The Heart I Know By Heart

By Nathan Payne | pablosmoglives | 31 May 2024


"I fell into a burning ring of fire
I went down, down, down
And the flames went higher"
Johnny Cash

 

I have a theory about love songs.  It isn't chiseled into stone, but it might be chiseled into chocolate.  It's edible.  You can melt it down and eat it if you like.  The theory states that any song that claims to be a love song, but doesn't address the feeling of the elevator dropping out from under your heart and sending your soul careening into hell, is disingenuous pap that's trying to sell you something.  At best, a professing love song that doesn't embrace the hellfire inherent in the moment is a work of cowardice, declaring the enslavement of the writer to his or her emotions.  Such a piece of writing is not the work of someone you want to be with.  If they're not willing to face the abyss with you, who are they?  Stuffed animals?  Sex dolls?  Self-interested narcissists who need an object upon which they may project their personality and power?

All of the above?

"The Heart I Know By Heart" was written in Brackenridge Park in San Antonio.  I was living in my van, and familiarizing myself with the local scene.  I didn't get very far.  I like San Antonio, but it wasn't meant to be.  Circumstances drove me farther west after only a month or so.  I was still a drinker at the time, so I was sitting in the Make My Day Lounge with the chick who inspired the song.  We were waiting for the open mic, and it was the 2nd-shortest amount of time I ever spent in a bar.  Some lo-fi, white-trash drama was playing out among the other patrons, and we decided not to stay.  The Make My Day Lounge was living up to its name, and since we weren't dressed appropriately for such an establishment, wearing clean clothes as we were, we decided to leave.

It isn't really interesting.  It's not much of a story.

The point is that "The Heart I Know By Heart" is obviously a love song, since it embraces the exquisite, burning pain of love.  It's not the least-appropriate soundtrack for the scene from Miracle Mile in which the bombs explode, since the lovers evacuate the elevator to hell in favor of the doomed helicopter, in an attempt to save their lives.  The scene is like a metaphor for love, with its madman on the roof, the smoky air, and incoming nuclear warheads.  Is that what love is all about?  Madness, smoke, and death?  Surely not, but it is called "falling in love," not "skipping gleefully on wings of freedom in love," after all.  No one ever said that they "flew away" in love, but rather, that they fell.

"I fell into a burning ring of fire," indeed.

I had to change the last chorus, though, from "off to hell we'll probully go," to "off to hell we'll never go."  I've seen people in the audience misunderstand the infernal horror of the bliss of love as expressed in "The Heart I Know By Heart" in real time, clearly reveling in the idea that "off to hell we'll probully go."  Apparently they've never been in love, and actually want to go to hell.  May God have mercy on their souls.  I didn't change the last chorus for their benefit, or as a response to them; it was written that way originally, because I'm not going to hell.  I've skipped off the surface of the lake of fire like a flat, idiotic stone, and am blessed to have made it across to the other shore. 

I'm not doing it again.

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The videos above are the best recorded version of the song; this one is the "easy listening" version, recorded when I didn't have a band.  The recording was an instant disappointment, but I still like it.  It's nowhere near as bad as some of the other disappointments in my discography.

Thanks for listening.

The Heart I Know By Heart

Once upon a forgotten time
before I was yours
and you were mine
and everything was fine
you were the heart I knew by heart

Who knew that someday we would meet
and sweep the swine
off their feet?
You're sexy and you're sweet
you're the heart I know by heart

A hundred million years from now
I will still wonder how
it happened that I actually found
the heart I know by heart

All the times that I've been down
submerged but unable to drown
swimming all the way to Boston town
to find the heart I know by heart

     Hey yo
     hey yo
     off to hell we'll probably go!
     the only thing I'll ever know
     you're the heart I know by heart

I love the way you shake your wreath
I love the way you gnash your teeth
from way ahead
to far beneath
you're the heart I know by heart

And all I wanna do
is make love to you
everything you say is true
you're the heart I know by heart

     Hey yo
     hey yo
     off to hell we'll probably go!
     the only thing I'll ever know
     you're the heart I know by heart

And I don't believe in anything
unless it makes no sense
and can't be seen
your kisses taste like kerosene
you're the heart I know by heart

In grand style
and perfect form
we'll throw ourselves into the storm
you're the only one who can keep me warm
you're the heart I know by heart

     Hey yo
     hey yo
     off to hell we'll probably go!
     the only thing I'll ever know
     you're the heart I know by heart

     Hey yo
     hey yo
     off to hell we'll never go!
     the only thing I'll ever know
     you're the heart I know by heart

 

©Nathan Payne

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Nathan Payne
Nathan Payne

I am a songwriter and bandleader who travels the world in search of the golden ticket. http://www.pablosmoglives.com


pablosmoglives
pablosmoglives

Replacing my blog at http://pablosmoglives.wordpress.com

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