Whenever I listen to music, I always pick up on some lyrics more than others, and imagine those snippets as paintings. It can be any kind of music, but there are inevitably certain lyrics that resonate more than others, that I long to put down on paper as a backdrop for trying out a new technique, or a new mixture of colours.
Although it’s not exactly from the most sophisticated song I know (early 2000s, hello), I do love this lyric from Pink – Your Whole Life Waiting on a Ring to Prove You’re Not Alone. I especially like the dual meaning. There’s something very sad about the song (Glitter in the Air, above), but this line particularly speaks to me about the idea of loneliness vs solitude. After all, being “alone” is a state of mind, right? If you’re happy with your own space, and enjoying it (as I very often do), then you’re not really alone. Or lonely.
It’s only when you reflect on what else you might be doing, who might have called but didn’t, that you start to feel differently. It’s only when you consider that other people might be calling each other up to go out and do what your paranoid head thinks are impossibly-cool things, that you start to feel alone, when you were 100% fine before.
I’ve always enjoyed my own company, but I find this lyric interesting because it’s talking about “proving” that you’re not alone. It’s looking at it from the outside, from other people’s perceptions of your own loneliness. It’s not a coincidence that being called a “loser”, or “no mates” is such an apparently cutting insult.
People who like their own space and don’t care about being out at every latest thing, are often at risk from people who assume they must be sad and lonely, and missing something. It’s always an interesting balance between making the effort to go out and do things, realising that social interaction can be a wonderful tonic to life, and feeling comfortable enough in your own skin to be at home, alone, singing to your own hymn sheet, doing whatever you feel like, no matter who knows or cares. The latter is one of the upsides of being single, I think, but the wider perception is often more “cat lady” than “alone and happy”. Nice.
Equally, this lyric’s other meaning is clearly that of a “wedding ring”, and society’s still-prevalent perception that if you can’t find someone to marry you by a certain age then you’re probably a bit of an anti-social loser. (Again, that word loser. SIGH.) If you’re single (or simply alone for whatever reason) it can seem like the world is made for two – restaurant tables, hotel deals, double-your-income house prices.
People with the confidence – or shall we say, the don’t give a fuck-ness, to just walk into a restaurant or cinema, by themselves, often have to defend their actions to other people, like: “oh, it’s OK, I take a book,” or “It’s nice not to be distracted, ahem”. In a duo, or a big group of friends, people don’t question you. As one, you’re often seen as a odd, slightly weird, a bit of a loner.
Incidentally, on a slightly different point, I’ve never been one of those people to have a huge group of friends. My whole life, I have never felt comfortable in one of those big, loud, colourful gangs of impossibly-glamorous women, laughing over their cocktails at the hilarious, wild and varied lives they all do lead. I’ve always been a bit envious of people who can affect such insouciance with glorious abandon. I always feel like I’m the one at the back, pretending to have a great time but surreptitiously pulling up my tights, feeling like my hair needs a good brush, and wishing I could just talk to a few of my closest mates over a quieter drink.I’m pretty extroverted, but still much better in small groups – or even better – in a trio or duo. Or as a couple, say. There are advantages to being single, but the world likes pairs. It’s easier. It’s cheaper. It’s understood. People know what box to put you in if you’re part of a couple. If you’re not, you’re either probably looking to be in one, or you’re a bit dark and complicated and y’know, probably lonely as fuck.
There’s a balance to be had here – after all, it’s a famous saying that you can feel lonely as part of a crowd, and I can’t imagine anywhere more lonely than as one half of a bad relationship. Sometimes your own company is the best, other times, it can feel like your heart is literally bleeding out into your chest with the loneliness of it all.
In these days of Facebook weddings and holidays and updates from your most sociable friends, it can feel like as everyone else pairs up and hangs out, you’re even more alone. If you only had that ring – the phone call, or the sparkly left-hand diamond – you could “prove” that you’re not alone, that someone loves you. After all, right, if it’s not on Facebook, it didn’t happen. Because no-one posts a photo or status of themselves having a genuinely fantastic night in, painting, watching movies and drinking whisky-tinged hot chocolate, on a WEEKEND (cough). That would be like, so weird, or protesting just WAY too much.
There’s also that idea that unless you’re part of that perfect group – be it a firm Sex-and-the-City friendship circle, or a solid couple – that your life can’t really begin. Like everything before is just a perpetual, temporary adolescence (wtf?). It’s why people have wedding lists, even if they ostensibly have all the things on it already – NOT because they’re out for all they can get, apparently – but because they’re supposed to be “starting life” together. It’s An Established Thing.
And that, my friends, is why I decided to paint this lyric. It made me think of all that, and it’s just one sodding line. It also gave me a chance to mess around with colours, and use my silver metallic pens, and that, we all know, is a glorious chance just FAR TOO GOOD to pass up.