28 August 2006

turn up the eagles
the neighbors are listening

so much captured in eight words. setting: a house, or apartment, but it somehow seems distinctly suburban. maybe it's that the Eagles are playing, the sound of the decadent, post-hippie, money-blind california lifestyle. in the city nobody would care about what was happening with their neighbors, or certainly about whether their neighbors would care about what was happening with them. not that anybody in this scenario actually "cares" in the real sense of the word. it's all about keeping up appearances, no matter that they're as empty as the soft-rock blanketing, as empty as the reality of this relationship. would the neighbors really be interested in what was going on? if so their curiousity is just as insipid as any of it, the catty leechlike gossiping nosey parkers. we can't have that going on in our neighborhood, well i never. are the Eagles really powerful enough to drown out this shouting match? hey, listen, it's a keg party, not a domestic drama! doesn't seem any less pleasant, and it for sure means more noise pollution, not less.

imperative. first person voice and the listener is forced into the uncomfortable role of second person. this sadistic asshole - righteously jealous, maybe, but hardly the model citizen he likes to pretend - has been barking questions and commands at you all song. only now, in the last line of the reflective (by comparison, only) bridge, does it occur to him to think beyond the immediacy of him, you, the bastard; beyond his wounded private pride to his jeopardized public image; beyond these walls to what lies immediately outside, as superficial as even that is. he senses a weakness, a potential breach in the bastion of his machismo - and you better tend to it now, missy. not that you're any better. oh sure, maybe it's all beyond your control, but you're just as implicated as him, and the neighbors, and the Eagles. you probably put the record on in the first place - or maybe the bastard did, the cuckholder. now there's a sick thought, no? the still-spinning evidence of his all-too-recent presence in the household - less than an LP-side ago (unless it's the radio) - used in a desperate attempt to forestall public awareness of the situation. of the sorry state of the marriage, and its present violent manifestation, more than of the dalliance itself. but really it's all the same thing.

or maybe it was your husband who put it on. always good to set the mood with some naff AM faux-folk before you start tongue-lashing your wife. was it meant to serve as background music for an interrogation, or for extramarital fucking, or is it just part of the ever-present fabric of life, unnoticed until seized upon for some sordid purpose its creators never intended? the song leaves some questions unanswered: was there even an affair at all, or is the narrator just drunk and delusional? should our sympathies lie with the silent, probably unfaithful wife, or her irate, vindictive husband? neither option is at all appealing.

rightly, our position is with the nosey neighbors. we can't really identify with the wife, who is just as markedly absent from our perspective as she is from his (which indicates not just her utter lack of power in the situation, but her utter insignificance as well, either for him or us.) these questions and commands are not being directed at us (thank goodness!), but to an even more powerless nonagent. we're merely eavesdroppers - at liberty to judge as we please, but unmistakably unwelcome, even as an implied presence. at this point in the song, the narrator recognizes our presence - he states it as a fact, not just a possibility. but by now it's too late to try to drown out the sound. we've already heard more than we would have liked, and even the Eagles wouldn't have been less pleasant.

[originally posted on reminced, 8/26/04]

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