I began to do work (son) as soon as I entered my classroom this morning. For a reason unknown to me, as I compiled a quiz on Macbeth, TLC’s “Diggin’ on You” popped in to my head.
It’s my favorite TLC song, which isn’t saying much, since the only other song I care about is “Baby, Baby, Baby.” I know that I’ve written about “Diggin’ on You” in this space at least once, possibly thirteen times. I don’t know. But – and this is going to shock you – once I finished printing out my quiz, I asked myself what it was about the song that I enjoyed so much.
My musical predilections are strange, I suppose. I can listen to certain songs I like without ever getting tired of them. There are other songs, though, which I like, but get tired of, then actively grow to hate. That new Bruno Mars song that sounds like an old Police song is a perfect example. The first few times I heard it, I liked it specifically because it sounded like the Police when they were making songs like “Message in a Bottle.” By now, though, I have heard it enough times to actively hate the song, Bruno’s performance on SNL notwithstanding.
“Diggin’ on You” falls into the former category, luckily, and after going through the lyrics, I know why. Aside from its obvious musical catchiness (according to WordPress, “catchiness” is not a word), the song is about the inability to explain or even understand why we fall in love with someone.
I generally don’t like YouTube videos which feature lyrics over a blank screen or images of the band in question, but this time it kills two birds with one stone. Musically, I think it’s obvious why the song is easy to listen to. Babyface wrote the song. That might have something to do with it, too. It also allows me to talk about he specific lyrics without having to copy/paste them. Everyone wins.
So, the song begins in the narrative form with T-Boz telling a story about this one time on the 4th of July that she was cruising in a park with Chilli, but possibly not Left Eye. At some point, Chilli tells T-Boz that a guy is into her, saying that she’s the “finest thang he’d ever seen.” Pretty straightforward plot. But then she stops telling the story and does some editorializing:
I must admit to you, I’ve heard them lines a time or two. Although for some apparent reason monkey lines are now in season. Lights off, lights on, I guess the grove is on, and so am I.
What she’s saying is that she’s already heard that crap. But for a reason she doesn’t understand, it works this time. She goes on to say that she “guesses” it’s on. Both sentiments imply that she has no real control over what’s happening to her in this situation.
T-Boz continues the narrative in the second verse, but with more telling detail. She “want’nt (which I think was not) gone be nobody’s fool.” She was indifferent towards the overall situation and was actively against participation in pointless conversation and particularly against new relation. ships. But then it happens again:
I must admit to you, when I heard the lines you threw, although it usually turns me off, this time you have turned me on.
And then her inability to understand why she is falling in love is perfectly articulated in the bridge:
Why do I feel the way I do, when all I can think about is you? What was it in a line that made me fall for you? Do you know why I am diggin’, diggin’, diggin’ on you?
They’re all questions. She has no idea why she’s falling in love even as she is aware that she is.
I love this song because it’s true. For me at least.
When I think about all of the best relationships I’ve been in, they have a single thing in common: they just sort of happened. When I think about the relationships that failed to get off the ground or reach even some kind of cruising altitude, I feel as if I tried too hard to make them work. I don’t think I can prove some kind of cause-and-effect relationship, but it feels like it’s there.
There are several thousand reasons why Lynnette and I should not have ever gotten together. They include, but are not limited to: we have nothing in common, she traditionally did not date Asian guys, I did not historically date Filipino girls, and of course, we were both involved in other relationships.
As Lynnette and I first started hanging out – she, working on nursing stuff, and I, grading quizzes on The Odyssey – the thought of being with her never crossed my mind. Of course I thought she was beautiful. But so what? She was unattainable. She might as well have been Jessica Alba: it wasn’t going to happen. So I never tried. I sat there saying Phil things (read: stupid) and talking about Phil things (read: pointless), and really, that’s who I am. Or was. Okay, am. But then somehow, as those feelings were sneaking up on me, I denied them. It wasn’t going to happen. Long story (that you’ve already read) short: It did.
I guess the point is this: I can tell you at length and in specific detail, the things I love about Lynnette. But so many years later, I am no better at being able to say how or why I fell in love with her. It just happened. When I look back at the best things in my life – the Mets (and baseball in general), Lynnette, other relationships, going to LMU, even Mad (okay, biologically, I know how that happened. But you know what I mean) – they all, for reasons I can’t explain, just happened.
The obvious explanation for all this has something to do with lack of expectations and the reduced risk of disappointment, but I don’t think that’s it. I think that there are simply some things which we have no control over, even if we’re aware of them. They just take on a life of their own (in the case of my daughter, literally) and become these things that even years later, even with perspective, are wonderful and magical in part because they can’t be explained.