Friday August 15, 2003

Sometimes the random song generator that is Primco Radio goes on an amazingly inspired tear through my music. I got up to take a shit as the song Truth Serum by Smog began to play. It’s on Supper, the most recent album. I don’t really know it yet, I just put the whole thing into rotation. Truth Serum is a meditative song – perfect for sitting on the pot. And Bill let me go up on the roof with him and listen to his thoughts.

“Me and some friends of mine
We stayed up all night taking truth serum
We soon realized the mistake we’d made
And went our separate separate ways.

I went up on the roof
Where I thought I’d find some truth
There beneath the stars
But questions followed me”

Ok, standard Smog storytelling. It’s usually something good, with twists and turns so I’m intrigued. And just then a woman’s voice sings.

“Do you miss me when I go?”

Never heard that in a Smog song before. It’s nice. I find out later it’s Sarabeth Tucek singing. How many times have I been asked that question? I hate that question. Here’s Bill’s answer:

“Aw, Honey, I love you and that's all you need to know.”

Nice enough answer. But it's not enough. She asks:

“Well, then what is love?”

“Love is an object kept in an empty box.”

This one got me good. Riddles are good answers. I thought that would do it but she asks:

“How can something be in an empty box?”

“Well, well, well, well. Give me another shot...”

Characteristic Smog humor. Can a simpleminded question tear down a beautiful poetic statement? He seems to give in. Instead of saying something like “No, don’t you get it? C’mon!” He acts as if he just got caught. Does he really think his answer has been exposed as nonsense or is he humoring her? Is he annoyed by the question like I would be? Does he actually not miss her and must fight against the truth serum to not hurt her feelings? I think the answer is somewhere between. This is what is interesting about the song to me because he’s managed, with just a few lines of dialogue, to create a fairly complex dramatic moment. But hold on, it turns out that he was dangling another line. After another of his masterful pauses that split lines, divides and multiplies meaning, he finishes with a line that completely reverses the meaning of the previous one but leaves its impact lingering. Fantastically beautiful.

“..of that truth, truth, truth, truth, truth serum.”

He goes around with another verse but you’ll just have to listen to the song for that one. I want to end up quoting from preacher Bill because I think it illuminates the male narrator’s motivations were when he said the “Give me another shot” thing:

“People people there’s a lesson here plain to see
There’s no truth in you
There’s no truth in me
The truth is between.”

voyeurs of the world, give something back!

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