AKA THIS SONG AND WHAT’S IT ABOUT
Oh, it might be unkind of me to make you feel bad,
It might be a shame of me to treat you like that,
When there’s everything you’ve worked for in your life,
On this line…
The middle-eight of ‘Always On This Line’ by Sarah Blasko is one of the most bittersweet moments in Australian music. It’s pretentious, manipulative, awful but also knowing, sly and gut-wrenching. After a whole song of ‘Maybe you could have made something of yourself’ (never myself), Blazzy cops to this brief moment of doubt. But…it’s never felt very generous to me. It feels like fine print. Compounded by the cute filmclip, the only difference between this and – as John Gardner would say – ‘staring into a volcano filled with baby skulls,’ is her awkward dancing and the impeccable chorus hook. There’s a lot of life in that dancing and chorus. I don’t know how she does it.
Then again this was released in 2006, just after Blasko turned 30, so maybe she needed a little pick me up, a bit of reassurance that a career in the Australian music industry was a better play than the routine rigours of office work and commuting. That’s a mistake. If I know anything about music, I know that it’s every bit as monstrously repetitive as office work. Trust me, your morning commute is nothing compared to touring. Selling your heart and soul to a crowd of people with the same 20 songs every night is no binary opposite of the board room or the lunch room or the copy room either. Maybe she is singing this to herself, as a type of play-acting, as represented in the clip.
I suppose what drags on me about this is that ‘Always On This Line’ is structurally wonderful. It has hooks and melodies that could have been wrapped around something so much better. This could have been about finding someone on that line, or finding the answer travelling along it, or it could have been about all the little ways that everyone finds to step over the line everyday. Instead every time it plays I feel paralysed and blank, sort of stunned that such a good song could be so shallow.
I hate it and love it dearly all at the same time.