Paul Anka: Rock Swings

Song: “True

I’m the first to admit I don’t know anything about musical arrangements, so the genius of this album is apparently lost on me. I’ve watched my music-geek friends geek out on this one, which means it must be impressive. For me it sounds like going to Karaoke with some friends, and watching Matt Bearden pretend to be a lounge singer while Nirvana plays in the background. But again, I don’t know anything about music theory.

I do know, however, that every time I hear Paul Anka sing Spandau Ballet’s finest work, it sounds like he’s mocking them, just a bit.


(side tangent: why so much Paul Anka in my life these days? From Gilmore Girls to my iPod, this man’s name has come up way more than I’m used to.)

Listen. When it comes to “True,” you’re not supposed to be in a swinging, martini-swilling mood. You’re supposed to be achy.

So true
Funny how it seems
Always in time, but never in line for dreams
Head over heels,when toe to toe

You’re supposed to be Anthony Michael Hall, watching Molly Ringwald from across the gymnasium dance floor.

This is the sound of my soul
This is the sound

You’re supposed to be in your car, singing loudly, pretending you aren’t stuck in a traffic jam because an eighteen-wheeler has overturned on the 134 and you’re going to be at least half an hour late for work.

I bought a ticket to the world
But now I’ve come back again
Why do I find it hard to write the next line
When I want the truth to be said

This isn’t the moment for winks and tips of the hat. This is when you muster up the strength and walk across the room and ask that boy to dance.

I know this much is true

This is the moment when you want to ask him, but you can already picture him saying, “Oh. Uh, maybe the next song?” And then you’d go, “Yeah, this one’s like, totally almost over anyway.” And he’d look at you with his lip kind of sneering uncontrollably and say, “Riiiight.”

With a thrill in my head an a pill on my tongue
Dissolve the nerves that have just begun
Listening to marvin all night long

This is the moment you’re too young to know what that those last few lines even meant. And that’s okay, because you’re totally going to ask that boy to dance. Because maybe it’ll be better if there’s only part of a song. And maybe he’ll feel obligated to dance with you through the next song. And then maybe it’ll be a fast song, and he can see how awesome your moves are, because you’ve been practicing, pretty girl. That full-length bedroom mirror can’t be your only dance partner. You’ve got to unleash that talent on the world.

This is the sound of my soul
This is the sound

The sound of your SOUL, sweet girl. This is it. He’s going to hear the sound of your soul. And he’s going to hear it because you can pretty much hear your heartbeat in your throat, so he could certainly hear your soul, right? And maybe the fast song will be “Hungry Like The Wolf” and you can make him laugh when you ask why would someone brag about smelling like they sound, and what the hell does that mean, anyway?

See? You’re funny. Go ask him to dance. This is the moment.

Always slipping from my hands
Sand’s a time of it’s own

You walk up, and you ask him.

He says, “Oh.”

And you say, “Because I have to go home soon.”

It’s a good lie. Great lie. Make yourself sound like you’re running out of time. Maybe you could cough a little, like maybe you mean something deeper than that, like you’re a sick teenage girl, because there’s nothing more romantic than a last dance with a dying girl.

(How is it possible you got a C on your creative writing essay? You write gold, girl. Gold.)

(“Gold” — the other good Spandau Ballet song, but not as good as “True.”)

This is the moment he says, “Okay, I guess.”

And he takes your hand. And your face is on fire as he leads you to the middle of the dark dance floor. You pass his friends. You pretend their laughter is their supportive chuckles. They’re laughing because they’re happy, and they too are picturing your wedding, your first dance, when this song will play again and your new husband will say, “I thought we might dance this one all the way through for once.”

But this isn’t that moment. Because that moment never happened.

Take your seaside arms and write the next line
Oh I want the truth to be known

This is the moment when “True” does its best work. This is not a moment for Wally Lamb novels. This isn’t the moment for Paul Anka to hit a jazzy stride.

This is the moment when a few notes of this song make you wonder what would have happened if you had asked that boy to dance because you have no idea where he is anymore, and it’s too late, and you were too chicken to find out what would happen if you were brave enough to forget the seventh grade for three minutes and pretend you were just beginning the rest of your life.

This is the sound of your soul.