The song is exquisite and I understand what he meant. In the song, the girl longs for a physical relationship with her boyfriend but sets limits because she is not yet ready to sleep with him. But what's truly beautiful in the song is the tension between what she herself wants and what she is willing to allow herself. Despite her longing, the fact that she desires what she cannot have, she forbids herself from going further.
There are certain people, and perhaps you know them, who must live this way. They must always go up to the edge, but it's a dangerous game to play, because they desire more. They stand upon the brink and look down, wanting so much to jump, just to feel that exhilarating rush of air as they fall. There is something exhilarating in that, in permitting oneself what one wants, in grasping at that which is forbidden. There is something nakedly joyous and beautiful in that one leap.
I feel like I am such a person. There's so much I want and that I must consciously forbid myself; it is a kind of self-defeat, the sort that Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik describes so poignantly. The beauty of this song lies in its expressing this concept so honestly, so profoundly. The words are so understated, the melody somehow connotes lightness and a kind of eternal understanding, something that I can't adequately express. There's so much meaning behind her one statement, "please." Or as Frank Kogan explains:
- Aly & AJ, "Blush": A couple of people had told me in advance what the lyrics were about: Aly saying to her guy that even though she likes his honesty it won't lead him to her bed. So she's setting rules and limits, he can go ahead and say it, make his play, and he can go further, even ("please take me under with you"), but she'll only let him go so far; yet she wants him to try, likes him brazen, wants to be wanted. So when I'm actually listening to this I'm fully prepared. Nonetheless, suddenly I'm up and pacing back and forth, with tears in my eyes. Aly's been ending each verse with, "If you must, make me blush." On the last one she pauses, goes soft, quietly inserts the word "please": "if you must—please—make me blush." And this quiet word seems to contain all her own desire, welling up within her (which is what this song is really about, finally).
Most other Aly & AJ songs tumble around with sounds and wordplay and ease of expression. This one is laborious, almost maddening, the restrictions she's putting on her guy actually being the restrictions she puts on herself, the conditions under which she allows herself to feel. (The song doesn't specify why the narrator wants to hold her sex life at bay, doesn't say whether she's simply not ready, is just not ready for him, or feels there's a moral principle involved. Aly herself is an evangelical Christian, but that label covers a lot of territory, and I don't want to project stereotypes onto it or her; possibly she feels a prohibition.) But in a pop-music world that's inundated with sex, the most passionate moment of the year comes from a careful, analytic teenager tortuously asking a guy to make out with her.
There's something frightening about the ability we have to lay ourselves bare, to be that honest with another person, to admit to liking something that one chooses not to take, to admit to mixed feelings and confusion. There's something strong in that honesty, something appealing and human, something that touches me.
It was very perceptive of my friend to see that this is my song. Thank you.