I’ve mentioned the Clumsy Lovers before but I wanted to mention my favorite of their albums (of the ones I’ve heard), Barnburner. It maintains a remarkably consistent and successful of good matured sarcasm about human behavior.
Take, for example, the first song on the album, “Good To Be Alone” a delightful satire of the impermanence and confusion of adolescent relationships.
The lyrics sketch a storybook romance (of sorts).
I once knew a girl she worked at the mall . . .
She looked so good in jeans. . . .
I remember when I’d sneak her home at 10 …
we once stayed out late / it was much more than a date . . .
The chorus describes the relationship falling apart for reasons that the character cannot figure out. The lead vocals say, “We changed in different ways” and “It’s good to be alone sometimes” but a quieter voice says, “deep down there’s a fire . . . maybe there’s a chance.”
The music is so happy that it never suggest deep seated anger or self-deception, but just someone who is emotionally confused, but still holding their head up. Perhaps it is even possible that they are not confused but are both happier alone, and still aware of a longing, deep down, that the relationship hadn’t fallen apart.
In the context of that mood they do a very nice cover of Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright (another Bob Dylan cover). I’ve always been somewhat uncomfortable with the more venomous side of Dylan’s songwriting, and this song is certainly in that register. Lines like, “I once loved a woman, a child I’m told / I give her my heart but she wanted my soul” or “Still I wish there was somethin’ you would do or say / To try and make me change my mind and stay / We never did too much talkin’ anyway” are so obviously one-sided they make you wonder what they woman in question thought was going on, and realize that the song provides no way of knowing.
In the Clumsy Lovers’ version the lightness of the music, and the comparison to the first song, plays up the essentially adolescent nature of the emotions in the song. The narrator is so one-sided that he can’t be taken as having ever been an honest partner in the relationship. That’s true about the original of the song as well, but I appreciate the way the Clumsy Lovers are able to smile at the song.