Wednesday, December 7, 2016

25 Songs About Addiction And Recovery: ANYTHING BUT DOWN, Sheryl Crow

The heyday of Sheryl Crow came and went in rather short time; she wasn't really young when she hit the big time, she hasn't adjusted well to the digital age, and I think her romance with Lance Armstrong sapped a lot of vitality out of here just when she needed the opposite, though. Or perhaps it had already been extracted, because in Crow's best period, the mid-to-late 90's, she put out a number of songs that were almost perfect expressions of the angst and existential pain of being in a relationship with someone who was in love with another--their drug of choice. And none were a better expression of this than Anything But Down. 
This song was new in the spring of 1999, when I had a few months clean. I was not anywhere near the level of insight and acceptance of my own role in the tortured drama that was my relationship with Sabrina's mother. But I remember hearing this a couple of times while I was still in the halfway house I was in--and being absolutely thunderstruck by how much I identified with Crow's lyrics. There are a couple of lines which hint that the song has different layers and perhaps may not be explicitly about addiction--but it sure is about someone completely self-centered, incapable of giving back affection received, and about what it is like to be involved with someone who wants to appear to be more than they are. All are characteristic of using addicts, and there are some lines of his song that I felt were lifted directly from my life story. "How quickly you forget" all things that were done for her; I can't tell you how many fights we had over how much of an ingrate I felt she was. "You say 'Won't you come find me' and yes is what I say." There were literally dozens of times when she left the house or otherwise disappeared, and I always went looking for her. "Maybe I'm not what you had in mind." It floored me that I wasn't, and I actually remember saying this more than once, wondering what it was going to take to make it work. "You with your steel beliefs, that don't match anything you do." The main bitch I had with MOTY in 1997 was that she was a flaming hypocrite, and the main bitch that I had with her right up until 2015 was that she was still a flaming hypocrite "Can't you make it easy on yourself?" Another question I actually asked, more than once--the worst part about all the nonsense and drama we went through was that it was so unnecessary, that she seemed unwilling or unable to learn from experience and we had to go through the same crap time and again.
But the kicker was the end of the song:
"I know you wish you were strong
And you wish you were never wrong
But I got some wishes of my own"
In a nutshell, that is the bald, naked, ugly truth about how deadening to the soul living with a narcissist on the level of a using addict. The image of strength was bullshit, and we both knew it. The self-image was so fragile that she could never admit that she was wrong about anything--indeed, that particular defect of character led to her relapse after nearly a decade's abstinence. And in the end, our relationship was doomed, because my wishes never, ever entered into her thought processes. Never once.
And the early identification became even more pronounced after she went through treatment and came home, and we tried to live together as a couple. "Life was so much easier before you became you" was another arrow to the bullseye of my psyche. Granted, I wanted to feel prominent and important in the our fellowship, too--but I was nowhere near as image-conscious and manipulative about how I presented myself among our peers as she was. The facade eventually collapsed, long before her relapse--but it didn't make it any easier to deal with her because of the false front she presented in those first few months she came home, because, only seeing her for an hour a day at most, many people bought into it, and the maintenance of that mask quickly became and remained her priority.
Even now, long after this song has ceased to be any kind of rotation in any radio format, I still get taken back to an emotional place I really don't like to revisit when I hear this. And sometimes I wonder if this is part of the reason Crow herself vanished off the pop radar not long after the album this song and a couple of others like it were on was released. It might just have been too damn painful for her to deal with repeatedly.

Here's the video :

And the lyrics:

I light your cigarettes
I bring you apples from the vine
How quickly you forget
I run the bath and pour the wine
I bring you everything that floats into your mind

But you don't bring me anything but down
You don't bring me anything but down
You don't bring me anything but down
When you come 'round

You are a raging sea
I pull myself out everyday
I plea insanity
Cause I can't leave but I can't stay
You say, won't you come find me and yes is what I say

You don't bring me anything but down
You don't bring me anything but down
Everything is crashing to the ground

Maybe I'm not your perfect kind
Maybe I'm not what you had in mind
Maybe we're just killing time

You with your silky words
And your eyes of green and blue
You with your steel beliefs
That don't match anything you do
It was so much easier before you became you

You don't bring me anything but down
You don't bring me anything but down
Everything just crashes to the ground
When you come around
When you come around

No more playing seek and hide
No more long and wasted nights
Can't you make it easy on yourself

I know you wish you were strong
You wish you were never wrong
Well, I got some wishes of my own

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