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i had a really amazing crush at the end of middle school. we were best friends and talked day and night and we were obviously in crazy adolescent love with each other. but for whatever reason neither of us acted on it until our last 8th grade dance. right before we’d split off into different schools and different lives.
i distinctly remember slow dancing with her and having all this space in between us because i had an erection. she said something sweet like “i love how you want to talk to me and look at me while we’re slow dancing.” we still talk. she’s still really sweet.
i always figured she knew i had an erection. that when we were grinding it must’ve seemed obvious. it’s not a unique occurrence in adolescent or grown-up dancing for a guy to get an erection. so i got the idea for this song thinking about this phenomenon while listening to next’s “too close”—a great 90s r&b jam about grinding and having an erection.
my song isn’t really about erections at all though. it’s about how the physical space i put between me and my middle school date is unimaginably closer than the psychological space i put between me and every girl i dated after that. psychological distances are scary! i am a still young person but i have lived through a lot of experiences. it gets harder every year for me to feel a connection with the lives and places and personalities i’ve cycled through. naturally it also gets increasingly harder to let people into that complex chaos that is the fragile fractured mosaic where my soul and psyche meet.
i wanted the song to have an “only you” back-to-the-future slow dance vibe in the beginning and with each verse have the instrumentation stripped away. so it feels like you’re at a crowded dance and then slowly you feel like you’re completely alone.
sorry this is a sad explanation! if you want to just think the song is about erections, please think that.
Take a shift for the safety patrol
Serve soft drinks awhile
Then hustle into the hallway
Find your girl, make her smile
Dance to songs that you never liked
Without stopping to care
Lights are dimmed for the slow jams
There’s young love in the air
But then the hormones of thirteen
You lose all hope for restraint
Feel that bulge in your blue jeans
Creeping in on her waist
Close but not too close
Hard but not too hard
Leave some space for Jesus
Leave some space for love
At least those days you were vulnerable
In ways that always made perfect sense
Oh the girls well they had to know
What made you awkward and distant then
But when you grow up your skeletons
They start to fester and multiply
Even if you can hide them well
You’ll still be living a quiet lie
Never quite who they think you are
Losing sight of the boundaries
Where your most intimate moments
Blur with personal tragedy
I hope one day you’ll dance with me
I promise I will control myself
There are words I could whisper you
They’d bring us closer than sex itself
This world is run by unspoken rules
I am a creature of silence
Finding comfort in all the space
That separates and confines us
So when my soul reaches puberty
And it can’t help from touching you
I hope you’ll coyly acknowledge it
And let its warmth grow inside of you
You’d be close but not too close
It would be hard but not too hard
Just leave some space between us
Leave some space for love
from Never Wanted to Be Cool,
released February 26, 2013
Backup Vocals: Shawnee Kilgore, Courtney Howell, Leah Nobel
Trumpet: Darian Momanaee