30 April 2010

Natalie Imbruglia: Torn

If i wanted to, i could divide the songs that have been featured here on Lyrics, Weakly into a number of different categories: There are songs that could have been good, but the lyrics are so bad that it distracts from the music; there are songs that are just plain horrible, and the lyrics are badly done as part of the whole package; there are songs that you could argue i like precisely because the lyrics are so awful it makes for a so-bad-it’s good listening experience.

And then there are songs like today’s feature, Natalie Imbruglia’s “Torn”: Songs i like even though the lyrics are nonsensical enough that you would have thought it would result in me downgrading it.

I can’t explain why i like this song, unless it’s the result of context—it was released in 1997, which wasn’t really a good year for music. (You don’t believe me? Just consider one fact: The Spice Girls made Spice World that year. ’Nuff said.) So maybe it’s all wrapped up in the fact that this song stayed at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for eleven weeks, thereby reducing the number of times we all had to listen to “Wannabe” yet again.

But, like i said, the lyrics of the song leave a bit to be desired. Just listen:

I thought I saw a man brought to life

Methinks Ms Imbruglia spent too much time watching Frankenstein movies growing up.

He was warm
He came around
And he was dignified

Two things here.

First of all, if someone is alive, that person is generally warm, at least assuming you think 98.6 degrees fahrenheit/​37 celsius counts as warm. (If that doesn’t count as warm to you, though, i suggest you urge this man to seek medical attention quickly.)

Second, of course he’s dignified, as any fan of Gene Wilder and/or Peter Boyle could have told you.

He showed me what it was to cry

Maybe it just comes of being a parent, but i strongly suspect that no human needs to be shown how to cry.

Maybe Ms Imbruglia isn’t human? One might now suspect. Just sayin’.

Well you couldn’t be that man I adored
You don’t seem to know
Or seem to care
What your heart is for

Ooh! Ooh! I know what the heart is for! Do i get extra credit for that?

I don’t know him anymore

In all seriousness, i can’t figure out this particular lyric—Ms Imbruglia switches from second person (you) to third person (he) without a bit of warning. Is she complaining about us, and then suddenly switches to complaining about some guy she knows? ’Cause that’s what it sounds like, and to be quite honest, if she wants me to lend a sympathetic ear to her man troubles, she really oughtn’t lead into it by kvetching about me to my face.

Or, of course, it could simply be that she doesn’t understand human emotions, and this is actually the way they talk about such things on her home world.

There’s nothin’ where he used to lie

Um, that’s because he used to lie there. See? It’s in the past tense, which means it was like that at some point previous to the present. Further, the construction ‘used to’ means that the past-tense state or action is completed, meaning it doesn’t exist that way any more. Therefore, since he used to lie there, he no longer lies there. Glad to have been able to clear that up for you!

(Sometimes it’s good to have a professional linguist around to help out in such cases. Just doing my civic duty, folks, nothing more.)

My conversation has run dry
That’s what's going on
Nothing’s right

Might i suggest medical help, yet again?

I’m torn

Or, perhaps, medical attention for other symptoms?

I’m all out of faith

Well, on that one at least i suspect WebMD isn’t going to be much help.

This is how I feel
I’m cold and I am shamed
Lying naked on the floor

If lying on the floor while naked makes you cold, it might be worth standing up, or at least lying on carpet rather than tile.

No, really, no need to thank me—just happy to help.

Illusion never changed
Into something real
I’m wide awake and I can see the perfect sky is torn

Normally, “torn” isn’t used to describe perfect things. So, then, if the sky is torn, it wouldn’t be perfect, right? So how can the perfect sky be torn? And if the sky was torn to any significant degree, wouldn’t we lose our atmosphere, which would mean that there was no sky at all?

In other news, this sentence is completely false.

You’re a little late
I’m already torn

You know, even taking this couplet as i’m pretty sure it was actually intended, being that torn up over someone being a little late seems like it’s kind of an extreme reaction. But maybe that’s just me.

So I guess the fortune teller’s right

Just wondering what would we do without YouTube to let us know how to gain access to such useful technologies?

(Alternatively, there’s this one, but it’s not entirely safe for work.)

I should have seen just what was there and not some holy light

I have no idea what this is supposed to mean.

But you crawled beneath my veins
And now, I don’t care
I have no luck
I don’t miss it all that much
There’s just so many things
That I can’t touch
I’m torn

Please see my previous comments about gaining information on treating medical "issues.

There’s nothin’ where he used to lie
My inspiration has run dry
That’s what’s going on
Nothing’s right
I’m torn

More depression.

Wow—this has really turned into a downer of a song. Therefore, i will leave you with something to lighten the mood.


  1. You're right, the song makes no sense, but I just can't help loving it. Plus I always get a kick out of how people from other countries always sound American when they sing.

  2. As odd as the lyrics are I love the song. As depressing as it is it still somehow sounds happy. Weird how that is.

    But the lines:
    And now, I don’t care
    I have no luck
    I don’t miss it all that much

    have always thrown me for a loop. Because I totally expect her to say she doesn't give a flying... after that thing about having no luck.

  3. @Michelle: Other than the Proclaimers, of course. Well, and Frightened Rabbit, who sound Scottish in reaction to other bands sounding American.