Saturday 22 October 2011

The Words She'd Written Took Me By Surprise

This has to be one of the most beautiful songs of all time -- and also one of the saddest.

The beginning of the song; he finds the girl's diary.
"I found your diary underneath the tree
And started reading about me
The words she'd written took me by surprise
You'd never read them in her eyes,
They said that she had found,
The love she'd waited for."
And wow; it's so beautiful. It really is. It's David Gates on vocals. An incredible voice - it just gets right into you. Hits you smack bang in the heart. It's not because of singing technique, it's not classes; it's soul and truth, right there; in a recording. He went there. Really went there.

It's the loveliest song about your one true love, of that moment when you realise she loves you.

But wait.
"I found your diary underneath the tree,
And started reading about me,
The words began to stick,
And tears to flow,
Her meaning now was clear to see,
The love she'd waited for was someone else not me."
"The love she'd waited for was someone else not me" -- isn't that the saddest line in the world?

Tragedy is awful. Makes the world stop. You don't leave your house for weeks. Anger is crazy; you go mad at the world. But the heartbreaks are different -- because nobody really sees them. You get up and go to work with a sunken heart. All the buildings carry the weight of a memory and all the people around you feel like ghosts. You're stuck inside the memory of a feeling you had and a person you loved -- and you think they loved you but it turns out it was someone else.

"The love she'd waited for was someone else not me" --- was there ever a sadder lyric? The way he sings it, too. In life you find love and then your life is figured out, but only if they love you back. Otherwise when they go off to the store for groceries or in their car on a road trip -- they're not thinking of you, not even close. They're thinking of that other guy. Ouch!
Bread captured that in a song.

Pure truth. Life. Heartache.

Reminds me of that Phil Collins line in 'One More Night';

"I've been sitting here so long wasting time, 
just staring at the phone. 
I was wondering should I call you,
And then I thought
Maybe you're not alone."

Ouch. You wanna call but then you realise, maybe they have someone else for company. Ouch ouch ouch isn't life just the most poignantly heartbreaking thing imaginable?

Nobody remembers Bread and nobody thinks Phil Collins is cool. But that's often the path for art when it's true. It misses out on the public consciousness or it gets adored secretly in the bedrooms of the broken-hearted.

That is art. That's the power we have. We can sit around coming up with ideas like "What if the baddie shoots the guy and then he steals all the money", but that's not what it's about. It's about the truth. About being brave enough to bleed all over the page. Put yourself out there. Of course, you need craft and you need a reason to do it -- but when it happens, woweeeee it's magic! And as depressing as it is talking about heartaches and breaks; I actually feel GOOD! Music is amazing like that. 

That's why I can't stop listening to 'Diary' at the moment. It's so real that you can't help but relate to it. Especially when it comes to matters of the heart; it's all to easy to repress anything that has feeling or fear and bury it when you're fifteen. Songs like 'Diary' take us back, even if only for three minutes. We remember what it is to be alive.

Care to share?


  1. Phil Collins must really know heartache, because "Against All Odds" breaks my heart. That song has the perfect combination of lyrics and melody.

    Now that you've pointed it out, most all of my favorite songs break my heart a little. Hm.

  2. There are so many songs that move me but the one I return to again and again is America by Simon and Garfunkel. The way it builds to the following words gets me every time.

    "Kathy, I'm lost," I said, though I knew she was sleeping
    I'm empty and aching and I don't know why
    Counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike
    They've all gone to look for America.

  3. you know what? =) You are my source of awesome songs <3 specially maggie may and that patty criffin song!

  4. That's one of my favorite lines. I was just listening to that song today.

  5. Yet again, you have swept me away. Are you reading my mind? Love your blog. Truly. Bread and Phil Collins are classics. Pooh on people who think otherwise!