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“Said I Loved You But I Lied”: An In Depth Critique

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Thanks to my best friend and her entire family (who were my primary babysitters before and after school), my childhood from ages 7 to 12 was filled with the comprehensive works of Mr. Michael “Sweet Lips” Bolton. As school let out, I would not have to scan the cars looking for my ride, instead I could simply listen for the smooth crooning of Mr. Bolton blasting from their teal green Aerostar minivan. The flowing locks of sandy blonde hair, the equally flowy silk shirts he adorned himself in – for better or for worse, these images constituted a large part of my preadolescence.

Michael Bolton was part of a pack of solo artists who dominated the recorded music scene of the late eighties to early nineties, along with Mariah Carey, Phil Collins, and Whitney Houston. Many of these singers shared songwriters who seemingly had the power ballad down to a formulaic science that went something like this: Verse, Chorus, Verse, Chorus, Bridge (in a different key signature of course), Chorus, Repeat Chorus a half-step up for dramatic effect, and maybe another Chorus again a half-step up until the track faded out. Michael Bolton’s songs were no exception to this rule and with them, he warbled his way deep into the hearts of soccer moms all across the United States.

Today, we are going to look at his song “Said I Loved You … But I Lied,” a song that begs the question, Do you really love me, Michael Bolton? Or are you just lying, you dirty piece of scum? Here, Michael attempts to clear up all the nonsense.

Verse I:

You are the candle, love’s the flame
A fire that burns through wind and rain
Shine your light on this heart of mine
‘Til the end of time
You came to me like the dawn through the night
Just shinin’ like the sun
Out of my dreams and into my life
You are the one, you are the one

Interpretation:

The key words in this verse have to do with nature, like “fire,” “wind,” “rain,” “dawn,” “night,” and “sun.” Here, Michael is alluding to the natural elements, things that are timeless, just like his love! The music video starts with images of rolling clouds, horses running through fire, and Michael standing in the desert looking pensively down at his hands. His shirts are always unbuttoned unnecessarily, and that’s just a little gift from him to all the ladies at home. The song starts in a minor key, suggesting unresolved psychological issues. He goes ahead and gives it all away early, insisting that the listener is “The One,” which also means, I want to get in your pants. His lady friend is seen writhing around in the desert. Why is she abandoned in a desert instead of on the cliff with Michael?! The plot thickens.

Chorus:

Said I loved you but I lied
‘Cause this is more than love I feel inside
Said I loved you but I was wrong
‘Cause love could never ever feel so strong
Said I loved you … but I lied

Interpretation:

Here, Michael is pulling out all the stops. The mood changes from mysterious to happy, presumably because he has realized that this smooth ass chorus will seal the deal.  He’s also playing head games now, as in the title he claims to be lying when he said that he “loved you,” thereby causing concern for the lady in question. Here, he pulls the rug out from underneath us by explaining that his statement was invalidated because it actually surpassed what he thought love was. He had no idea! But now he knows, so he’s standing on a cliff in a redneck tuxedo, letting the wind blow his half unbuttoned shirt around. An eagle also flies overhead, which is a good sign, because aren’t those things endangered?

Verse II:

With all my soul I’ve tried in vain
How can mere words my heart explain
This taste of heaven so deep so true
I’ve found in you
So many reasons in so many ways
My life has just begun
Need you forever, I need you to stay
You are the one, you are the one

Interpretation:

The second verse returns back to a minor key, and reveals the source of his anxiety. The line, “I need you to stay,” suggests that the woman has had it playing second fiddle to his luxurious hair. In the video, he has found a cavern and has changed outfits. In the meantime, he’s having flashbacks of him and the woman from earlier making out on the floor of the desert. Why is he just standing around in caves and gesticulating? She’s probably dehydrating! Again, he insists that she is “The One,” and looks forlorn.

Bridge:

You came to me like the dawn through the night
Just shinin’ like the sun
Out of my dreams and into my life
You are the one, you are the one

Interpretation:

We get it, Michael. You’re starting to look desperate.

Repeated Chorus, in which he is back on the cliff and having more flashbacks of sexy-time with his lady friend whom he has apparently left to fend for herself somewhere in the Sonoran Desert. Then the song launches into a romantic guitar solo while showing images of sexy times in the desert, an eagle flying through fire, some more horses, and Michael Bolton falling off the cliff.

I’m just kidding; he’s still on the cliff, but only now it’s …. Key Change Time!!!! This is my favorite part of any nineties power ballad – the chorus repeats itself, and each time, the singer’s intensity increases to almost manic levels of conviction. The hand gestures get bigger, the landscape shots get wider, and the woman starts writhing around more. This can be said of pretty much any music video of the era. Eventually, Michael tones it down a bit and reiterates the fact that he was lying in his previous statement, and more horses gallop through fire until the song fades out.

To sum everything up, the lyrics and video suggest that Michael is begging for forgiveness for taking his lady friend for granted. Or, maybe she’s pissed because he stranded her in the desert. She’s been holding out in the bedroom, and he wrote this over-the-top song to win her back. Typical Michael Bolton. He probably leaves his hair products all over the sink and borrows her night gowns to make silk vests for himself. I mean, who’s gonna put up with that mess, right? You go, girl. I sure hope she found her way out of that desert.

 Photo Credit: wikipedia.com

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Patricia Scull - Patty the Pauper

Patricia Scull - Patty the Pauper

Patty loves cats, cheese, and irony, so although she is currently a petite Asian chick, she is well on her way to becoming a fat, smelly, cat lady later in life. Born in Korea and adopted to white people in the South, Patty spent her youth frolicking happily in the cornfields of eastern North Carolina. She currently lives in the East Village and can be found boozing her way through the bars (and streets) of New York.