Oh hey, how are you doing? I was thinking about a song. When I was a teenager, there was a famous musical Phantom of the Opera. It was dramatic and creepy about love, including All I Ask of You, a romantic, soaring love declaration song.
My dear aunt bought me a ticket to Phantom of the Opera the summer I was 16, when I was visiting her near Los Angeles. I was already familiar with it because my gay theater friends loved Phantom. The creepiest song was All I Ask of You. Do you know this song? Have you ever listened to the words?
I am familiar with this song because I’ve sung the girl part. Yeah! Well well, who’s the gay theater geek in this family Without the drama class–I was rogue.
The part where the hero interrupts the lady to say, “You know I do!” is my pinnacle of musical creep. Interrupting someone to demonstrate your love.
Please hear for yourself, if you can. He doesn’t really interrupt, in this version.
He wants to guide her. She wants him to hide her. Feels so patriarchy. Like an updated Sixteen Going on Seventeen.
Wow, it horrified me, as a child. “I need someone older and wiser telling me what to do,” makes me cry.
All I Ask of You
All I Ask of You is supposed to be beautiful and moving, but they’re doomed. Doomed is a theme of these songs. The whole deal is he’s a dysfunctional, very hurt man. And she’s so wonderful that’s supposed to heal him.
How many beautiful fucked up men have I loved? And how did that go? Spoiler alert: poorly!
building the mystery
Here’s is another song about a beautiful fucked up man. Not to belabor the point.
I played this lyrics version for Ming so he could comprehend the words.
“What does it mean?” Ming asked.
“Well, it’s kind of a list poem. All these hippie and new age things we learn all about this guy, like that he has the rasta gear and wears a cross from before Jesus came, like ancient religious cross,” I said.
“Ok,” Ming said.
“And he’s doing all these things like looking for ghosts. And wearing sandals in the snow because he’s not practical. He’s not caring for the body–he sacrifices sense for the spiritual, for healing. But he’s too fucked up and can’t heal,” I said.
“Ok,” Ming said.
“He’s hurting people. They’re loving each other, and she pays enough attention to make this list. But it’s doomed. Do you know this song?” I asked.
“No,” he said.
“Oh, ok. I’ve heard it so many times. I think the first time I heard it, the part about living in a church and sleeping with voodoo dolls made my ears perk up,” I said. “It’s a very smart song.”
Thank you for hearing some thoughts about relationship, gender, culture, bad patterns I’ve been in. I think the speaker in the Sarah McLachlan song knows what’s up. She’s savvy, even though she’s still spending time in the razor wire shine of the beautiful fucked up man. She will escape one day, like I did.
As for the Phantom, Christine, Raoul, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and the culture who wants to believe in magical time transporting chandeliers–not so sure! It’s a very popular play. Makes sense–ugly older dudes can captivate / capture lovely young sopranos, idealize and have sex with them, then be the bigger man by letting them go. Yikes!
Today I realize that there’s a reason these relationships are doomed. They have to be doomed because respectful, realistic relationships that can last are slow paced and look boring. Art wants to portray dramatic parts of relationship that can be idealized and have fiery passion. There are not as many musicals about doing laundry and arguments about leaving water on the floor in the kitchen.