True Love Forever, Examining the Resonance of the Teen Pop Ballad “Drivers License”
When you pull back the layers of a rubber corpse, you notice how the inorganic is so much more supple. All of those bound polymers, folds cold to the touch, inert, bouncing and lifeless, they don’t tear like real flesh.
I was listening to the SNL-made-famous Drivers License song which was like entering the morgue with gloves and goggles on, looking with clinical detachment to test the perimeters of an extracted tumor.
That teen song is a song that cries. Mariah Carey sings like that in Love Takes Time. Deborah Cox sings that way in every song. I’m sure there are countless other examples. These kinds of confessions strip away all artifice and all pretense of strength and intellectual fortitude, all defenses and numbness, tumbling head first into fear, vulnerability, and irrational need but somehow without being sycophantic or pathetic. Songs that cry are cathartic but also show strength in how they offer clarity into that primal craving for companionship and understanding aimed at a singular source.
Driver license comes on like an emotional blastoma. She’s 16. She never felt that way before.
When love is that total, you lean into that feeling and fill in all the blanks with your imagination. You panic at the thought of an ending. Love can’t end. Yet it has to.
Listening to the song I know that heart strings sometimes pull inert things. It reminds me of the feeling of talking excitedly on the phone and suddenly realizing the call has dropped but you don’t know how long you’ve been talking to yourself.
When love dies, you are left with you. Examining how you were plugging into something inside yourself when there is no other. You can look at it now calmly. Even if there is emotion just on the other side of that wall, that wall is concrete.
I have spent a few weeks having to think clinically about past loves for a book I’m writing and I’m pouring new imagination, fear, and scenarios into that rubber corpse. I’m also thinking about, with that teen song, the absolute hole a broken heart leaves no matter how the other person didn’t measure up, no matter how how old you are, and no matter how wise and sensible you’ve become.
Reminds me of the feeling of talking excitedly on the phone and suddenly realizing the call has dropped but you don’t know how long you’ve been talking to yourself.
Love has often been hypothesized as having a magical quality. You knew them in another life; you were predestined; and so on. Then the end comes and all of the reality you ignored is made plain. You might not have had much in common aside from magic. There was synchronicity and sublimity. There were holograms, mirages, and wishful thinking but fairy dust can not be biopsied. And that’s just the way it has to be.