"Aside," Weakerthans

Weakerthans (song available from theweakerthans.org)

Measure me in metered lines,
in one decisive stare,
the time it takes to get from here to there.
My ribs that show through t-shirts
and these shoes I got for free;
I’m unconsoled
I’m lonely I am
so much better than I used to be.

Terrified of telephones
and shopping malls and knives,
and drowning in the pools of other lives.
Rely a bit too heavily
on alcohol and irony.
Get clobbered on by courtesy,
in love with love and lousy poetry.

And I’m leaning on this broken fence
between past and present tense.
And I’m losing
all those stupid games
that I swore I’d never play.
But it almost feels okay.

Circumnavigate this body
of wonder and uncertainty.
Armed with every precious failure,
and amateur cartography,
I breathe in deep before
I spread those maps out on my bedroom floor.

And I’m leaning on this broken fence
between past and present tense.
And I’m losing
all those stupid games
that I swore I’d never play.

But it feels okay
and I’m leaving: Wave goodbye.
And I’m losing, but I’ll try,
with the last ways left,
to remember [to] sing
my imperfect offering.


I always wonder about these speakers with which popular music presents us : Am I the person in the song, speaking? And what about the billion other people who think they’re the speaker, and see their lives reflected in these words?

I mean, that’s the thing about older sorts of poetry versus modern forms of expression: in reconstructing the speaker by working through the details, we’re creating a whole person whom we can relate to, but cannot be. Whereas the temptation with some of these songs is to think “I’m him/her, that’s my life exactly.” One reason why I really like the Weakerthans, though, is that they don’t shy away from presenting us with more complicated speakers. Left and Leaving was a masterpiece in that regard.

In any case, why have I brought up this song? It’s the usual story, after all, of someone wondering where they are after a broken relationship. I mean, we only hear this story 30,000 times a day. I guess I’m just bringing it up because I really hadn’t paid any attention to those last few lines about trying to leave until very recently – the part where you’re forcing yourself to “wave goodbye,” where you’re saying “I’m losing,” and mumbling to yourself stuff about “wonder” and how “this is better than I used to be” and then finally just giving “offerings,” the only wonder being if you can get back together.

Or maybe I’m bringing it up because of the map imagery, the idea that we just get lost in ourselves and are trying to get the past in an order which makes some sense, trying to do that because we really want to know the future and where we’re going.

I dunno. The ultimate irony of these lyrics involves the words “stupid games.” The song is titled “aside,” the speaker feels he is an aside, and one wonders if these murmurings too should be thrown aside. In one sense, they shouldn’t be: I wish more people could describe their experiences this richly, as it would make the 40,000 times a day I hear this story and the 50,000 times a day I tell it more interesting. And in another sense, they shouldn’t be: it’s easy to talk about that fence between past and present tense. Lots of people just want to say they’re stuck in that area, and want to say they’re losing, and that’s all there is. What’s nice about our speaker is that he may be stuck, but he’s trying.


  1. I loved this – FANTASTIC lyrics, great riff.
    Loved your thoughts as well. You really show us that there’s so much more to it than, how you described it as, ‘a broken relationship’.
    Thanks for this!

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