Mope Like Me: ‘Til Tuesday, “David Denies”

Written by Mope Like Me, Music

Welcome to the latest Popdose column to address our overall lack of self-esteem, Mope Like Me. White Label Wednesday fans, fear not — that column is still alive and well and will return next week and every other week after that. But eventually you have to stop dancing and unwind, and that’s what Mope Like Me is all about. Or, as Kurt Cobain once said, it’s about the comfort in being sad.

It only makes sense that I christen this feature with an Aimee Mann song — indeed, I could spend the rest of the year using nothing but Aimee Mann songs — but we begin with “David Denies” for a couple other reasons: one, it’s a viewpoint that various women from my past can unfortunately relate to, and two, it actually calls me out by name in the process.

“David Denies,” from ‘Til Tuesday’s awesome, awesome 1986 album Welcome Home (more on it later), is sung from the point of view of the other woman, detailing her hope that the love of her life will eventually figure out what he wants — and that she’ll be what he wants — but being rather matter-of-fact about the reality of the situation. The song’s power lies in its refusal to wallow in self-pity; the other woman obviously isn’t happy about the situation, but she’s adult enough to know that bitterness and spite will not help her case. And then there’s that chorus.

David denies that he’ll ever change his mind (but he always changes)
David denies, but he’s left his love behind

Ouch. That was so, so me. Always convinced that I was doing the right thing but never actually doing the right thing. Again, the beauty of the song is its narrator’s objectivity, something you wouldn’t expect from someone having an affair. Passion is supposed to cloud your judgment and make you crazy, right? Not so for Ms. Mann. She’s cool as a cucumber, even though it’s not likely she’ll have her way.

In 2002 I wrote an embarrassingly revealing piece on Welcome Home for PopMatters, where I detailed the ways that the album reflected my relationship with a college girlfriend. It was cathartic, to be sure, and the ex in question even read the piece and complimented me on it. “That brought back a lot of memories. Most of them good,” she said. A very levelheaded observation given the circumstances. Mann would have been proud.

That’s it for this week. Join me again in two weeks when I highlight a song written by a second-generation Beatle and produced by Lord Jefito’s beloved Patrick Leonard. Ta.