“Lover, You Should’ve Come Over” by Jeff Buckley

Song of the Week

Jeff Buckley released his album Grace in 1994. This exquisite album is one of love, loss and navigating everything in between. Grace didn’t get traction on the charts initially because of Buckley’s refusal to subject himself to the constraints of a 3 minute radio play window. This didn’t stop the album’s inevitable rise to success for long. Tragically, Buckley suffered a sudden death in 1997 before he could ever write more than one studio album. That day we lost some breathtaking songs in the making. I chose this song for song of the week because I genuinely think it’s one of the most well composed pieces of music I’ve listened to. “Lover, You Should’ve Come Over” is a desperate call to the girl he loves to come home. He expresses such a common human experience of needing someone but having no power to be with them. His voice is so honest and unmatched. There is only one Jeff Buckley.

An organ elegantly introduces the listener to the story’s opening scene of Buckley looking out over a funeral procession. “Looking out the door I see the rain / Fall upon the funeral mourners / Parading in a wake of sad relations / As their shoes fill up with water.” He mumbles the dripping words over a somber guitar. This scene is a metaphor for Buckley’s failed relationship. He’s watching his relationship die and there is nothing he can do to stop it. The shoes filling with water describes him emotionally standing his ground. He’s drowning in more and more pain as his unwillingness to change his heart continues. This broken heart hurts differently then the others.

Funeral Skies 6” by Enric Martinez is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

A sultry riff drives the song forward. He extracts all the emotion from every word. “Maybe, I’m too young / Too keep good love from going wrong / but tonight you’re on my mind / … / Broken down and hungry for your love / With no way to feed it / Where are you tonight … / You know how much I need it.” Buckley does this magic, he has this flow of thought throughout his music like you’re casually speaking with him. He tries to blame his youth for this unbearable knot in his stomach. Maybe if he was older and more mature it would have worked out. Young people have this idealized view of love as adults being solid and easy. That is merely a romantic notion because love is commitment and work no matter how old you are. This battle with maturity is a recurring theme throughout the song. If he can blame his youth then there’s a reason other then his own mistakes. He tussles with the thought of it being all his fault. Shouldn’t his eternal love for her be enough? Maybe, it was his immaturity because according to Buckley, she was perfect.

This next line stands out above the rest simply by its transformative nature. “Too young to hold on / And too old to just break free and run.” If he loves her hard enough she’ll have to run back to him, right? He tortures himself, thinking over and over again about what went down, expecting a different result. He’s young, he shouldn’t hold onto commitment the way an adult would. He’s old enough though to know that he’ll regret running away. There’s only so long the chaotic distraction of growing up is enough to cloud out vulnerability. Shouldn’t he love his wild freedom more than her? How do you live on without the thing you love most? His mind spirals between wishing away her potency and knowing he can never let go.

It takes him a while to get there but he finally admits he wants to change. He’s the one that caused himself this unimaginable pain. “Sometimes a man gets carried away / When he feels like he should be having his fun / And much too blind to see the damage he’s done / Sometimes a man must awake to find that really, he has no-one.” Buckley points to the fact that this evolution into manhood is something many struggle with. He took her for granted like a lot of us do with the things and people we get used to having around. It’s easy to forget that it’s even a possibility to have a life without them in it. Admitting to the mistakes you’ve made and the pain you’ve caused others is a strong step forward many hesitate to take. The guilt can be overwhelming but once you’re there you know it’s the only path to redemption. The realization of future loneliness is the push that got Buckley to take that step.

File:Граффитти Jeff Buckley. Revisited. Россия, Октябрьский, 2015.jpg” by Romchikthelemon is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

The expression of longing and loyalty continues as he abandons all hope of accepting the loss. “So I’ll wait for you, and I’ll burn / … / Oh lover, you should’ve come over / Cause It’s not too late.” He’s punishing himself with prolonged grief. If he can make himself hurt as much as she hurt then they might be even. I love the way these lines simplify a complex idea. Drama has a way of filling up your head with so much noise you can’t see through it. He finds a way to say let’s just drop everything and start over because love is all that matters. He thinks her mind is cooking up catastrophe and whispering that he gave up on her when in reality that’s the farthest thing from the truth. For him it’ll never be too late because he’s still in this forever, even if he has to be in it alone. He refuses to stop loving her.

His revealing imagery sketches a lightless scene of a trapped man. He can barely get the raw words out as he sings. “Lonely is the room, the bed is made / The open window lets the rain in / … / My body turns and yearns / For a sleep that won’t ever come.” The lyrical imagery does a brilliant job of metaphorically saying, I’m demolished by my breakdown in your absence. We’ve all been in that room once or twice. He’s in so much misery he doesn’t even bother to close the window or try to sleep. The pain feels like it will never end. Sometimes, mental anguish is so all consuming there isn’t room for anything else.

His conviction crescendos in his lyrics ruthless repetition. “It’s never over /My kingdom for a kiss upon her shoulder.” His tortured words stick to you like a knife in the chest. He calls out to her, “It’s never over / All my blood for the sweetness of her laughter.” This line is so precious and true you know he means every word. This man is in love. He’d give up anything. He can finally see it now. She is the only thing that mattered and the only thing that ever will matter. He begs for her with undying devotion. “It’s never over / She’s the tear that hangs inside my soul forever.” If he can’t get her back it will be a sadness he carries around for the rest of his life.

This entire album is for anyone with a broken heart or trying to fight off the pain of missing the one. Buckley gets personal and invites us all into his most vulnerable thoughts so we all know it’s not crazy to want someone so bad it hurts. It’s okay if you need a transformative moment to make things right. It’s possible even for the roughest rock stars. Realizing your part in your repeated mistakes is the only way to fix them and it’s something we all go through eventually. In the end, You’re never too young to fall in love if you’re willing to fight for it.

That’s what I think! Comment what the song means to you!

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