Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Handle with Care


Sometimes you can't understand a song until you're the right age to really hear it. Grooving to the Traveling Wilburys' "Handle with Care" as a kid, I felt the loneliness, the wistful regret, and the tentative yet powerful sense of hope in its lyrics, but I didn't understand any of it. That would come later.

That's what happens once you live for a while: you get beaten down and battered 'round, you've been uptight and made a mess more often than you care to recall. If you're lucky, you find people you can lean on that will not only accept but also return your love. Most importantly, they'll handle you with care.

The song is such a nakedly honest declaration of loneliness, about feeling like a screw up, while reflecting on the various messes that make up a life. It's universal. Who hasn't been sent up and shot down? That's every day for most of us. We're all yearning for a way out of the loneliness, though: I still have some love to give, and dammit if you're not adorable.

For a certain kind of delicate and overly thoughtful soul, "Handle with Care" is a manifesto: we're fragile fuck-ups, sure, but we still need love. Appreciating this song probably means you're creeping through your thirties or forties and, for the first time, feeling your own mortality; in other words, a walking cliche. Being aware of this is half the battle; it allows you to accept your connection to the song in an entirely sincere way, without any traces of irony. In doing so, you're accepting yourself, and all of those times you've been fobbed off and fooled, robbed and ridiculed. And if you're fortunate to find someone who'll lean his or her body next to yours and dream on with you, well, then all the better.




*****

Been beat up and battered 'round
Been sent up, and I've been shot down
You're the best thing that I've ever found
Handle me with care

Reputations changeable
Situations tolerable
Baby, you're adorable
Handle me with care

I'm so tired of being lonely
I still have some love to give
Won't you show me that you really care?

Everybody's got somebody to lean on
Put your body next to mine, and dream on

I've been fobbed off, and I've been fooled
I've been robbed and ridiculed
In daycare centers and night schools
Handle me with care

Been stuck in airports, terrorized
Sent to meetings, hypnotized
Overexposed, commercialized
Handle me with care

I'm so tired of being lonely
I still have some love to give
Won't you show me that you really care?

Everybody's got somebody to lean on
Put your body next to mine, and dream on

I've been uptight and made a mess
But I'll clean it up myself, I guess
Oh, the sweet smell of success
Handle me with care

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