’90s Song of the Week: The Flys’ “Got You (Where I Want You)”

Hey, what’s the point of this? Oh, hey, what’s your favorite song? Maybe we could hum along. Well, I think you’re smart, you sweet thing. Tell me your name, I’m dying here. –Adam Paskowitz, “Got You (Where I Want You)”

I don't recall ever seeing this at Tower Records.

I don’t recall ever seeing this at Tower Records.

“Got You (Where I Want You)” is a single from The Fly’s 1998 release Holiday Man. It represents everything I know about the band. My online resources lumps The Flys into the genre of post-grunge and that’s just fine. The video’s imagery serves as a fine artifact of the late ’90s: lots of black clothing, huge wraparound shades, and a true ’90’s icon in Katie Holmes. This song was featured in the Katie Holmes film Disturbing Behavior. This explains the random clips and also possibly the guys in letterman jackets standing near the edge of a cliff. It’s a good thing, too, otherwise The Flys might have spent their lifetime earnings just getting Katie to show up for this shoot.

The right half of this photo rates somewhere between 21 and 24 chee-huus.

The right half of this photo rates somewhere between 21 and 24 chee-huus.

Before I knew who performed this song, I heard the impossibly catchy chorus in my head. It’s one of those songs that hovered in the background during my college years, drowned out by bands like Incubus and the Deftones. From time to time, that chorus would drift in and out of my head like a ghost until very recently when I made the attempt to find it on YouTube. This viewing took place roughly two months ago and it was the first time I heard the song in its entirety. I listened to the lyrics and just about the time that weird rap verse showed up, I shouted “This is terrible!” I was in love with the song. I’ve posted the first verse at the top of this page and to see them in print makes me wince. First, it is the play-by-play of one guy’s feeble attempt to speak to a woman for the first time, then it transforms into color commentary and hard-hitting analysis. Feel the flames coming off the jet engines as he speaks, hear the plane hit the face of a mountain in those last three words.

Is the first question rhetorical? Internal? Is he asking about her musical interests in a desperate attempt to find some common ground? Why hum and not sing?  He makes the judgment that she’s smart and sweet before he knows her name? Is his commentary on his rapidly approaching “death” internal, or does he actually say it out loud in an attempt at self-deprecating humor? And after all of that, is “got you where I want you” a desperate Hail Mary toward the endzone of irony ?

I can relate to this singer’s clumsy attempts just as I’ve related to Jason Biggs’ Jim, the socially and sexually awkward archetype from the American Pie films. I sucked at talking to girls. I would look into a female’s eyes and start to talk, but then the voice in my head would kick into super-duper-ultimate-high-gear and begin the second, third, fourth, and fifth-guessing. My speaking rate would increase exponentially. My tongue would knot. I would feel all of this happening, then compensate with humor to try for a course correction and that usually made things worse. All of those puzzled expressions on the faces of cute girls… Thinking about these exploits fills me with a weird mixture of shame and embarrassment even now. These feelings stem from a well of insecurity, the sense that I had no idea what I was doing, no matter how many times I mentally ran through the entire conversation and all its likely permutations. All of that never really changed, I simply happened to luck into a person who found it charming. Or could tolerate it. Or decided my other qualities outweighed my awkwardness and subsequent compensation. I don’t know how or why. You have to ask Lynnette.

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