George Watsky had me at the first three chords of “Sloppy Seconds,” which sound like they come straight off an Adele album.
When I first heard about him and his music, I kind of thought that he was not for real: white guy wearing flannel with a peach-fuzzed upper lip trying to make it in the rap industry? Seriously, I thought this guy was a joke. He looks rather like he belongs on a couch in a college apartment watching a Lakers game and drinking a Bud Light than rapping on stage in front of thousands of people.
Intrigued, though, I Googled him. I first stumbled upon the video to “Tiny Glowing Screens,” and was impressed by his ability to address some of the issues regarding computer technology that I have dealt with on this very site.
But it wasn’t until “Sloppy Seconds” that I was sold. The lyrics to the hook are as follows:
Cold pizza, tie-dyed shirts, broken hearts
Give’m here, give’m here.
Hand me downs, leftovers, sloppy seconds
Give’m here, give’m here.
I don’t care where you’ve been
How many miles, I still love you.
I wasn’t immediately impressed by his parallels between pizza and a woman, but after watching the video and reading the lyrics, I understood that the metaphors he uses are purposeful and effective. I also realized that not only does Watsky eloquently describe a love worth having, but his music and this song in particular are crafting a modern-day retelling of the Biblical Hosea story.
In this Old Testament story and book, Hosea woos and marries the prostitute Gomer, who ends up leaving him to return to prostitution. Hosea continues to love her and care for her, despite the adultery that she continues to go back to. The relationship in the text is meant to be a representation of the love that God feels for us — that, despite our rejection of Him, He still loves and longs for us.
Watsky is doing the same thing. He may not know it, but he is participating in a long literary tradition that refashions this story. More importantly, though, I think he is providing a stunning and much-needed example of love that serves the needs of the Other before the wants of the Self.
This is most obvious, I think, in the video. The audience to whom this song is addressed is to a general “you,” and so can mean many things or refer to many people. For the purpose of this article, though, I will understand that audience to refer to the woman in the music video with Watsky.
The video shows the two on a road trip, ostensibly a fun one. They seem happy together. Towards the end of the song though, the woman is shown in a bathroom having a bout with bulimia. The scene is not an explicit one, and so I’m not sure that this is what Watsky meant to show, but it certainly looked like that to me.
And this is where the power of the message comes in for me: it’s one thing to take and accept someone with all the baggage of childhood and young adulthood if that baggage has since been dealt with and resolved. It’s entirely another to take and accept someone who is still held down and tortured by said baggage. And yet this is the woman who Watsky loves. This is the woman who he will care for and love and long for, despite the issues that undoubtedly seem to exert complete control over her at that precise moment when she is hanging in the balance of the decision of whether to throw up one more time, yet again, despite the loathing she feels for the whole thing.
It’s not often that we see this type of love in pop culture. More often, we see examples of celebrities who are cast out of Hollywood when they no longer have sex appeal that sells. We feast and prosper on the behavior of stars who begin to act out as a result of mental illness. We hear songs about beautiful girls and independent women and strong men but rarely do we hear about love for the weak, for the troubled, for the suffering.
This is exactly the type of love that we need to hear most about, because deep down, despite the coping mechanisms we are so good at employing, we are all broken and weak. We all have a “story,” as Watsky says, and to find love in spite of these hurts is more freeing than anything else in the world.
Thanks, Watsky, for reminding us of that.
Previously from Laura Creel:
♦ Nikki Sixx is Super Annoying and Takes Himself Waaaay 2 Srsly
♦ What Luhrmann’s Lacks, Fitzgerald’s Struggles Under: The Weightiness of Death in “The Great Gatsby”
♦ Please, Google Glass, I’m Just Not That Cool
♦ Charles Ramsey, Amanda Berry and the Value of Human Connection
♦ A Discussion on Leaning In and Having It All, and Why It’s Maybe Not For Me