We were merely flesh then.That's an intriguing line. Unfortunately, The Verve Pipe (really? "The Verve Pipe"?) sang nothing of the sort. The reality, as often, is much more banal:
We were merely freshmen.I don't care that you were freshmen. My version is better. My version is better even if I don't know exactly what it means.
("The Freshmen," The Verve Pipe)
But sometimes it's my version that produces the banalization. Here's what I thought Michael Stipes sang:
Every streetlight reveals a picture and a verseHe's driving down the street at night, and every streetlight presents him with some new tableau that inspires a poetic reflection. How lovely...
...no, how twee and inept. It's silly to imagine Stipes producing a verse to go with each streetlight (there's a bush, there's the speed limit...). And anyway the song is not a series of descriptions of roadside scenes. Here are the actual lyrics:
Nightswimming deserves a quiet nightThis is evocative because it's so precisely imagined. The reversed reflection of the old photograph fades in and out as the car passes each streetlight, like memory itself, which is also both vivid and elusive.
The photograph on the dashboard, taken years ago,
Turned around backwards so the windshield shows
Every streetlight reveals the picture in reverse
Shame on me: for a while I thought that my version must be correct and that all the lyrics sites had it wrong. Now I know better.