11. I Can't Stay Away From You - Gloria Estefan
Not technically a song about stalking, it nevertheless possesses many of the same characteristics; "Anything for you, though you're not here. Since you've said we're through, it seems like years...I can pretend each time I see you, that I don't care and I don't need, and though you'll never see me cryin', you know inside I feel like dyin'... I hope you find someone to please you, someone who cares and never leaves you. But if that someone ever hurts you, you just might need a friend to turn to..." Within a few lines she seems to have accepted her fate, and then the next moment she's plotting how she can get back into the picture. I'm baaaaack! Both the monster in the horror flick and the stalker have an incredibly terrifying way of coming back from the dead. Not exactly the type of rational consistent thinking that you're looking for in a lady. In the song I Can't Stay Away From You (same song, different title; which is another sign of obsession, disguises and repetition); "Look over your shoulder/ I'll be there. You can count on me to say. But I can't stay away from you/ I don't want to let you go/ And though it's killing me that's true/ There's just some things I can't control... I know you're telling me the truth/ I know it's just no use/ But I can't stay away from you..." You'd better stay away from me, woman, or I'm calling 5-0! A little advice for men and women who want to win back a love: you don't do it by desperately pleading with them to love you! These people remind me of the Jim Carrey character in the movie Dumb and Dumber, especially when he asks the Lauren Holly character if there is a chance that they might get together. She responds by saying that there is about a one and a million chance that this could happen. To this rhetorical face palm, he replies enthusiastically; "So you're telling me there's a chance..." When it comes to groveling and begging people to love you, a "one in million" chance is proabably far too generous an estimation. Indeed, once you have that smell of desperation about you, it is quite difficult to get the stench of loser off of you. Moreover, Ms. Estefan describes the man's disaffection for her as something which is "killing her", and then she also adds that "inside she feels like dying". And though she doesn't mention suicide per se, the fact that she twice resorts to mentioning death could suggest some form of emotional blackmail, which is always part and parcel of the stalker's play book.
10. I Found Out About You - The Gin Blossoms
This particular song is about the profound humiliation that one feels, not only when one is cheated on, but when one discovers that they are the last to know. Understandably, this can create all sorts of conspiracy theories in the mind of the one who is prone to stalking. As it relates to the subject here, the one who was cheated on has no doubt spent a considerable amount of time imagining how this deception went down; "Whispers at the bus stop/ Nights out in the school yard/ I found out about you..." The last verse in the song is a veritable compendium of what a stalker might do (and think) when once he finds himself on the outside of a relationship (incidentally, no matter what the circumstances, the stalker always believes himself to be on the outside of things, which is why he/she can't ever be in a lasting relationship). "Street lights blink on through the car window/I hear the time too often on an AM radio/ Well, you know it's all I think about/ I write your name/ Drive past your house. Your boyfriend's over/ I watch the lights go out..." In spite of the fact that the ideas in this final verse seem more or less inchoate, they make a certain poetic sense when placed in the psyche of the stalker who is going out of his mind with jealousy. Another common characteristic of the stalker is a kind of repetitive childish narcissism (viz. "I write your name/ Drive past your house"). Indeed, it is somewhat reminiscent of the scene in the movie The Shining where the lead character, played by Jack Nicholson, also seems unwilling, or rather unable to let go of certain repetitive tendencies (see above).
9. Maniac - Michael Sembello
Taken from the soundtrack to the movie Flashdance, this song was in fact originally about a stalker; "He's a maniac, maniac that's for sure/He will kill your cat and nail him to the door." The subject matter of the song was inspired by a movie of the same title, which was about a killer in New York City who stalked his victims. However, when he received an offer to appear on the soundtrack of the movie, they were more than happy to change the stalking maniac into a dancing one; "It can cut you like a knife (I wonder what this originally related to?), if the gift becomes the fire. On a wire between will and what will be. She's a maniac, maniac on the floor, and she's dancing like she's never danced before." What is most fascinating to me is the fact that you can turn a song about a serial killer who stalks his victims into a song about a young woman who is wildly passionate about dancing without ever changing the title and only slightly altering the songs lyrics. Perhaps there is some lesson to be learned here about how the only thing that really separates a success story and a serial killer is the end to which they channel their "maniacal" passions.
8. Eye in the Sky - The Alan Parsons Project
7. Into the Night - Benny Mardones
6. Sweet Caroline - Neil Diamond
If you are ever looking for a little insta-karaoke, all you need to do is crank up a little "Sweet Caroline" in the middle of a crowded room and then the next thing you know out of nowhere people will put their arms around each other and start belting out "BA BA BA" at various intervals. At some point in the last decade or so this song has turned into an anthem of sorts, one in which people feel no qualms at all about singing along together like some kind of unexpected flash mob. Nevertheless, if I were to change the words in such a way so as to accurately depict from whence the orginal inspiration came, you might get a slightly different reaction; "Where it begin/ I was watching TV one day/ And I saw Caroline Kennedy's 11 year-old daughter there. And for whatever reason/ I got inspired to write a love song about her/ Now I've just ruined the song for good. Warm, touchin' warm/ reachin' out/ touchin' me, touchin' you. Sweet Caroline good times never seemed so good... that is until the Secret Service were tipped off and arrested me for writing this messed up ballad about the president's daughter... BA BA BA!" I can only hope that it was her purity and innocence that initally inspired the song, and only later did it become a song about "warm, touchin' warm", and nights that are "filled up with only two".
5. Animotion - Obsession
4. Every Breath You Take - The Police
When we think of stalking we generally envision some man or woman harassing and/or threatening some unrequited lover. In the case of "Stan", it is more the case of a man-crush gone terribly wrong. The lyrics detail a series of letters that are sent to Eminem by his "biggest" fan, but when this fan receives no immediate response from the object of his affection, his letters become progressively threatening and violent. Interestingly enough, Eminem was inspired to write this song when he heard a composition by a relatively unknown artist by the name of Dido. The song was called "Thank you" (which later became a hit in its own right), a delightful little ballad about offering encouragement in the face of life's little disappointments. However, when Eminem heard the first verse, something very different occurred to him; "Tea's gone cold I wonder why I got out of bed at all. The morning rain clouds up my window and I can't see at all/ And even if I could it would all be gray/ But your picture on my wall/ It reminds me that's it not so bad..." Once again we come face to face with how short of a leap it is between devotion and craziness. Obsession mimics many of the same things that love does ("put your picture on my wall..."). What is missing in the mind of a stalker when it comes to a relatioship is that fundamental notion of freedom that must exist between the two, without which love is not "love" at all. If there is no respect for the other person's freedom, then infatuation quickly becomes Fatal Attraction. The obsessed party is always idealizing the one he loves to the point of delusion. And so when that object of affection fails to respond in accordance with their grandiose dreams, the deluded one cracks along with his dreams. In extreme cases, as depicted in this song, the individual will even begin to threaten to harm the person (or themselves) they claim to love, hoping that they can somehow coerce them into responding the way that they wanted them to in the first place. Indeed, how futile their position, for they want to force the other individual to love them freely. There is nothing wrong with a little hero worship as long as the one engaging in it doesn't imagine that the "hero" is capable of doing what only God can do; namely filling the void that is in their soul. Sadly, these situations don't generally end well. Either they in end in the death of the performer (as was the case with the singer Selena), or what is more typical, they end with the one who is obsessed taking his (or her) own life.
2. Crash - The Dave Matthew's Band
When first one hears the beautiful instrumentation of this next song, one cannot help but to expect to hear an exquisite love ballad. Heck, as beautiful as the music is, all you would really need to do is tease a few phrase out about the woman's hair, eyes, nose hairs, whatever. But no, Dave Matthews had to write a song about a Peeping Tom creeping around some woman's house and leering at her through the window; "In a boy's dream/Oh I watch you there through the window and I stare at you/ And you wear nothing and you wear it so well. Tied up and twisted the way I like to be/ For you, for me/ Come crash into me." Well isn't that special! In some ways that isn't even the worst of the lyrics, but that is about all I really care to repeat. I suppose there is something highly appropriate about the fact that the peeping Tom is regarded as a kind of perverse adolescent in the song, for oftentimes individuals who succumb to these kind of infatuations have the psycho-sexual mentality of a middle-schooler. Indeed, he spoken of as if he were some thirteen year old kid gawking at some nude images of some woman on the internet. At any rate, what the Dave Matthews Band does to this lovely melody is ultimately what all perversity does- it takes something that is pure and wholesome, and completely chokes and defile what originally was quite good and innocent. You can be sexual without being exploitive, but a song cannot be sexually exploitive and remain in any way romantic. The only way that that can be the case is if you ignore the lyrics as well as blog posts like this that ruin songs for you. OK, one more line; "I'm the king of the castle/ You're the dirty rascal..." Wow.
1. Possession - Sarah McLachlan
What other song would be number #1 on this list but the one that actually contains real poetry from a stalker? The double connotation of the title only makes the listening experience all the more unsettling; "And I would be the one to hold you down/ Kiss you so hard/ I'll take your breath away/ And after I'd wipe away the tears/ Close your eyes dear." Certainly once you understand what this song is about it brings a dark significance to the words and phrases in the song that would otherwise be dismissed as hyperbole. Hmmm, why is he holding her down again? What does he mean when he says that he will take her breath away? And wait a second, did you say that she was crying? Um, why is she crying? All of these lyrics might have a normal explanation in the context of normal love, but in the face of abnormal love, they take on a whole new meaning. Likewise when you talk about "possessing" someone in the context of genuine love, there is nothing disturbing about what it means for two people to give themselves entirely in the context of matrimony. They belong to each other. However, possession in the darkest sense is a form of physical, psychological, or spiritual hostage taking. The most extreme example of this can be seen in Satanic possession, wherein the person is so utterly "possessed", or taken over, that there is no longer any "they" there to respond (or at least they are so utterly taken over that they are not at liberty to express themselves). And that's the point in the end. The stalker really is not so much interested in the one that they are stalking as they are in projecting themselves onto and into that person. Thus, it makes perfect sense then that when Ms. McLachlan released this album, her stalker sued her for $350, 000, and the opportunity to do an interview with her where they "discussed the lyrics to the song." So much for a stalker's integrity, right? Notice, he is not interested in so much meeting Ms. McLachlan as he is in talking about the words he wrote to/about her. Me, Me, Me. In some way, I do think that he captures the romance of hell quite well in all this. The Satanic impulse thrives on eternal separateness, and the idea, not the reality, of getting what you want. The true fulfillment of this romance is to never be filled at all; "Listen out your window, from across the great divide/ Voices trapped in yearning/ Memories trapped in time/ The night is my companion/ Solitude my guide/ Would I wait forever here and not be satisfied?" One final key to the stalker's delusional behavior is isolation. The man who spends too much time by himself can create his own world as he sees it. The problem is once he is confronted by reality, which has a way of disagreeing with our own version of it, such individuals may either be provoked to violence, or they may retreat even further into the dark cave of unreality; "into the sea of waking dreams I follow without pride/ 'Cause nothing stands between us here/ And I won't be denied." Sadly, this "sea of waking dreams" did lead to violence, though not towards Ms. McLachlan. Shortly before the case was to come to trial, the crazed fan, Uwe Vandrei, killed himself, a tragic reminder of what such isolation and unreality can lead to.