“That’s What You Get for Lovin’ Me”

…is a song by Gordon Lightfoot which falls into a kind of genre of “love ’em and leave ’em” songs. These are songs about (usually) a man who romances a woman, seduces her, hangs around for a short time, but then gets restless and can’t help it but hit the road again. The woman, of course, always wants him to stay. What fun would it be (for the man) if the woman said, “Okay. Well, I guess you feel the urge to go, you should go.  It was nice meeting you. ”

I’ve had a hundred more like you, so don’t be blue
I’ll have a thousand ‘fore I’m through.

Here’s a list of some of them:

  • For Lovin’ Me (Gordon Lightfoot)
  • I’m Not Saying (Gordon Lightfoot)
  • Green Green (New Christy Minstrels)
  • Greenback Dollar (New Christy Minstrels)
  • We’ll Sing in the Sunshine (Gale Garnett – odd reversal: here the
    girl announces she will hang around for one year, and then leave)
  • Ramblin’ Man (Allman Brothers Band)
  • Freebird (Lynyrd Skynyrd, with pale imitation “Travelin’ Man”)*
  • Rose of Aberdeen (Ian Tyson)
  • Heard it in a Love Song (Jimmy Buffet)
  • Baby, the Rain Must Fall (Glen Yarborough)

That last one– after explaining why he must desert his girl, with a booming, incontrovertible voice:

Baby, the rain must fall
Baby, the wind must blow,
Where-ever my heart leads me,
Baby I must go,
Baby I must go.

This was a very popular song in it’s day, around 1965, and also gave it’s title (and theme) to a movie starring Steve McQueen as an aspiring singer. Wow. Weirdness prevails. Anyway, this guy, in the song, is telling his girlfriend– or maybe, in these enlightened times, his boyfriend– that he can’t stay. He has to go. He just has to. It’s not that he’s a no-account bum who exploited her, took advantage of her feelings, and is now setting out to cheat on her. Oh, no no no. He just, well, has to go. It’s a force of nature, the incontrovertible will of God, fate, destiny– all of that. Like the wind must blow. Like blowin’ in the wind, which is where the answer to the question, “did you know this before you seduced me” is.

It’s not that I’m unsympathetic. If some guy feels an utterly compelling urge to travel and see the world, hey, more power to him. And if he is able to convince some woman that he would be a fine, temporary lover– hey, go for it. It’s just that I suspect that most of these rambler-gamblers are probably a little less than forth-right about those facts at the start of a relationship.

Or maybe they’re just gay. Maybe I’m missing some code here. Maybe the whole thing fits better into the “Brokeback Mountain” sort of scenario. Can’t you just picture Jake Gyllenhaal singing, “Baby, the Rain Must Fall” as he gets back into his little pickup truck to head back to Texas? And Heath Ledger weeping in his trailer?

In that respect, the first song on the list, “For Lovin’ Me”, by Gordon Lightfoot, is refreshingly frank:

That’s what you get for lovin’ me,
Everything you had is gone, as you can see
That’s what you get for lovin’ me.

…I’ve had a hundred more like you,
So don’t be blue.
I’ll have a thousand ‘fore I’m through.

That’ a refreshing tone. It’s like 2:35 seconds of so long, sucker.

Dylan wrote a few, but they’re different. Try “It Aint Me Babe”. He doesn’t have that bitchy God told me to see the world tone that the other songs have, which may make you suspect that that God-told-me-to-see-the-world tone is largely bullshit.

You say you’re looking for someone
Who will promise never to part
Someone to close his eyes for you
Someone to close his heart
Someone who will die for you and more

How good of a lyricist is Bob Dylan exactly? “Someone who will die for you and more” is brilliant. So is “close his eyes” and then “close his heart”. He is unparalleled as a lyricist.

Not one of these other so-long-baby songs can hold a light to the greatest “I’m a-leavin’ yah” song of all time, also with one of the greatest put-downs in the history of popular music, also by, of course, Bob Dylan:

Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right (Bob Dylan)

Now I aint saying you treated me unkind
You could have done better,
I don’t mind.
You just kind of wasted my precious time,
Don’t think twice, it’s all right.

Whoa! Wasted his precious time! A line that makes Meryl Streep in “The Devil Wears Prada” sound like Florence Nightingale, with her: “I’m disappointed in you…”

Love sucks.

* added 2014-04-20


SCTV’s brilliant “Gordon Lightfoot Sings Every Song Ever Written

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