Well all know the story of Sarah McLachlan’s song “Possession,” right?
No? Okay, check this out:
While it sounds like a pretty hot love song on the surface, it’s actually a series of increasingly disturbing “love notes” from McLachlan’s real-life stalker.
Yeah, how’s that for 50 shades of fucked up?
The first time I listened to this song, naturally I figured it was a hot love song. I listened to it a lot. It was on one of the first CDs I bought in high school, Fumbling Towards Ecstasy. If FTE had been a vinyl record, I would’ve worn the damn thing out, that’s how many times I listened to it on repeat.
Let’s put it this way: I once had a professor who told me he listened to Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue so many times that his college roommate had instituted a 10-limit maximum for playing the album whenever he was in the apartment. Fumbling Towards Ecstasy was my Kind of Blue.
Anyway, I must have listened to this song at least a hundred times before I fell in with a real, live, honest-to-god Canadian who knew the story behind the song.
He told me about the stalker.
I thought that was creepy as hell. But at the same time, isn’t that what all great artists do? Turn shit into gold?
Fumbling Towards Ecstasy is still a great fucking album. Possibly McLachlan’s finest. I still think “Possession” is creepy, and certainly not a song on which I’d like to base my relationships, but I still admire Sarah for turning something dangerous and damaging into something darkly beautiful. It was, perhaps, the musical equivalent of 50 Shades of Grey, in that it’s not the kind of fiction that should be turned into one’s reality, but that poses a lot of interesting questions about love relationships and the lines that people cross because of their attractions and addictions.
It also made me fall in love with Canadians. I guess I’ve been a Canadaphile (if that’s even a word) since the 1990s.
P.S. Wikipedia says the stalker tried to sue McLachlan for using his letters as lyrics. They were going to court in 1994 when he committed suicide. Case closed. But even if the asshole had gone through with it, I think it’s pretty fucking ballsy to sue the person you’re stalking for reappropriating the creepy shit you wrote to them. Only in Canada can an aggressor pose as a victim. Say what you will about Americans and their bloodthirstiness, but I personally think that if someone breaks into your house with the intent to do you harm, all bets are off. Similarly, if you’re sending threatening messages to me, and I turn them into a short story, your rights are null and void.
In the words of another infamous Sarah: “You have no power over me.”
Now it’s your turn
What pop songs make you think about love? How have pop songs influenced your relationships? Tell me a story, and you could be featured in the first volume of Everything I Need to Know About Love I Learned From Pop Songs. Click the link for details on how to submit.