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Repost: “See a Little Light”

Posted by purplemary54 on November 7, 2012

Note:  This is just a little repost from the early days of the jukebox.  Now with 100% more video!

Husker Du (sorry, I have never been able to figure out how to do umlauts and accents and things) is one of the legendary post-punk bands.  I like them, but I didn’t hear them until long after I’d heard Bob Mould’s post-HD music.

“See a little Light” is probably the first time I heard him (which makes sense, since it was the first single off his first solo album).  I was instantly hooked.  The acoustic strumming that opens it is undeniable.  There’s something in it, an emotion bigger than the chords themselves, I’ve never been able to put my finger on.  The whole song is like that.  I waver between sad and happy when I listen.  The chorus is extremely catchy.  I mean, I get why the song wasn’t a huge hit; it strikes me as a little too cerebral for the Top 40, possibly a little too bipolar, too (what with the mood swings and all).  But, c’mon: “When I see a little light, I know you will, I can see it in your eyes, I know you still care.  But if you want me to go, you should just say so.”  Tell me Kelly Clarkson wouldn’t kill for those lines.  Even though he knows the relationship is over, he’s still hoping to put it back together.

Hope.  That’s what I hear in those opening chords.  It’s the most hopeful opening riff I’ve ever heard.  It runs through the whole song.  Mould structures everything perfectly to create an atmosphere of hope radiating throughout what sounds like a hopeless situation.  After all, “I guess I should have known. . . you’re already saying goodbye.”  The guy in this song could be praying to Saint Jude just as easily as he’s begging his lover to stay.  But there’s no way he’ll stay (yeah, “he”; Mould is gay).  The end of this relationship is no mystery to the singer, probably why he’s so resigned to the inevitable.

I love this song.  It’s one of my two favorites by him (the other is Sugar’s “If I Can’t Change Your Mind”).  I don’t know if it’s a favorite because it’s so accessible, or because it’s the first one I heard by him (favorite TP & the Heartbreakers song is “You Got Lucky” because I heard it first).  Some of his solo and Husker Du work is less accessible.  Part of me thinks this is because it’s so personal there isn’t room for anybody else in the music.  I had a poetry teacher tell me once that I needed to make room for the reader in my poems.  If you write so personally, so self-referentially, that no one else understands the experience, then there’s no room for anyone else to experience the emotions you’re trying to get across.  I feel that way about Bob Mould’s work a lot.  He has acknowledged that he often wrote/writes from a place of anger, and while anger can be conveyed universally, it’s a little harder to open up to the world that way.  You really write for yourself when you’re angry.  The trick is conveying that emotion to other people, making them feel what you’re feeling.  And that is the difference between angry and other feelings.  It’s easier to access happiness or heartbreak. Or in this case, hope in the face of hopelessness.


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