I know I said I would skip EPs but I’m doing this one because I think it is an important bridge between Gold and Americana and also because I want to learn how to spell Le Vainqueur without having to look it up all the time. However, I’m only doing this EP partially; I’m not reviewing the radio edit of “Le Vainqueur” and I’m skipping “Starflyer 2000” because I’m going to do “Leigh and Me” at a later date.
Le Vainqueur is the beginning point of some characteristics of sf59 songs that I love so much in later albums. This song starts out dark, moody and discordant. The rhythm guitars are slow and determined and sound a lot like chainsaws. Something is being cut down here (I have some theories on what this may be but we will get to that more in Americana). It reminds me of some Saturday mornings when I was a kid when Daddy decided that some trees on the property had to go. I would hear that chainsaw droning outside for hours; sometimes steady, sometimes punctuated in short bursts when he revved the chainsaw up or when he was sawing through a branch. I would go outside to help him put the sticks and branches in piles, although most of my time was spent climbing and playing on the branches of the newly fallen tree.
I have to confess that this is one of those songs that I had no clue what the lyrics were in the verse until I had to sit down and write about the song. Interpreting sf59 lyrics in the mid-90’s was always a gamble because you couldn’t just Google that shit back then. I would guess at them, make up some of my own, or just forget about the lyrics altogether and just melt into the melody. As it stands, I have no clue what the first verse is about. I’ve had a couple of days to ponder it and still no illumination there.
But picking up on the bridge and the outro, I know those lyrics and have had occasion to live them out. It reminds me of a close relationship I had which fell apart. We were best friends and saw each other everyday for years. At some point, it became apparent to me that I was putting in most of the effort in the relationship. I stayed silent about this for awhile, not knowing what else to do. I even tried bringing this up a few times to explain how I felt but nothing changed in the relationship dynamic.
Now I am a scientifically minded person. If I cannot find an answer to something in conventional ways, I will test it out. And so I did a little experiment. I stopped chasing after this relationship and decided that I would reciprocate what was given to me and little more. I didn’t do this in a cruel way. If she offered to do something with me, I would accept and we would have a good time. Later on I would offer the same to her as she had previously offered to me.
The end result was that the relationship fell apart within a few months. This tells me that it was mostly my energy and effort that was propping up the relationship the whole time and without my effort there to brace the weight of it, what was left of the foundation crumbled and the whole thing came down.
She moved out of state a few months later. The night before she moved away, I asked her if she wanted to remain in contact. I did this in part because I wanted to hear her clearly state her intentions. She said that she did want to remain in contact. In the year since then I have made some small effort to be in contact but she has only called once and that was only because her mother made her do it (there’s a long story attached to that which involves an antique dresser and a tank-top wearing professional body builder showing up at my door unexpectedly).
When I love, I love fiercely. I have always been this way. I have trouble understanding when others do not love the same way. Sometimes the dissonance between what I believe love should be and how other people act can be overwhelming. But what can you do when this dissonance drones on in your head for hours like a chainsaw felling a tree? Do you climb the branches of what is dead on the ground, trying to know and understand something that was previously out of reach?
You hang, you ride on. You keep on going knowing that it will be alright. Even when they do not call, it will be alright. What ain’t growing is dead and there is no point carrying what is dead on your back. You will be better off without that burden. And it will be alright.