Monday, 28 February 2011

Odyssey - Inside Out (1982/ No. 3/ 11 weeks/ RCA)

Inside Out is a song in which the singer explains her emotional state of frozen desperation to the listener. Although the circumstance that she is in leaves her feeling numb and impotent, the song, its arrangement, and her delivery, are very warm and teary, making you feel as though this woman really can't keep herself together for very much longer.

What makes us support her when she's in this skittery state is that she's clearly genuinely aiming for a stoicism and graciousness. She's addressing a loved other who doesn't want to know anymore;

When you're sitting on your own
And you feel the city life - surround you...

(Backing vox: Ooohooohooo!)

And she's always on the phone
But you just don't think that you can fight it
Don't give up, don't give up...

You realise that this must be a song to an ex because of that tone of prior knowledge in the opening: I know you darling and I can tell you what you're like. This nobility is a tough call for anyone who really does care or has cared to pull off, though, and although that introductory line went alright, the singer is calling him up to say yes, I do know and understand what you're feeling for her, because I still feel this for you...

Uh-oh! This is always a bad idea.

In a record that gets progressively more and more uncomfortable to listen to, the singer then starts to abase and torture herself in a way that won't do either party any good;

When you're lying in her bed
And you're in her arms instead of my love


The voice of the singer (either Lillian or Louise Lopez, I never know which was which) catches on the 'st' of 'instead'. That single word - that forces her to acknowledge that she has no meaningful place in the life of the loved other anymore - crumbles in her mouth;

As you feel her tightening grip
Like a genie, I will slip - from your heart

You can imagine the man hanging up on her at this point. The rest of the song is sung for her benefit, giving voice to a range of unhappy stages of yearning; Its so unfair ("oh I WANTED TO BE!"); wishful defiance ("I won't give up, won't give up, won't give up"); unheeded residual feelings of pity and tenderness for the other ("Oh, don't give up, darling, what you dream!"); and above all, an endless choking physical sensation... The relentless way that the choruses harp on intimately about wanting to be turned inside out present the listener that she's confiding to with a highly discomforting, gynecological, sense of internal feeling;

(I wanna be) Inside out - Oh, darling!
I want it to be so deep that you'll be turningmeturningmeturningme over and OVER AGAIN!

(Inside out!)

I want it to be so deep you'll be needing me

Too close! And in an impressive meta-textual touch, a feeling that can't be confined by the four minutes of a disco single;

Like the notes here in this song
We'll go on and on and on and on with our love... yeaheaheah

Note also how the backing vocals constantly unhelpfully break free with a harmonious joyousness that the singer the singer can never experience.

The music behind these unsettling words is really very complex indeed, so much so that you'd have to have heard the song a few times before you can work out an effective way to dance to it. There's an awful lot going on, too; queasy lifting strings, several separate synth lines (blip blip bloo bloo!) and tinkles that tease the listener and singer alike, a Bernard Edwards-style bassline as solo, a slappy and harsh rythym guitar, and so on.

The music is chaotic because to love and not to be loved in return is to live in chaos.

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