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It’s the new year, but here’s a quick recap from me: I’ve been super busy with a working trip to Australia the week of my birthday – to cover the inaugural ARIA Week, including working the red carpet and media room at the 26th ARIAs (the Australia equivalent to the BRITs and Grammys – and plenty of work on SXSW previews, including this first piece on the pop and pop hybrid UK acts showcasing at the big event in Austin this year. WHEW.

With so many things on my mind, I’ve had little in the way of free time to sit down and write, so I think to continue this site, I better just shorten my descriptions and get rolling. I’ll also be premiering new features on this site later this week, so stay tuned for those as well.

Morrissey is probably my most favourite songwriter because the words he uses are so cutting, yet hit home and are usually so on point. You can turn on ‘Everyday is Like Sunday’ and feel wistful about blighty.

Unusually, I learned of Morrissey’s solo work first (through a now ex-boyfriend), then the Smiths, not the other way around. I’ve seen Morrissey numerous times, having seen him in DC 3 times, Manchester 3 times during a particularly exciting (for me) weekend on his ‘Ringleader of the Tormentors’ tour, and once in London the week after the Manchester weekender. Most of those gigs are chronicled here.

Title: ‘I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris’
Where to find it: ‘Years of Refusal’ (2009, Decca)
Performed by: Morrissey
Words by: Morrissey

First, the words:

“Verse” 1
In the absence of your love
And in the absence of human touch
I have decided

I’m throwing my arms around
Around Paris because only stone and steel accept my love

“Verse” 2
In the absence of your smiling face
I traveled all over the place
and I have decided

I’m throwing my arms around
Around Paris because only stone and steel accept my love
I’m throwing my arms around
Around Paris because only stone and steel accept my love

I’m throwing my arms around Paris because
Nobody wants my love
Nobody wants my love
Nobody needs my love
Nobody wants my love

Yes, you made yourself plain
Yes, you made yourself very plain…

Now, the analysis:

This is actually a very simple song structurally. The verses are only 2 lines each before Steven shoots straight off into the chorus, which on the surface sounds like a happy, pop sentiment. But with Morrissey, we all know all is not fine and dandy. No, he’s telling us how badly he’s hurting from being spurned by someone he loves very much who can’t love him in return. It’s a hallmark of Morrissey’s songwriting: ‘Nobody Loves Us’, “Let Me Kiss You’, ‘I Am Hated for Loving’.

Most of the time, Steven puts it out there that his capacity for loving another human being is not being rewarded. In this song, he is forced instead to love something entirely large but inanimate as an entity: a whole city. First examine the line from the chorus “only stone and steel accept my love”: both of these things do not feel like another person, yet he’s so full of love, he’s willing to give it all to these things in the entity of Paris, because he feels so strongly that he so desperately wants to share with someone.

There is also the switch off from “nobody wants my love” to one time of “nobody needs my love”. I find this incredibly exciting, how changing one single word can change the whole feeling of the outro. A “want” is entirely different than a “need”; this particularly reminds of one of many arguments that I had with the aforementioned ex-boyfriend when we were still going together. We would be on the phone and I would say, “I need you…” in a desperate plea when he was cross with me about something we had a row about. The words coming out of my mouth and into his ear on the other end only infuriated him more, him replying, “I don’t want you to ‘need’ me, I want you to ‘want’ me. I want a woman who can stand on her own two feet.” This hurt me so badly because I’ve had to work so hard for everything in my life and saying that I couldn’t stand on my own two feet was the most disparaging of comments. (I do admit though that during the time I was with J, I was undergoing chemotherapy at the time and was suffering from terrible self-worth issues after losing my hair, so I was more vulnerable and more willing to go more than halfway in order to maintain our relationship.) Ever since we broke up years ago, I have been having trouble balancing the need and want for a lover, something that Morrissey alludes to in this song in a veiled way. I don’t fall in love very easily, and I have only fallen truly in love with two men in the last 10 years.

I don’t know what the personality defect is in me. Maybe it has to do with being unable to find someone that think will accept me for who I am: a woman in many respects, with an eye on responsibility, perfectionism, and complete honesty, but also a girl who has suffered so many setbacks in her life that she still wishes for the perfect relationship. It’s an odd combination that I would be the first to agree isn’t solid basis for 99% of relationships. Unfortunately. “Yes, you’ve made yourself plain / yes, you’ve made yourself very plain…” is particularly cutting to me, since Morrissey sounds like he’s written himself out of the game, either to save his own face, or because his lover has come right out and said, “I don’t want to be with you.” When you’ve made any sort of emotional investment in anyone in the midst of a relationship, this is pretty much the most painful thing you can hear. Will it send you into a spiral of depression? Most probably.

Before I leave you, I did want to note how the beginning of the song is interesting too; it sounds like a motorbike starting. This doesn’t make sense unless you were a Morrissey fan, as in the Noughties, there was a famous photo floating around of Morrissey leaning on a motorbike (which, unfortunately, I can’t find easily right now); he never had a song like Manic Street Preachers‘ ‘Motorcycle Emptiness’ famously naming the chic vehicle in a title, but putting the sound in at the start is a nice touch.

Lastly, the song, from its official promo video. Why the whole video has a bunch of dogs in it, we’ll never know. Maybe it’s a general commentary that former lovers are dogs?