I had a kind of revelatory thought process about this song while I was in the shower that I’d like to share with you.
Some background: I think I have listened to this song, no exaggeration, about 100 times in the past 48 hours and ran through three bottles of liquor in the same amount of time. It’s been a rough past few days for me, and the curious thing about all of this is that generally I am never inclined to listen to happy music when I’m in one of my despairing states. If you’re still following me you are certainly aware of this, you’ve noticed all the Swans and Black Flag and post-hardcore I’ve been putting up. So immediately, I understand that there’s a melancholy undertone to this song even if it’s not one that I can readily put my finger on. What is it about this beautifully composed and devilishly catchy but otherwise innocuous pop song that’s been captivating me so in my hours of darkness?
Then when I was in the shower I started thinking about the lyrics. Immediately, just as something being read and not hearing it from Davy Jones’ weird falsetto, something seems a little off:
“Oh I could hide ‘neath the wings/Of a bluebird as she sings/The six o’clock alarm would never ring”
You understand these sentiments immediately. These aren’t words that leave a happy, well-adjusted person’s mouth. This is someone who needs to escape or, to put it in his very own words, hide.
“But it rings, and I rise/Wipe the sleep out of my eyes/My shaving razor’s cold, and it stings”
Dreamlike fantasy juxtaposed against immediate, painful reality. Then there’s the chorus, which we’ll get to in a minute. This all only makes sense once you draw a loop-de-loop through the song as a whole.
So now we’re at the second verse:
“You once thought of me/As a white knight on a steed/Now you see how happy I can be”
It’s to be noted that the original lyrics to that part were “funky,” not “happy.” Funky can mean a lot of things, including goofy or weird, and that was how it was used most before the 70s. And “happy” makes sense as a replacement because it indicates frivolity, one doesn’t tend to picture a white knight on a steed with a big silly grin on his face.
“Oh and our good times start and end/Without dollar one to spend/But how much, baby, do we really need?”
Okay, so what does that have to do with the whole rest of the song? Nothing, until you look at the chorus.
“Cheer up, Sleepy Jean/Oh what can it mean/To a daydream believer and a homecoming queen?”
So here’s what I think is happening with this song: Something is breaking, between this guy and Jean. She’s starting to see cracks in his armor (as a white knight) and he knows it, and he’s panicking, and he knows things are coming to an end, which is why he doesn’t even want to get up in the morning, he’s so scared to face the end. The second verse seems like he’s talking to her and trying to make her stay, but the chorus is where this all comes together, where he asks her: why does this matter to you? And he’s asking her that because he thinks she’s like him, so none of these faults she’s finding should matter because they’re kindred spirits. “So what if I’m a goofball? So what if I’m broke? I know who you are: You’re a Daydream Believer. Those things shouldn’t be important to you.”
Am I projecting? Without question, yes. But I needed to share this because it occurs to me that this thought process that I just inflicted upon you has so much to do with who I am as a person. I find one thing that I love and then I have to figure it out, feverishly, hold onto it and make it mine through the way in which I process it. I use big words, I’m good at putting a sentence together, but I’m a child. And there’s a reason people get so irritated with children.
So…sorry about all that. I know I’ve probably been fucking up your dash pretty intensely the past few days. We’ll go back to business as usual soon enough; I’m re-entering my natural state and it hasn’t been the easiest process.