In 200 Sad Songs this week: Change Your Mind, an anti-love ode that focuses on the moments we reach out to that person we shouldn’t. The lesson here is, don’t.
While it is undoubtedly terrible when the object of your affection either never wanted you, or simply doesn’t anymore, at least there can be a calm sense of clarity in knowing you have no real agency in the situation. But when two people decide not to be together for reasons that place rationality above emotion, it’s way more difficult. We like to fool ourselves into believing that our willpower – usually trusted and implemented when we are at our strongest – will remain immovable even when we are crying and eating Cheetohs at 2am, looking through old photos and listening to old songs which trigger old feelings, typing and erasing variants of the same misguided missive as you think, “maybe this time it’ll be different…”
Also on The Big Smoke
- 200 Sad Songs: #176 Bright Eyes – Poison Oak (2005)
- 200 Sad Songs: #177 Michael Jackson – Childhood (1995)
- 200 Sad Songs: #178 Bone Thugs-n-Harmony – Tha Crossroads (1996)
In Change Your Mind, Clare Bowen – or rather her Nashville character, mercurial Southern belle Scarlett – is being strong for both her and the lover she knows she shouldn’t want anymore. “When you’re weak and all alone, and you’re reaching for the phone – change your mind”, she implores, and it’s mostly self preservation.
We learn during the song that he left her, and her main reason for keeping him away seems to be to avoid the dramatic retreading that would occur if she were to accept him back. It seems like a pattern she is keen to steer clear of. “Baby, don’t come back this time. Don’t wanna have to say goodbye all over again.”
Most readers will relate to the easy warmth of falling back into a familiar relationship. Bowen/Scarlett does and she wants no part of this cycle. “I don’t wanna do that dance, the push and pull, the second chance. I already know.” And she does. Change Your Mind shoots down the easy platitudes that often arise during these emotionally-fraught encounters, “forever-speak” as I am now dubbing it. “You’ll just promise me forever, and then you’ll take it back just like that. Say you can’t live without me, then you’ll change your mind.” It’s all too sadly familiar.
Despite her spot-on twang, Clare Bowen is actually an Australian, while her co-vocalist Sam Palladio is from London – although hopefully they signed draconian contracts that prevent them from ever singing in their natural accents in order to preserve the sanctity of these characters.