Punk rock goes to raw places that usually just tend to fester in the dark, and it shines a light on them.
There is something about punk rock, including 80’s style synth-driven punk rock like that of The Killers, that gets supremely honest and cuts through politically correct “you can’t say that” with a “that’s how I feel, though” response.
Maybe there’s a greater place for punk rock, now, than there ever has been. Because no matter what intellectual formulations you may have about what it means to be human, unless we put our histories and emotions up where they can be seen and heard, we can’t discuss them or process them or consider what’s behind and within them, and whether anything needs to change.
And “Your Side of Town” by The Killers, is a whole bundle.
If I could put my arms around you
Would you remember how it feels
To bask in the glow of my protection?
Somewhere on a film screen, some cowboy part is being played by John Wayne, and he’s saying in a low, slow drawl “Hey there, little lady.”
This isn’t country music, but the message has been incubated in the same place. It was right there in our transparent hospital bassinets with us, while parents looked into the nursery through a glass partition. The little boys were going to grow up to become men, and to protect the little girls.
In that paradigm, it’s not just about being the provider, the leader of the household, the giver of protection, though.
No, it’s about destiny.
Love and relationship, in that value system, is about finding “the one,” about achieving your destiny. That means that you need to know, somehow, which person is “the one”- the one and only. Then success – not only in love, but in life, in fulfilling your destiny – can be found, if only you live with enough passion to do so.
A broken heartbeat, barely alive
And now it’s harder to breathe
‘Cause I couldn’t make you believe
What’s written in the heavens above
Can’t be denied, it’s biggеr than love
It’s bigger than love. It’s destiny itself. And if a man can’t make his partner believe in that fate, he has failed. It was his job to provide the vision, to bring the unity.
So then there’s the temptation to try to make destiny happen, to increase the chances of “chance encounters,” by just happening to be in the same place as the estranged lover. Like the Paul Simon’s song “Gumboots” lyrics – “Say, ain’t we walking down the same street together on the very same day.”
It hits a bit more like “I’ll Be Watching You,” by The Police, though, when Sting sings…
Oh, can’t you see
You belong to me?
Every move you make
I’ll be watching you
I mean, when Dean Martin sang “On The Street Where You Live,” it sounded kind of romantic.
But in “Your Side of Town,” The Killers seem at least aware of the stalker-vibe that goes with those kinds of lyrics. The song has a sort of poignant sadness, an awareness that – despite the pain – there are emotional decisions that need to quietly be made, to accept loss, to experience grief, and not to exacerbate that with a desperate persistence which can’t lead to anything good.
The streets are dripping with dеcisions of a quiet kind
Hallucinations on the shoulder of the borderline
With my experience, I’m better off just backing down
Instead of tripping through the pages of your side of town
Serrated edges of the blade are scraping over the leather
I guess we couldn’t keep it together
I thought we had it covered forever