Friday Fun: Boss Top Ten, #6--"She's the One"

"She's the One" (off of Born to Run (1975))
Concert Footage:  Madison Square Garden, New York (U.S.A.), 2007

That thunder in your heart at night when you're kneeling in the dark,
it say's you're never gonna leave her
But there's this angel in her eyes that tells such desperate lies
and all you want to do is believe her
And tonight you'll try just one more time to leave it all behind and to break on through
Oh, she can take you, but if she wants to break you,
she's gonna find out that ain't so easy to do
And no matter where you sleep tonight or how far you run
Whoa-oh, she's the one
She's the one

The message of "She's the One," if reduced to one cliched sentence, would be: "Women; can't live with them, can't live without them."  Like I said, it that is well-worn ground for songwriters, which is why it is cliched.  But there are treatments of cliched tropes that further the cliche, and there are treatments of cliched tropes that cut through the fog and get to what is actually at stake.  "She's the One," for me, belongs in the later category.

Here's something that I am firmly convinced is true, but few are willing to say out loud--straight men, deep down, are afraid of women. I say "straight men" because I think this fear this is rooted in attraction, and thus the dynamic would be different for gay men and I can't really speak to that.  The fear, at its heart, is that men will basically do whatever women want them to do, because at the end of the day the power of attraction has a hold on men at a level beyond the conscious.  And it does not take massive insight on the part of women to figure this out, so men are afraid of being led by the nose and manipulated and exploited by a women they are attracted to.  The fear, ultimately, is a fear of being vulnerable.

There are innumerable bad and destructive ways to respond to this fear.  As a noted philosopher correctly noted:

I think much of the terrible violence and misogyny we see directed at women by men has its origins in this fear--because I am afraid that I will be made vulnerable, I lash out (whether verbally, or physically, or, more abstractly, socially and culturally) to protect myself from the thing that makes me vulnerable.

Less bad, but still deeply problematic, is Saint Augustine's solution, which is to pathologize the loss of control inherent in sexual desire as an expression of "concupiscence."  This leads to all sorts of collateral problems, from the weird speculation that Adam had total control of his erection prior to the Fall to a general closing off of the vibrancy and joy of sexuality (a bad outcome discussed in a previous song in this series, "Human Touch.")

No, the best solution to this fear, and to any vulnerability, is to "lean in" to the fear.  Yup, she's got you; at the end of the day, you are going to be doing things you wouldn't otherwise do because she wants you to do them.  And, if she is a bad person, then there is a very real chance that this is going to turn out badly for you.  You can, and should, take reasonable precautions to armor yourself in order to mitigate the damage somewhat, but at the end of the day that is the price of being alive and being human and taking the risk of reaching out to another person.  ("Oh, she can take you, but if she wants to break you, she's gonna find out that ain't so easy to do.")

This process of "leaning in" to the fear is what I think "She's the One" is about.  Because "she's the one," you are going to be taken on a ride that you are not particularly sure you want to go on.  Rather than fight it, or run away from it, Bruce-as-narrator is accepting that process.  The song is ambiguous as to whether the person on the other side of this equation--the "she"--is cynically exploiting our narrator or simply being who she is.  This, too, is real life--you often can't pick out the bad ones until it is too late.  Nevertheless, you just have to roll with it and see where it leads.  

And no matter where you sleep tonight or how far you run
Whoa-oh, she's the one


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