manipulated or controlled by the one he desires.  The "I" of the song declares that he is "not like the others" but is different and one of a kind.  (Spoken like a true narcissist:  narcissists perceive themselves as special and unique.)  He then announces his refusal to be handled or "played" by the other.  (Narcissists are arrogant and feel superior to others -- a subservient position is not acceptable.)  Finally, he grandiosely declares that he will "never surrender."

In reality, of course, we nearly always do surrender eventually -- either we are desperate enough that we allow ourselves to be manipulated or exploited, or we finally give up in the face of indifference.

But regardless of reality, this song will forever remain on my iPod, and I will sing these lines like I really mean them when I'm riding my Gary Fisher "Utopia" to Lake Needwood:

Because, to quote the last line of The Sun Also Rises, "Isn't it pretty to think so?"

Here's the music video for "The Pretender":

If you'd like to buy this song from iTunes, be my guest: Foo Fighters - Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace

But if you'd prefer to buy this song from Amazon, that's fine, too:

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