7 of 69: Damn you/ I've never stayed up as late as this
"Come Back From San Francisco"
Ah, the long distance relationship. Or rather, the long distance non-relationship, since much of what I can tease from these lyrics suggests a one-way street of rueful longing. It just so happens that street runs the breadth of our entire country, from New York to San Francisco. Not a small piece of real estate, that. In either case it doesn't seem like anyone is coming back to anybody else anytime soon.
Shirley Simms sings the lyrics on the album and this generates some interesting gender confusion ("Should pretty boys in discos/ distract you from your novel" implies that either a) the singer's far away man is bisexual or b) if the person in San Francisco is a girl then the singer herself is gay or at least bisexual) since the words are carefully arranged not to give away any gender pronouns for the love object. It's always just you, you, you. I've heard that Merritt will perform the vocals in concert if Simms is not around. This smoothes out some wrinkles, if anything makes the story 'simpler' so to speak seeing as Merritt, a gay man would most likely be pining over another man.
The second most notable theme of the song is an unattractive and overwhelming inferiority complex. The singer is constantly showing how insecure and just not good enough she is. There's some wordplay here. She's not just "in love with them" she is "awful in love them." Key difference. She talks of worrying, quitting all her bad habits, being inevitably betrayed, to sum up, "Will you stay/ I don't think so." And that only if her lover comes back to her in the first place. Even the (mightily) strained metaphors imply a submissive relationship. Her object is powerfully vast like the Moon (which will carry on being a heavenly body with or without her assuming the role of its dutiful poetry) or a force of nature like the Wind (which will go on blowing through anything and everything regardless if the singer is its trees). The object of affection needs her only in so much that she enhances its already very obvious attractive qualities.
Even the soft strumming of the guitars give away the singer's true feelings. "You need me," she says, but I'm not sure even she believes that. Perhaps something with more percussion, or a more confident electronic rythym would be more convincing, more likely to change my mind. But does that mean 69LS doesn't need "Come Back from San Francisco"? Nothing of the sort. This sort of love, while perhaps unattractive, has its place. I for one, am just happy its way the hell over in New York.
grade: a "fondness" (1 out of 6)