Lying to You- Keaton Henson

Keaton Henson

Last week I discussed Daughter’s Candles, a spellbinding song that depicts an exploitative relationship—one based on sexual pleasure rather than true human connection. Keaton Henson’s Lying to You covers similar territory. Although this time the craving for human connection is curbed with a slightly different, but just as ineffective substitute.

I can see in your eyes that you mean it
I can feel in your arms that it’s true
And though I just heard myself say it,
Baby, I’m lying to you

All of these years you’ve been lonely
And knowing not what you should do
And though you are right, I’ve been looking as well
Babe, I’m not looking for you

I’m just as damn disappointed as you,
Only I just do better to hide it
And the one thing that keeps me from falling for you,
Is I’m truly alone and I like it

As we lie in bed, I feel lonely
Though we’re young, I feel eighty years old
And your arms around me are keeping me warm
But baby, I’m still feeling cold

And, girl, you must know you are lovely
You’re kind and you’re beautiful, too
And I feel in some way I do love you
But babe, I’m not in love with you

It may seem strange that I still stay with you,
If it’s true you’re not really the one
And why don’t I just keep looking for her?
Cause I found her, but now she is gone

Henson’s fragile vocals and finger picked guitar are perfectly suited for his sobering account of a doomed relationship. From the outset, it is clear what the lie from the song’s title is. It is what Snow Patrol calls “those three words”- “I love you”. The first stanza plunges us straight into the depths of the flailing relationship- “I can see in your eyes that you mean it/ I can feel in your arms that it’s true/ And though I just heard myself say it/ Baby, I’m lying to you.” This portrayal of an embrace between lovers who are also strangers, between two who say the same words but mean different things, is truly heartbreaking. Why would someone put oneself and someone one loves (“I feel in some way I do love you”) in such a desperate position?

To answer this question we must acknowledge that the lie to the other stems from another subtler lie to oneself. In this case- “And the one thing that keeps me from falling for you, / Is I’m truly alone and I like it”. What a liberating claim! Yet the very next line laments “As we lie in bed, I feel lonely.” This doesn’t sound like the words of a person who is content living alone. Even more, why would someone who is truly happy alone carry on a relationship with anyone, let alone a person he isn’t in love with?

The danger of this lie of happy solitude is that it restrains our protagonist from coming to terms with his situation. The truth of his situation is that he is truly dependent and he doesn’t like it. Because he has not admitted this to himself, he can continue using his partner for empty company (“And your arms around me are keeping me warm/ But baby, I’m still feeling cold”) and harbor resentment towards her (“I’m just as damn disappointed as you, Only I just do better to hide it”) to mask his guilt of keeping her in such a dire position. In his attempt to quench his thirst for human connection, he only intensifies his loneliness. The song could have just as aptly been titled Lying to Myself.

Check out the song here and let me know what you think below:

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