Save Me From I, Me, Mine: Is This k.d. lang’s Message?

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Interpreting lyrics is one of those endeavors that can quickly become a field day for wanna-be pundits. And it could well be that I am guilty of this. So k.d., or others, if  my attempts here are existentially unbearable for you, just leave a comment to set the record straight.

It is no secret why I write this blog as is noted in previous posts like Obsession, and A Note on the Images. And one question many have asked me is “what do you think about when you are thinking about k.d. lang?”. For years, I always sputtered an “I dunno”, shrugging my incensed shoulders . But since the start of this page, I see now what I have been thinking for all these years. One of the things is the mystery of “Save Me”. What does this song mean?

Do you remember  when you first heard it? I do, and mostly I remember “watching” a huge proverbial question mark erect itself over my head. Of course, it seems to be a love song; a song (common to k.d fare) about not feeling too secure about what is going on.  This part is not so mysterious. What is unclear is WHO is the target audience of this song? Is it an Other, or is it ourselves…Maybe I should not admit that this question has awoken me at night

The reason I question at all who the “target audience” is,  is because of the first two lines. “Save me from you, but pave me the way to you”. Unless this song is about an abusive relationship (emotionally or otherwise), it calls into question who the “you” is. Because when we are totally in love, literally “love sick”, we do not care about being saved. We will do anything to be with that person. Hence, being in love is an “illness”, and this is why it passes. For if it didn’t,  most of us would be dead and the species would wither away. (When I look back and some of the Doozies I had picked out as a partner, oye, my life could have easily ended had I not fallen out of love). I submit that this song is about the relationship we all have, or likely have, with ourselves and that it chronicles a common progression in our spiritual development.

In the first stanza it is established that the small self is resisting an understanding of  its relationship to the bigger self. In Buddhist terms, the “small self”  is the one that tends to pass itself off as “more real” than the larger self. This interpretation is bolstered by the line “lead me upon the captive free” which implies that the small self is only seemingly trapped in an illusion of importance. The small self is free to go, anytime. But for now, it is resisting.

In the second stanza, the small self is asking  that the big self come forth and that the small self  be allowed to shrink away. The small self literally asks to be “sold”, to be eliminated such that only a basic ego of daily  live remains. It pleads to be supervised to ensure that its sense of itself does not spill out in to the realm of Being that it should not. The mother metaphor points to the earth and its relationship to the larger self that emerges when the small self acquiesces. “Watch over me with a mother’s eyes, judging myself only to glorify”. The small self is relieved to know that it is not being judged; that instead its “mistakes” or “errors” are seen in ways that highlight the process of coming to know itself.

In the third stanza we see that the small self has realized its place in the world; a place where it cannot even walk or stand; a place in the universe where it must be carried. Here we see the small self relinquishing itself of its oh-so-important sense of itself. It finds its true place in the world and it is not as important or meaningful as it once thought itself to be. This realization has brought it to its “knees” and it cannot walk. The small self has, in many ways, died. It beseeches the larger self to “clothe (its) desire with spell or prayer” and it promises to “shroud” itself in the understanding that it is not how it understood itself to be earlier. In the end, the small self is almost relieved to have finally understood its place in the face of the Other (capital O), the larger self who lives as one collective group of beings.

Save Me  found on the album “Ingenue”

Save me, save me from you
But pave me the way to you
Lead me upon the captive free
Gracious and tame like love can be
Lead me upon

Spoil me, spoil me with you
And sell me with the world of you
Watch over me with a mother’s eyes
Judging my worth only to glorify
Watch over me

Save me, save me
Save me, save me

Carry, carry me through
And bury all my doubts of you
Clothe my desire with spell or prayer
I’ll shroud every sign of need I swear
Clothe my desire

Save me, save me
Save me, save me

Save me, save me
Save me, save me
Save me

Songwriters
MILLER, LANCE / WARREN, BRETT / WARREN, BRAD / CUNNINGHAM, AUSTIN

Read more: K. D. Lang – Save Me Lyrics | MetroLyrics

2 Comments

  1. I dunno. Kd seems to suffer from the obsession for unobtainable straight women, from which many lesbians need a bit of saving as it’s a bit self destructive. Ingenue was written when she was about to move to LA to be near the married,hetero ,object of her affections.She is a human being like the rest of us and was a young ,career driven woman when she wrote these words. 25 years on, the lyrics take on a different meaning.

    Like

  2. Now this one is gonna take several re-reads and it’s going to hang around for awhile.
    Makes me wonder about almost every relationship I’ve ever gotten into….THAT sure didn’t work. I seem to be seeing fuzzily how to save me here lately. Sure took long enough. Maybe I will live long enough to sort of understand that. ???

    Liked by 1 person

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