I’m walking home tonight, thinking I haven’t written a post in a few days. No excuse, as much as I go on about working for the sake of yourself, the sake of the world, the sake of the dignity of work itself…
But warming my walk through the sweeping chill of another Ohio night is the sound of the Eagles. Don’t know why, but I had the player on random and at random it came up Desperado.
The song is so popular it’s almost a cliché to discuss. Cliché be damned, I think I’ll tell you what I think makes the song so popular and a mainstay in culture. Let me get the personal stuff out of the way; it’s basically a song about a guy struggling out there on his own and his attempt to reconcile that struggle to the world. Not an easy thing. “Out riding fences” is a pretty apt description of my life and the course I’ve taken.
There’s a line near the beginning of the song that I’d like to focus on, however. “You’re a hard one, but I know you’ve got your reasons…”
Okay, full stop.
This song is basically breaking Mr. Desperado’s balls about how he doesn’t quite get it, how he doesn’t quite know how to fit into the world of men and women. But there’s that line: “I know that you’ve got your reasons.”
This means that they get the subject of the song’s problems, in essence, they get him. It’s a show of sympathy, no matter how much they might object to his path. It’s what makes the song truly a masterpiece, in my opinion. If you’re talking to another person and you don’t know their reasons, you don’t know anything. If you’re writing a character and you don’t have a handle on his or her reasons, you’re writing into a void.
Understanding the other. Tough to do, tough to consider, important to try. It might be that in, “I know that you’ve got your reasons,” many of the writer’s problems and many of the world’s problems could be abated.
It’s why the anti-hero is an alluring character in fiction, on screen, whatever. There’s something about a Desperado that is understandable—a good writer, or at least, one that cares, will bring that out.
So go on with your bad self. You got your reasons. See you after.