Let her cry? Make her cry!
A couple years ago I was in a used CD shop and came across a copy of Cracked Rear View by Hootie and the Blowfish. This album was all the rage back when I was in 8th grade. I remember my father bought me the cassette for Christmas, and it was all I ever listened to in my oversized 80s-style Walkman, over and over and over again. But I don’t know what ever became of it. I assume that, because it was even then fast becoming an archaic piece of music technology, I threw it out or otherwise lost it. So I bought the CD for a little nostalgia, 8th-grade style. It’s one of the CDs I always take with me when I go on road trips.
I was talking to a girl (which was itself eventful enough, right?), but I was talking to a girl about the song “Let Her Cry,” and she was saying it was such a great song because everybody could relate to it. Umm, I couldn’t. This is a pretty stupid reason not to be able to relate to a song, but at the time it came out I had a crush on a blond girl, so the line 30 seconds in that goes “I run my hands through her dark hair” sort of ended any ability on my part to relate to it. That’s wrong, Darius. She has blond hair. Blond, I tell you! I tried fixing the lyric in my head to correspond with reality (or rather, “reality”), but it just wasn’t cutting it. I simply lacked the intellectual acumen to make the appropriate adjustment. Sad for me.
But the real reason I couldn’t relate to this song was because I had no clue what it was about. Seriously. At the time I thought maybe it was because I was just a stupid 8th grader, but now with the benefit of 11 years of higher education (and, presumably, corresponding intellectual growth) I’m still fuzzy on what’s going on, exactly. “Let her cry, if the tears fall down like rain.” What if they don’t? Should I tell her to knock if off? “Let her sing, if it eases all her pain.” What it doesn’t? Should I tell her to shut up? Admittedly I am misreading these lyrics, interpreting them as ONLY IF it eases all her pain.
The lyric I have a real problem with is in the second verse: “I wanted to look for you / You walked in, I didn’t know what I should do / So I sat back down, and / Had a beer, and / Felt sorry for myself.” I don’t get that. That’s like saying, “I really wanted a Ferrari and my parents got me one, so I threw a pity-fest.” The other problem I have is how the audience changes. Sometimes he’s singing TO the girl (see above), sometimes he’s singing ABOUT the girl, and in the chorus he magically transforms into a personal relationship coach for me, the listener (ie, let her cry, let her leave). It’s the most schizophrenic song I’ve ever heard.
Anyway, if I applied the English major skillz I picked up in my 11 extra years of education, I’d take a stab and say the song is about being trapped in a bad relationship, or, more generally, wanting to be with someone even when the best thing you could do is let them go. And if that’s the case, I guess, yes, in fact, I can relate to that. But I wish it was more explicit. This is why I like boyband music. It’s simple. “Over and over I fall / When I hear you call / Without you in my life, baby / I just wouldn’t be living at all.” See, I get that. I know what JC’s singing about. Best of all, I don’t need a fucking decoder ring or the goddam Enigma to decipher it.