ray charles - "i keep it hid" (from the complete country & western recordings, 1959-1986, available for purchase here.)
last night, a rainy spring late saturday evening, i finished roland barthes' a lover's discourse--which i suppose is only appropriate as this website has eventually become a lover's discourse (or has actually become vain, self-indulgent & lazy; i'm sorry). i can't quite summarize how it happened--it was far more than the sum of the final words of the book, the music on my headphones, the weather : more in other words than the sum of everything available to the senses--but somehow i ended up w/ the desire to do nothing more than walk about in the rain awhile, much to the amusement of the people at the windows of the coffeeshop i passed. (as i inadvertantly stepped into a giant puddle in my frayed hemp chucks, i immediately thought of gene kelly and made the most of it.)
for those who haven't read the book, why haven't you read the book? barthes, waging war against the tyranny of meaning, arranges his chapters alphabetically. throughout much of the book, it did all seem rather arbitrary--until the end. barthes perhaps realized that there was no way he could end the book w/ vérité; imagine the wrong idea the reader might get! et voilà : vouloir-saisir, which is a total showstopper.
barthes writes : "i love you is in my head, but i imprison it behind my lips." !!! it reminds me of a "single sensation of life" from a joyce short story, "araby," in which a young boy moving through a bustling saturday evening market thinking of his love feels as if he is bearing his "chalice safely through a throng of foes." anyway, i was struck so that, given my mood, i couldn't help but share this epiphany w/ another. so, literally, nothing has passed my lips--but, in reality, this is now the second time i've opened my big mouth.
this sentiment is at work in jimmy webb's "i keep it hid," here covered by ray charles. its protagonist is a fellow who sees his girl, w/ whom he split for unknown reasons; he'd love to tell her that he's still in love w/ her, still feels as he once did--only he's the sort to keep things like that hid. being the kind of guy he is (& being the kind of guy i am), though, webb has failed barthes' prescription. had he but placed this one in the desk drawer and locked it up for good, he would've remained true. of course, this isn't the kind of person the young jimmy webb was; many of his early songs refer to a "susan," his off-and-on girlfriend--and her actual name. he lived many a budding songwriter's dream : he actually had the chance to win a girl back w/ his music and fame (he didn't; she married linda ronstadt's brother).
is ray charles innocent? perhaps. he covered a number of webb tunes; he might have liked the way this number went. the way he sings it, though, i have my suspicions. even so, i can't really say for sure--but maybe there's a lady out there who knows better. & maybe b/c of this song, she was able to hear what he was otherwise unable to tell her, whatever his reason. i'd like to think that this is so, that when we hear this song we're overhearing someone's secret message to the one they love, whether it's jimmy to susan, ray to his beloved, barthes to "x," or me to you. like a lover's discourse, i hope that "i keep it hid," in its future iterations, continues to bring someone aid & comfort when they need it most.
i really, honestly do.