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Sorry, everyone. Long story short: I have been dealing with major, unforeseen fatigue that my doctor can’t figure out the cause of (and so I’m scared to death about it), and I’ve had to severely limit my time in front of the computer when I get home from work. So it might be a while before I can get into the regular schedule of lyric analysis again. Sorry 😦 But I had to do this one today. I am just so sad about someone and this song fits how I feel exactly.

Title: ‘Cancel on Me’
Where to find it: ‘I Had the Blues But Shook Them Loose’ (2009, Island)
Performed by: Bombay Bicycle Club
Words by: presumably Jack Steadman

First, the words:

Verse 1
Cancel on me again,
Oh, cancel on me again.
And it’s not your fault and again,
No, it’s not your fault, you said.
Oh…

Chorus
All the world has come to see the end.
You will never see this place again.
And all the world has come to see the end.
And you will never see my face again.

Verse 2
No, it’s not your fault and again,
No, it’s not your fault, you said.
So cancel on me again.
Oh, cancel on me again.
Oh.

Chorus
All the world has come to see the end.
You will never see this place again.
And all the world has come to see the end.
And you will never see my face again.
And you will never see my face again.

Bridge
Dreaming of you pushing up to me;
And I know where it’s going to lead.
Dreaming of you rushing up to me;
And you know it’s where you want to be.
Dreaming of you pushing up to me;
And I know where it’s going to lead.
Dreaming of you rushing up to me;
That was the boy I used to be.

Outro
Yeah, I’m dreaming of you rushing,
I’m dreaming of you rushing,
I’m dreaming of you rushing up to me…

Now, the analysis:

I am a latecomer to the Bombay Bicycle Club party. After loving a few tracks from their 2009 debut ‘I Had the Blues But I Shook Them Loose’ (I adore ‘Magnet’), I kind of forgot about them after I’d heard a couple of tracks from the folky ‘Flaws’. However, having reviewed their third album ‘A Different Kind of Fix’ for TGTF, I started to look at them in a new light. Maybe they were more than just indie kids singing to teenyboppers.

The only time I’ve seen them live was this past March in DC. HELLO. Bombaymania. While Tom Jones has had his share of women’s underwear thrown at him while on stage, my guess is that Bombay Bicycle Club is not the type to have this happen. So when a bra, with a girl’s phone number written on the inside no less, was flung onstage that night, I laughed to myself. I don’t think any of them wanted to keep it as a souvenir – or at least didn’t want to be seen publicly acknowledging it. It hung on a mike stand, forgotten, after they’d left the 9:30 Club stage. Some male fan wanted it and I stopped him, complaining, “geez, let them have their first bra, ok?” Looking back at my comments now, I giggle. I could nearly sense the mortification of frontman Jack Steadman when the women’s underthing landed on stage. He must have thought, “is this really happening?” Or maybe instead, “why are they throwing bras at us? I don’t understand! This isn’t bra throwing music!”

And it’s not. To a trained ear, as well as eye, the lyrics of Bombay Bicycle Club are a bit more complex than should be reasonably assumed your average teenager would comprehend. ‘Cancel on Me’ is a perfect example of this. The civility of a man giving the woman an out, by offering to let her “cancel on me” instead of him doing the dumping or running, is refreshing and cannot be emphasised enough. But on the other side of the spectrum, you can feel the bone-crushing, aching ultimatum of Keane‘s ‘This is the Last Time’ in here in the words being repeated, “And you will never see my face again.” Their “world” is ending, and so is this “place” they had. Is he the one being sad about walking out? Or does he feel like he has to leave?

Then the next question is, why is he giving her the opportunity to “cancel” on him so he can make a break for it? We don’t know. My guess is that he’s trying to extricate himself out of a relationship probably bad for the both of them. It’s clear in the bridge, the spoken sequence in a style that has become a Steadman trademark, that he knows he’d physically respond (making out / sex / etc.) if she came up to him and flirted like she always has, because she has that effect on him – “Dreaming of you pushing up to me / And I know where it’s going to lead”. But he is also quick to note she wants to see him, wants all of this more than he does: “Dreaming of you rushing up to me / And you know it’s where you want to be.”

But Mr. Steadman’s thoughts don’t end there. There is a wistful outro of him repeating “dreaming of you rushing up to me” that I find so, so, so sad. There’s no such thing as a simple relationship; you’re invested not only your time but all of yourself in another human being when you love them. Even if things don’t work out, you know the union must end, and you do everything to make the end final, I don’t think you ever, ever forget the one you loved. There is always a little piece of that person in your heart, no matter if you fall in love again. Or not. That piece can be the most painful piece of the break-up. He knows, even if he tells her to go, to not call on him again – because he insists he won’t answer – there was a time when he loved her so very much and this time they had together, he will remember this. And even if he’s found love with someone else, there will always be times in his life when he will feel the sadness of that other relationship ending. For he knows he can only dream of her being excited to see him like she used to, he will never have that feeling of her rushing up to him again. Because it’s over.

Okay, that’s it, I’m leaving the analysis here so I don’t risk bawling my eyes out…

Lastly, the song, performed live at the People’s Party in Jakarta in January 2012.

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