Soundtrack of My Life: “Dress Up In You” by Belle & Sebastian
In the movie “High Fidelity,” Belle & Sebastian was barely more than a punchline, dismissed as “sad bastard music,” which is not a completely unreasonable characterization. But I happen to like “sad bastard music” sometimes. However, I didn’t really pay attention to Belle & Sebastian until I heard them again in the movie “Pumpkin” with Christina Ricci. The juxtaposition of gentle music with arresting, sometimes aggressive lyrics had me hooked.
Belle & Sebastian’s song “Lord Anthony” was one of my regular anthems when I was preparing to quit my job and move from Louisiana to Los Angeles:
You’ll soon be old enough to leave them
And without a notion of a care
You’ll lift two fingers in the air to linger there
I was ready to get out of town at that point, well past “old enough to leave them.”
This is my favorite Belle & Sebastian song:
The whole construct is almost violent, but the recognition of fault in those aggressive tendencies saves it from being outright savage. The title of the song comes from a line that is creepy and beautiful as all hell:
If I could have a second skin
I’d probably dress up in you
Buffalo Bill from “Silence of the Lambs” may be the only person who would take that as a statement of love. Throughout the song, there are moments of passive-aggressive congratulations, declarations of affection through gritted teeth, and admission of guilt. It’s complicated, just like real love.