I Wanna Love Somebody but I Don’t Know How

“Sucker’s Prayer” is the classic rock song buried on the synth-fever-dream that is the Decemberists’ I’ll Be Your Girl, and it hides an extremely clever bit of thematic harmony. When the chorus comes in, supported by a literal chorus, it subverts standard tropes of unrequited or failed love by describing a non-existent one:

I wanna love somebody but I don’t know how / I’ve been so long lonely and it’s getting me down

Are there sexual implications here, you ask? Yes. Yes, there are. Which is absolutely nothing new for a band that has hidden a lot of sexy talk behind their nerdy veneer. And the song’s most clever iteration of its themes comes from the structure of its final line, an unaccompanied repeat of the first bit of the chorus, “I wanna love somebody but I don’t know how.” And therein lies the brilliance: In a song about impotent romance and unfulfilled desire, it’s an act of genius that Meloy ends on a line that doesn’t finish the phrase or complete the melody, leaving the listener as unsatisfied as the narrator. This is how you tell a story through song, people.


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