INSPIRATION: Miguel “Don’t Look Back”
For awhile now, Miguel’s “Don’t Look Back,” has been in the soul playlist, not only because of its sound, but also its cleverness. I’m a sucker for symbolism, especially in music, because it takes a certain kind of artist to create many layers of imagery. Let’s be honest…music artists of today certainly lack that and I applaud Miguel’s efforts to bring something exciting to the arena.
Miguel paints a picture of a man warning his lady love off of him. The man’s warning signs is of a beastly nature, a werewolf if you will. This man is aware of his inner beast and claims it’s an inherent part of him. Like, “I messed up but I couldn’t help it. I know it’s bad, I’m sorry. I love you but I told you what I was going through before you met me,” ….sounds familiar?
“I feel the night approaching
The moon calling me
Reluctant eyes have witnessed
The horrors I can be
I felt compelled to warn you
I’m not all that I seem
And though I care about you
The night is calling me”
How many people, male and female alike, have been warned about the bad or have warned a potential dating partner? Like, I’m guarded, I have a crazy ex, etc., before allowing an organic assessment of dateability. I call this the “trap door” set up. This gives a person an out for a various number of reasons; the relationship is either not all it’s cracked up to be, someone (maybe both) is not emotionally available, or someone, usually the initiator, is not ready for a relationship. Either one of those examples will almost always be the default result if you set up the relationship, rather than live through it. Employing this tactic, in my opinion, sets up failure from the beginning.
Generally I feel people who do this fall into two categories, either they have been hurt before and think they’ll spare themselves disappointment, or second, they’re absolving themselves of responsibility if a person decides to pursue a relationship with them regardless of their warning. The first person, completely removes mystery and the excitement of getting to know a person when you’re first dating. This is not the casual “how I am” conversation, this is the baggage talk which a lot of people don’t recognize for its unattractiveness. You put a person on edge from the word go by telegraphing your bruises. Sometimes you have to let someone love you bruises and all.
The second category is someone telling you, in so many words, their intentions aren’t all together kosher with your expectations. Sometimes it someone effectively friend-zoning you, but they’re okay with sleeping with you. Simply stated, a rational person wouldn’t want to date them, and if you hang out, you’re okay with whatever. Maybe it’s a person who cares about you, sure, but they’re just not that into you (maybe more into themselves if it makes you feel better) to give you a healthy balanced relationship. Or their intentions are all bad. But be realistic, most people aren’t gonna be like hey I’m a jackass, or I’m just dating you because you have money and I need bills paid, or I’m lonely and want someone to go out to dinner or the movies with while the person I really like is on ice. Get the picture?
But let’s return to the song, this man obviously falls in the second category.
It’s just so interesting what Miguel does here. He parallels cheating with the man’s instinctual nature. I say this because I have had this cheating debate with male friends. One friend said that it’s a struggle everyday not to give into temptation, and another married one even offered, like we were talking about something as simple as vanilla ice cream, that when women get married do they really think that their husbands wouldn’t have a dip on the side? Now, LISTEN UP! I do not feel this is the attitude of ALL men, but it is the attitude of a good many. Before any of you get defensive, please absorb the previous statement, and avoid waving your picket signs.
The setup: If I should claim a victim to devour before the light
The excuse: I pray that you forgive me, it’s just my appetite
Again women, you were warned, but if you choose to proceed…it’s on you. Nine times out of ten, if you do, you’ll be singing “4am” right along with Melanie Fiona.
But if that wasn’t clear enough for you, think about an argument you had with a significant other. For example, I had a friend who got back with their ex, and was told a various number of things that happened during their relationship. The response to the feelings of hurt and disappointment was, “but I was honest with you, you knew this from jump,” etc. Enough said.
Next, let’s touch on the chorus of the song. As I stated before, Miguel warns the lady love loud and clear…
“If I (if I), don’t make it back before the sun (the sun)
All you have to do is run (run)
Just promise me you’ll run (run)
And don’t look back
Don’t look back
Don’t look back
Don’t look back
And promise me you run.”
I swear this guy is skillful. He tells you what to look for, and if you see the signs, he advises you to run and don’t look back, again and again. This is not to be confused with leave, but call two weeks later, respond to the I miss you texts, or get back together after a decent amount of time and see that the person hasn’t really changed. I think he’s saying that is definitely going to happen, but regardless, “don’t look back, don’t look back, don’t look back…and promise me you’ll run.”
While those lines seem so simple, when you look at the song as a whole, they’re much more complex. Think of the ways to save or kill a werewolf. Either you kill it’s maker before the werewolf claims its victim, or you shoot the werewolf with a silver bullet. Both options are pretty damn hopeless, and in my opinion, represents the irredeemable quality of this kind of relationship. If you’re too insecure to let someone love you like you deserve, by warning them out the gate you’ll create an imbalance in the relationship. Sure sometimes this works for people, there is an exception to every rule; however, you’re going to have a lot more difficult relationships than good ones. On the other hand, if you’ve been warned of questionable behavior, and you still proceed, you’ve let that person know that behavior is okay with you, and guess what, good luck with them changing if you’ve established that standard. Oh, and if you’re the warner because of those pernicious second reasons, grow up and stay single!
But those people will never stay single, and if you let them they’ll keep drawing you in. Think I’m wrong, listen to Miguel’s outro…
Don’t you run, don’t you run
What’s your name? Who’s your daddy
Is a rich like me (Like me, like me)
Has it taken, the time to show ya
All the things you need to live
Tell it to me slowly
I really want to know
Is the time of the season for lovin’, lovin’
Know what that says, “you’ll be back.” Go with his first piece of advice and don’t look back.