I’d rather go on lovin’ blind, girl, than go on lovin’ without you.
Told you we hadn’t heard the last from Toby Keith. This is my favorite song of his, hands down. Naturally, it’s about adultery.
There’re so many angles from which to write a song about the moment of truth. Will the character mostly be angry? Or desperate for the cheater to stay? Or just plain-old hurt? Keith’s character feels all of these things, but they’re dwarfed by his yearning for yesterday’s ignorance. He can’t stop himself from loving this woman; he can’t stop her from sleeping around. If he could just unknow about her unfaithfulness, everything would be alright again. And lord knows, he’s tried as hard as he could to shut out his suspicions. But now they’ve been confirmed, and God, what an awful reality that is.
Of course, a man who’s honest enough with himself to admit that he would be happier as a fool is also a man who’s less likely than most to be foolish, and he clearly understands that he needs to leave before she has the chance to hurt him anymore. “Please don’t say you’re sorry,” he cuts her off, “I might wait another day.”
That’s my second favorite line in the song, because it recognizes the barely-contained desperation. My favorite line is from the chorus, and it lets that anger flare up a little: “I’m not saying that you could ever be true. I just don’t want to know how it ends.” He insults her, but he doesn’t scream it in her face. It’s a quick aside, a little blip in parentheses, before he reiterates his wish to be free from the truth. You’re a tramp, sure, but this isn’t about you, and this remark isn’t even important enough to be a part of the major rhyme scheme. That’s just cold. But coldness is necessary for someone who’s trying to maintain a dispassionate facade so he doesn’t break down before he reaches the door.
This reminds me somewhat of Mitchell, actually. It’s certainly about the end of a relationship. But he’s also using that relationship as a framework through which he can explore himself and human nature. He doesn’t take this as far as Mitchell would; it wouldn’t be a good country-pop song if he did. But like every good Mitchell song, there’s nery a clichéd idea or turn of phrase. This song is to How Do You Like Me Now? as Help Me is to Shine. Speaking of things I wish I didn’t know now…
[Sorry. Couldn’t help myself on that last sentence.]