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18 December 2004 @ 03:50 am
Help please with definitions or connotations or somesuch, eh?  

The song "Faithful" by Eric Andersen has the following chorus:

You said lovin' you and leavin' you's
The hardest thing to do
To give my foot another chance
To try another shoe
But ever time I see someone
I'm always seeing you
Though I have not always been faithful
I always have been true

My question is: What is the distinction between "faithful" and "true"?

Can anybody help me out here? I'm sure those last two lines mean something, but I've just never been able to put my finger on it. I'd like to, because it's a beautiful tune, but I just can't. I do so like to understand things…

Thanking you in advance,
Da Fredcritter

Current Mood: curiouspuzzled
Current Music: Eric Andersen - Blue River
Lianatezliana on December 18th, 2004 04:20 am (UTC)
My take is the artist seems to be making a distinction between what he perceives as the devotion in his heart and the weakness of his flesh.
king_tirian on December 18th, 2004 07:54 am (UTC)
I would think that the words should be reversed to have this meaning. One thinks of a proper arrow as flying "swift and true", or a kinked picture frame as being "out of true". So I would say that faithful but not true means that you've got your eye on the prize but you're not taking the best route to get there.

I see "not faithful but true" as saying that curiosity is the singer's nature, and so he is being "true to himself" by not doing the hard stuff that faith demands. I agree with those below me that the sentiment does not recommend him. Or perhaps he's using grownup words that he doesn't quite understand. ^_^
Lianatezliana on December 18th, 2004 10:24 am (UTC)
Yes that is what I meant, but I got the order reversed. I shouldn't post before coffee, clearly.
A Wandering Hobbitredbird on December 18th, 2004 04:56 am (UTC)
My guess would be that he's saying something like "I've always loved you [and only you?], even when I've had other lovers."

One more reason I dislike "faithful" to mean "sex with only one person" and nothing else.

And if that does mean "loved you and only you" the singer/narrator is basically boasting about not caring for his lovers. Feh. The more I think about this, the less I like it.
Carol Kennedycakmpls on December 18th, 2004 07:22 am (UTC)
I agree generally with both the previous comments about what the singer probably means. redbird makes some good points about the possibility that this is not an admirable stance.

However, if that's what the singer means, I don't agree with him. To my way of thinking, the singer has not been "faithful" if he (though of course a "she" could sing this) had an attachment--sexual or otherwise--to someone that was outside the parameters that he and his partner(s) had agreed to for their relationship. But in that case, in my thinking, he also has not been "true."

On the other other hand, from this single verse, it sounds to me as if the relationship is over. If that's the case, there no longer is any issue of "faithfulness." So he may mean that he has moved on sexually, but not emotionally.

the laughing leaping waterminnehaha on December 18th, 2004 08:54 am (UTC)
I think he just had to come up with a rhyme for "you" and he thought this sounded OK. Deep, even.

Skylarkerskylarker on December 18th, 2004 09:10 am (UTC)
I take it as:
Faithful = keeping to a promise or declared purpose.
True = being honest about things, whether faithful or not.
Fighting Crime with a Giant Dandelion Since 2013pameladean on December 18th, 2004 11:49 am (UTC)
It reminds me of that romantical-cynical poem by Ernest Dowson. The poem's called "Non Sum Qualis Eram Bonae sub Regno Cynarae," and its chorus is "I have been faithful to thee, Cynara, in my fashion." If he were the songwriter who's puzzled you, he'd probably say exactly the same thing, that he hasn't been faithful (he's slept with prostitutes, in his case) but he has been true (because no matter what he does, and he has done a lot of wild and crazy things, he can't forget Cynara).

barbary_coast on December 18th, 2004 12:22 pm (UTC)
Let me restate this to see if I understand the song. The singer says that although he has not been 'faithful,' he is still essentially 'true' because even when he sleeps with others, he still 'sees' only the original lover.

To me, the lyrics of this song imply that "faithful" means outwardly
monogamous: a constant, long-term expression conjugal loyalty to one person. "True" means inwardly monogamous: essentially, he is emotionally loyal and genuine to only one person despite how many others he is with.

I could almost agree with this sentiment were it not for the "I'm always seeing you" line. That line seems insulting to all of his other lovers.

I wonder if he really meant to say that he loves the first person in a unique, steadfast, and enduring manner that will never cease, even if he does emotionally and physically love others in his life? That the love he feels for this one unique lover will never be diminished even if he finds valid emotional and/or physical connections with others? That is the sort of love that I believe in.

BTW, the whole "trying on another shoe" thing? Possibly not the best image to use in a song about love and fidelity, IMO. Trying people out and then casting them off like an ill-fitting shoe is cold-blooded, don't you think?
fastfwdfastfwd on December 20th, 2004 04:23 am (UTC)
I figured "true" meant "sincere"--as in, "To thine own self be true."