You know the time when you suddenly remember a good song or find a new one which you quickly become absolutely obsessed over? Eventually you end up banging your head in the desperate hopes of getting rid of the melody that has been haunting you night and day – in the worst case for weeks on end. ‘Solitary Man’ has been my latest musical torture, and it all started just over a week ago. Now I am going to pass the pain forward by introducing possibly the three best-known versions recorded of the song.
And as a Finn and a die-hard fan of HIM, I am going to start with this version. Now, judge me or not but I actually thought ‘Solitary Man’ was their original song until a couple of years back… Whoops, my bad! Anyway, this version was published in 2004 in the compilation album ‘And Love Said No: The Greatest Hits 1997–2004′. The music video was directed by Bam Margera, American professional skateboarder and friend of the lead singer of HIM, Ville Valo.
Apparently, as I quickly learned, the original version is written by the singer and song-writer Neil Diamond, published back in 1966. In my opinion, the lyrics resonate the shy-but-artistic kinda vibe of a passionate but relatively conservative romanticist in the beginning of a rebellious post-modern era when planning a life with one and only partner can be considered going against the rebellion amongst the youth?
For me, the representation of shallow love as a ‘paper ring’ is the most ingenious verse of the whole song. An engagement and/or wedding ring considered as the circular never-ending symbol of love and commitment thus becomes intentionally downplayed by the fact that paper as a material is very fragile and thin. If you give someone a paper ring as a promise of a future together, even the symbolic object will most likely will rip apart before you know it. Traditionally (for example in Finland and in the United States) people who are celebrating their first anniversary is said to have ‘paper wedding’ which, in the contemporary context, could be linked to the fact that half of the marriages last less than one year.
I’ve had it to here
Bein’ where love’s a small word
Part-time thing, paper ring
I know it’s been done
Havin’ one girl who’ll love me
Right or wrong, weak or strong
Don’t know that I will
But until I can find me
The girl who’ll stay
And won’t play games behind me
I’ll be what I am
A solitary man, solitary man
On the other hand, the song with its meaning is still as relevant in 2018 than it was 50 years ago. As long as there is people that believe in one true life-lasting love, I guess? I’m just speculating that it must take a lot of devotion and tons of hard work to maintain and grow your love for another person. At least if there are no forms of violence involved, it must pay off at the end of the day.
Actually, from all these versions the one that pleased me the most was performed by Chris Isaak – the king of the 90’s rockabilly falsetto. Of course I had heard of him and some of his songs before but his just happened the time his music really hit me close home.
And now I am listening to the album ‘San Francisco Nights’ on Spotify all day long, to the point where it has begun to affect my style of clothing as well. I have to admit buying lately a lot of clothing items that match my preferred version of rockabilly-style summer clothing from Finnish online auctions… Let me know if you’d be interest for me to do a haul of what I got!
Interestingly, the original Chris Isaak song ‘Wicked Game’ was the cover hit that first brought HIM into the pop/rock charts. Hence, the circle is completed… Coincidence – I think not! Please let me know what’s the one song that has been stuck in a loop in your head (and how you got rid of it)?