I do not like the song Throw Your Arms Around Me.
I quite like Mark Seymour as a songwriter and I have nothing against Hunters and Collectors these days. I say “these days” because I used to not like them. My reason for not liking them was the same reason I didn’t like Midnight Oil – it was more to do with their meathead fans than the band. And Mark Seymour’s vocal style made it very easy and tempting for those meatheads to get in your face at the Blue Light Disco (or even in the schoolyard, apropos of nothing) and bellow
Yeew don’t make me feeeel, like I’m a womananymooooooore!
That, and bogans at gigs yelling out for HUNNAAAHS, regardless of whether it was a local cover band or well-established original artists like Nick Barker or Frente, was enough to put me off them. I have since learnt to enjoy them, but I still don’t like Throw Your Arms Around Me.
Obviously I’m in the minority. The song has been covered by everyone from Kate Cebrano to Pearl Jam. Crowded House have always made it a regular item in their live sets and there can be few greater compliments to a song than having a songwriter the calibre of Neil Finn wanting to sing it. But I still don’t like it.
It’s not just that I don’t like it, I am disturbed by it. Let’s look at the lyrics,
I will come for you at night timeOkay, that’s pretty standard stuff for some confused, late-teen romance, but it’s the next stanza where things get creepy:
I will raise you from your sleep
I will kiss you in four places
I'll go running along your street
I will squeeze the life out of you“I will squeeze the life out of you?” Is this describing a rape? Also the chorus of “You will throw your arms around me,” implies that either the object of the narrator’s affection doesn’t have a whole lot of say in the matter, or he is being rather presumptuous. This was somewhat confirmed after Paul McDermott’s cover of the song. Either by accident or design, he changed the lyric to “You may throw your arms around me,” and he was mocked for it, which suggests that “will” is important.
You will make me laugh and make me cry
We will never forget it
You will make me call your name and
I'll shout it to the blue summer sky
A friend has suggested that I am reading far too much into the song, and he takes it more as describing a summer shag. If that’s the case, it’s probably a depressingly accurate representation of Australian romance. “We may never meet again so shed your skin and let’s get started.” What girl wouldn’t melt for that? It’s really just one step above, “Darlin’ it’s yer lucky night.”
The second verse also has its creepy bits.
I dreamed of you at night timeHmmm.... stalking? Mind you, that’s only creepy on the same level that Every Breath You Take is creepy – not nearly as suss as squeezing the life out of someone.
And I watched you in your sleep
Having said all of this, I must say that the chorus is brilliantly crafted. It has hooks in both the first and last lines, and can easily be sung by anyone, no matter how drunk they are. That’s clever songcraft any way you look at it.
As for the subject of the song though, someone please tell me I’m wrong about this. At best, I think Throw Your Arms Around Me is a song that has been mistaken for a love song in the same way that Every Breath You Take, The One I Love and One have been.
PS: I don’t rate Sounds of Then very highly either.