Shadow (30 Days of Marc Cohn — Day 5)

“Shadow” Marc Cohn Live 04-05 This is a slow sultry jazz-y tune that seems like it’d be fun to sing.  In keeping with a developing theme, it’s an anthem for a dysfunctional and probably unhealthy relationship.  After all, lines like

You’re a shadow Over my soul You’re the heart of darkness An unfillable hole

do not exactly sing of happiness and warmth.  And though the singer claims he’s beyond the relationship

Some have a lifetime of memories They say it feels like a curse Me, I can’t remember a thing about you And I don’t know which is worse

it sounds like he protests too much, because clearly he’s still in the grip of whatever possessed him in the first place:

I can’t remember your laughter I can’t remember your smell I can’t remember your body But I’m still under your spell The sound of your footsteps The touch of your fingers I don’t remember a thing about you Still, a part of you lingers

And while one could, with squinted eyes and determined brow, find a way to make this sound moving and attractive, it doesn’t take long to learn that things are less than they seem:

Now I don’t mean to hurt you Or forsake you I’ll admit there was a minute there I was hoping I could shake you

That is not exactly an expression of undying love, though it is something that won’t let go. One of the things I like about Marc Cohn’s songs is their nuance.  There aren’t usually heros or villains, just people struggling to make sense of the world they live in and the people they know.  And though the whole song has been an unrelenting denunciation, it end with a signature recognition that each of us is complicit in our own addictions:

I thought I was finished With all of this jive Is it you or me baby That keeps this thing alive

(Aside: In iTunes, this song is called “Shadow”.  On MarcCohn.net, it’s listed as “You’re a Shadow”.)

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