Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tuesday Tune: "Changing Your Mind" by Bob Schneider

Bob Schneider is a wildly unpredictable artist and measuring the quality of his songs (and the delivery thereof) can resemble the outline of the Cyclone at Coney Island.  The same man who brought us the popular speed-singing romantic ballad "40 Dogs (Like Romeo and Juliet)" also grated our ears with the drinking song "The Sons of Ralph."  He's funk, he's rock, he's Calypso, he's white-man rap.  He's the Baskin-Robbins of the music world.

With the release of 2009's Lovely Creatures, however, he delivered one of his most consistent albums (at least as far as quality is concerned--there are still plenty of diverse genres to please discriminating ears).  In addition to "40 Dogs," Lovely Creatures features "Bicycle Vs. Car," "Tarantula," and "Bombananza."  But the song which has stuck with me, and has earned a coveted spot on my Rewind-and-Replay list, is "Changing Your Mind."

Like the other Tuesday Tunes I've selected this year, it's a Polaroid snapshot of male anguish in the wake of a breakup.  Here's a guy who's confounded by the fact that he's staring at his lover's taillights disappearing up the road.  For some reason, even though I have a healthy, happy marriage, I'm drawn to these moments of anguish when male hearts are crushed. Could it have something to do with the years 1977-1982, when my heart was consistently flayed open by romantic rejection?  Possibly and probably.
What's so funny is nobody's laughing
at this change of heart you're having.
What's so funny is I'm filled up with thunder,
I can't seem to get out from under
all these stones you tied to my chest.

I can't change your mind.
I can't change your mind. 
What's so funny is I'm scared and lonely,
and I don't think that I'm the only one
as I watch you drive away.
And what's so funny is the birds are singing,
sun is shining, and the bells are ringing
and I'm thinking, "What happened here?"
"Changing Your Mind" takes on even more depth with the addition of Patty Griffin, whose voice interweaves with Schneider on the chorus.  Both partners in the relationship are complaining/accusing that they can't change the other's mind.  With the counterbalance of the female perspective, it becomes one of the most beautiful sad songs I've ever heard.

I can't help but get a Raymond Carver vibe every time I listen to it.  Think "A Serious Talk" and "Why Don't You Dance?"--or any one of a half-dozen other moments of capitulation between a man and a woman in Carver's short fiction.  "Changing Your Mind" could easily be a soundtrack to many of the stories in What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.  I'm also reminded of Carver by the seemingly abrupt way the song ends:
There's a werewolf out on my front lawn
and he's looking pissed off
and he's wet from all the rain.
I think I'll go say hi,
and offer him a beer.
If I was a crying man, I'd be weeping at the thought of man and beast sharing a rain-soaked brew as they moan and mumble about lost loves.

Give a listen: