Don’t Look At It Like It’s Forever

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I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues

Don’t wish it away
Don’t look at it like it’s forever
Between you and me I could honestly say
That things can only get better

And while I’m away
Dust out the demons inside
And it won’t be long before you and me run
To the place in our hearts where we hide

And I guess that’s why they call it the blues
Time on my hands could be time spent with you
Laughing like children, living like lovers
Rolling like thunder under the covers
And I guess that’s why they call it the blues

Just stare into space
Picture my face in your hands
Live for each second without hesitation
And never forget I’m your man

Wait on me girl
Cry in the night if it helps
But more than ever I simply love you
More than I love life itself

Elton John
Too Low for Zero, 1983

I had an attack of sappiness last night, induced no less, by the great piano-pounding, a-thousand-and-one-spectacles, sequins-abusive Elton John. You heard right; I gave in to some schmaltziness. That’s the reason for the entire song being plastered up there.

If you were like me, lucky to have come of age in the 80s, you wouldn’t have missed the video of this song. Remember that dance hall, the swishy skirts of the women, their permed hair and single-shade red lipstick, the dapper young men, the shiny shoes, the crisp white suits? Oh, poor you if you have no memory of this one. I remember thinking then, that song is so sad, and yet so full of promise. It said to me, life should be lived like a series of dance hall encounters—dance as though each dance is the last one. Dance as though all the men are going off to war. Sway, woman, sway.

I mean, who could resist those lines: ‘Don’t wish it away, don’t look at it like it’s forever.’ Those lines, they stirred a sense of urgency in me. It shook you out of the doldrums, sped you on to living, spurred you to jump in and love like there is no tomorrow. Never mind forever, now is where you should be. It was a heady concept for me, in the throes of adolescence. I felt as though I was entrusted with a vital secret. I felt drunk, woozy, and inexplicably wise, all at once. Pretty potent, huh?

And it’s not even a true blues song; it’s more of a two-step, pseudo big band tune. Almost like a ditty, dangerously close to cloying. ‘Just stare into space, picture my face in your hands.’ That’s where it gets dicey, but ah, that Elton, he makes up for it when he goes back to

‘And I guess that’s why they call it the blues,
Time on my hands could be time spent with you.
Laughing like children, living like lovers
Rolling like thunder under the covers.’

That mad tinkling of the piano, the two-step rhythm of the drums, the wheeze of maybe a sly harmonica in there; the song is a musical score to a gone time. A time inhabited by clean-shaven gentlemen clasping pretty ladies at the waist and twirling them elegantly around. It’s something to be giddy about. There was a promise whispered there, in the imagined rustle of skirts, the soft, powdered cheek pressed to shoulder. It was a secret thrill for a young girl not yet fully aware of the world, but eager to discover.

To be told, ‘I simply love you, more than I love life itself,’ why, that’s a wondrous thing. It is, isn’t it? I would like to be loved like that, yes I would.


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