Jonny the Friendly Lawyer recently offered up Somewhere Around Midnight by Airborne Toxic Event as a song which makes for a great short story. He cited his own experience around the messy end of a relationship but still seeing his ex around NYC as he went about trying to rebuild his life, and how the lyrics from the song captured exactly what it felt like – the actual physical discomfort caused by heartbreak.
It got me thinking that Linger by The Cranberries covers similar ground in that it deals with a messy relationship and heartbreak.
I swore, I swore I would be true
And honey so did you
So why were you holding her hand?
Is that the way we stand?
Were you lying all the time?
Was it just a game to you?
The difference of course is that Somewhere Around Midnight is set at a time after the relationship has ended, with the protagonist unable yet to some to terms with it. Linger is set at the horrific moment in time when the protagonist has just discovered that the relationship is doomed, and has just been hit hard with the realisation that they had been taken for a fool for a considerable amount of time. One particular reviewer, Amanda Petrusich of The New Yorker, really nailed it by describing Linger as “a hazy, sentimental song about realising that you’re on the bummer end of a lopsided relationship”.
I reckon most of us will likely have been there at some point in time, although in my case it was almost 40 years ago!
I think it is one of the saddest songs ever written, with absolutely no sign of defiance on show, but this is more than made up for with one of the two tracks that can be found on the b-side of the 12″ single:-
Never before, never again
You will ignore, I will pretend
Linger was a flop when first released in February 1993, but it went Top 20 a full twelve months later when it was re-released a full year later. Similar belated success came the way of debut album Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?, which finally reached #1 in the UK some 86 weeks after it was first released. The original version of How is one of the really outstanding tracks on said debut, but the b-side of both the 7″ and 12″ version of Linger could only be found on those pieces of vinyl until the album was given the re-released extended treatment in 2002:-
It’s an excellent two minutes of pop music, and the fact it could be relegated to the status of a b-side demonstrates how many good songs the band had at the outset.