The purpose of this Song Break series was initially humor. But I don’t want to limit myself so here’s a more serious analysis.
Today’s Song Break is:
This was one that I have had to churn and think over for a couple of days. It suddenly hit me as I was sitting in class listening to a lecture on Philip Larkin’s poem “Dublinesque”. The haunting music began playing in my mind and I suddenly found myself fascinated. First of all, a street walker is a slang term for a prostitute but in this day and age, the interpretation of the street walker in this song is most probably a certain kind of woman, perhaps a sexual connoisseur.
There are two people in this song; one is the singer and the other is the Street Walker. It tells a tale of one person who is perhaps infatuated by the other, and an elusive woman who, through her thoughts, lives elsewhere. It’s very clear from the first chorus that the speaker’s desire is sexually fuelled and the woman – as her title suggests – is almost like an apparition, neither here nor there.
There are a few tricky lines in this song, one is the line: “Oh what a pretty high note…” The first image that came to my mind was the image of the siren, a feminine creature of myth whose songs sent sailors to their doom. But it could also be the sound of orgasm, a sign for the speaker that he’s pleasing his lover.
And then there are the words, “glistening” and “water”. It becomes clearer now that he is the sun and she is the water. He wants to shine for her wherever she goes so that her distracted mind will have a light to focus on. And she is the water, the life force that drives his desire. But that is only the first chorus.
As we proceed onto the second verse and so forth, the atmosphere turns dark. There are shadows walking on the wall. There is a palpable sense of paranoia in the speaker’s dark visions. Sameer sings the line “Just tell me where you are” with so much pressing desperation, you can really feel the neediness in his voice and in his desire to be with the Street Walker. Then comes the water but it is not a life-giving force anymore, it drowns, it kills, it is in fact a stand-in for an orgasm. She drowns in sexual ecstasy. The speaker’s position shifts from the subject of unfulfilled desire to an almost prophetic one when he warns: “you’ll drown, drown down in it.” What I see in this change of voice is the actual position between the speaker and the Street Walker. All this while I thought the power and agency were in the Street Walker’s hands for possessing something that the speaker was lusting after but in a cryptic turn of events, the Street Walker has no power at all. She goes, she walks without moving because it is a necessity, she runs.
The speaker is not actually a separate being but part of the Street Walker’s consciousness. The speaker is more like a voice of reason, battling with the absence of its other half, its emotions. It hears echoes of emotions in the drowning, that is how it knows she is alive somewhere. The water, in this final moment, stands for a destructive and mysterious force that will ease her pain. Water is both soothing and chaotic. The one constant question – tell me where you go – becomes effete because it is an unanswerable one. There is no such place where she can love without leaving. The high note is a performance; the sin is very real; the water is climactic. And the climax is another name for death.