Everybody wants things. You for example. You want something. You are chasing something elusive; a dream, a person, a goal, a state of mind. You struggle to achieve your goal and when it evades you, you look for solace. You are just like the rest of us when it comes to this because you try to find that solace, however temporary, in wine, in sex, in food, and in art. Sex, food, and substances work well enough, of course, but if you really want to wallow in your misery, you’ll choose art. One of art’s raison d’etres, after all, is to be some kind of tool for sharing this longing, for finding others who also long for things, and for identifying our struggle in them.
There is something fascinating that happens when you are reading a book, or watching a film and you identify with the protagonist. You gasp as she is confronted with new challenges, you long for him to achieve his goal. You are Harmione Granger. You are Rocky Balboa. You are Jupiter Jones.
But music works differently. You don’t leap into their bodies. You don’t chart their growth and their hero’s journey. Something else happens when you listen to music. You still identify with the loneliness, the longing of the singer, but you are not the one leaping into their body. It’s like they are leaping into yours.
When The Seeds thump out their song of longing and loss they are doing it from inside your chest, banging out the beats of your broken, lopsided heart. It starts with a neat little question mark of a hook and devolves into a sulking, slinking plea that becomes more ragged with each passing bar. The guitar strum chugs along, the sonic representation of what it’s like to frown and when lead singer Sky Saxon, an Eric Burden influenced, proto-Iggy Pop says:
Come back baby, ’cause I’m all alone
Come back darlin’, ’cause I need your love
Come back, ’cause I wanna love ya
Girl, I wanna love ya tonight
we know he will never get what he wants. And that is why we love him. That is why we long to be like him. Just look at this sad son of a bitch.
There is very little self-awareness here. The Seeds just set their mind to the task of wringing every ounce of pathetic gloom from their performance. The song is about frustration, after all. It’s about deprivation. Even the bridge is a pretty little musical phrase interrupted by vulgar guitar stabs. It’s the decimated lover, the deferred dreamer trying to put on a brave face only to realize that when confronted by the world at large, she doesn’t have the strength. Saxon is howling by the end, skewered by his desires.
It’s a tragic song that embodies failure and frustration. The song is the first song the band ever recorded and their first hit. I’m sure they thought it was only the beginning of a long Stones’-esque career, but it was not to be. The Seeds are relegated to Rock and Roll also-rans. Little did that they know that the very dreams they harbored while they played this song in an LA studio would be the very thing they would be unable to make their own.
So just remember, when this song gets stuck in your head that The Seeds were never able to get what they wanted. What makes you think you will?