3. Oxford American: Can’t You See That I’m Lonely?
I frequently listen to songs on repeat—sometimes for months at a time. This fall, I mostly listened to Smokey Robinson’s “The Tracks of My Tears.” I’d listen to the original 1965 recording with The Miracles. I’d listen to live performances and covers. I like a lot of the performances from the past few decades, when Robinson slows the song down. And I’m fascinated by each audience’s excitement to hear such a tragic song.
David Ramsey listens to Fontella Bass’s “Rescue Me” on repeat. Wherever and whenever the song plays, people dance or sing along to the song, “because how could they not? Because everyone knows this song. Because it feels good to dance, feels good to sing with strangers. They all know the words, even the little boy, automatically, without even thinking: ‘Can’t you see that I’m lonely? Rescue me.’”
As soon as I saw this title, “Rescue Me” began playing in my head. I must admit, however, that as familiar as I was with the song, I’d never sat with its lyrics. Speaking about the lyrics in 2004, Bass described how “It’s the everyday living that I like about ‘Rescue Me’ because everybody needs to be rescued… Everybody needs to be loved.”
Here, Ramsey writes about the song, but does not write “a story about the first time I heard ‘Rescue Me’ because I don’t remember ever not knowing the song. It is snugly in the middle of the soundtrack of my life. Not tied to any particular memory or any particular time or any particular place or any particular person. But evocative of memory nevertheless.”