Saturday, November 01, 2003

Viva TLC

I've listened to TLC's "Waterfalls" a dozen times in the last few days. I've liked it from when I first heard it on the radio, almost ten years ago, but the other day I put it on my mp3 player, and I find myself listening to it again and again.

It's weird how a song can be so dark and yet so groovy and tuneful at the same time. In case you don't know it, it's about feeling helpless when compulsive, addictive behavior kills people you love. This has happened to way too many people I care about, and that's probably why I find the song so moving and upsetting.

The hook, "Don't go chasing waterfalls / Please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you're used to," used to bother me. I found this too clumsy a metaphor for addiction or anything else, and I'm still not exactly sure what it means. But all these years later, I find an honesty in the hook that appeals to me. It makes me think of when people say, "Words fail me." Sometimes we are so overcome that our feelings don't make sense to us, and that just might make us, yes, use a clumsy metaphor to try to describe them.

I just looked up the words to the late Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes' rap near the end of the song. Lopes describes addiction as succinctly as I've heard anyone describe it, especially the qualities of addiction that make some people call it a family disease: "Who's to blame for tootin' 'caine into your own vein / What a shame, you shoot and aim for someone else's brain."

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