What We All Know About 'Somebody That I Used To Know'

Written by Rhiannon Hill
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gotya what we all know about somebody that i used to know rhiannon hill zani 3.

As I sit down to write this, just re checking YouTube I can see that Gotye's massive song now has almost £160m hits.

About three weeks ago I found a link to it on my Facebook page and was immediately sucked in. Because that's what this compelling song does. I was happy to be sucked in, it's simply brilliant.

Undoubtedly Gotye, an award winning Belgian-Australian songwriter and performer, has played a blinder with his simple Am-G-F sequence, a sequence which has underpinned hit after hit including classical music over the centuries. Then there's his quirky synth theme which is like Baa Baa Black Sheep in a minor key, and the simply fantastic video using a clever time-delay art theme and some pretty superb eye and shoulder acting from Gotye and his collaborator on this single, Kimbra.

Being a muso, of course, I sat down and learned the song immediately, yum, such pleasure in playing it for myself.

gotya what we all know about somebody that i used to know rhiannon hill zani 2.But it was the lyric that really struck me, and I suspect that among the millions who have hit the YouTube video a fair proportion totally relate to the layers and layers of story that Gotye has brilliantly crafted into this song, too.

He's already been described as the 'new Peter Gabriel' although to be fair, the 32 year old artist already had a successful, if not globally smashing 10 year career behind him.

But like Gabriel, and all great songwriters...Dylan, Neil Young, Elton John, his lyrical skill is in being able to convey an entire situation or issue in one line.

As a couple psychotherapist, as well as a muso, I thought it would be fun to analyse the lines because I, among those millions, am also totally relating to this lyric.

'Now and then I think of when we were together.'
The man in the song is grieving being dumped and is struggling to get over the loss.
'When you said you were so happy you could die. '
This is code for the perfect but sadly, temporary infatuation that many of us feel when we jump into a relationship.
'Told myself that you were right for me'
He desperately wanted this to work to the point of denial
'But felt so lonely in your company'
He didn't feel they could relate or get enough of her attention, there wasn't any 'emotional intimacy.'
'But when we found that we could not make sense, well you said that we could still be friends'

It broke down, but he wanted to keep the connection, this is a narcissistic tendency but more of that later. If he can keep the connection then the dumping won't be so humiliating – humilitation, or being wrong, is the greatest fear of the narcissist.
'But I'll admit that I was glad that it was over.'
Well, reality kicked in eventually, but he gets a bit sulky in the I'll admit part.
Then pouty melancholia gives way to a lot more anger as he crashes into his chorus:
'But you didn't have to cut me off, make out like it never happened and we were nothing'
He clearly has no idea why the girl really left.
'And I don't even need your love, but you treat me like a stranger and that feels so rough'

gotya what we all know about somebody that i used to know rhiannon hill zani 1.j

Well, I'm just fine on my own, he pouts, ok, it didn't work, but you've hurt me by the way you treated me, don't you know how sensitive I am? He is saying.
Then there's a bit of a tantrum-ey bit when he said she didn't have to stoop low, send her friends to collect her records – he's aghast she simply did not want to see him – and change her phone number? How DARE she? Here is the clue to why the relationship broke down as we'll see in Kimbra's verse:
'Now and then I think of all the times you screwed me over'
He resented her lack of attention and intimacy so acted out
Had me believing it was always something that I'd done
I can imagine him blaming her for all their conflicts, and a very powerful, controlling attitude that seduced her into thinking she was in the wrong. The classic marker of a true narcissist – it's never their fault.
'But I don't wanna live that way, reading into everything you say'
Poor girl, she had to walk on eggshells and try not to bring out his sulky, angry controlling side. But it got too hard for her and in the end she bolted. She might even have been a bit afraid of him, hence the retrieval of her records and the changed phone number.
'You said that you could let it go and I wouldn't find you hung up on somebody that you used to know'
She suspects that he can be more than controlling, a bit obsess-ey so again, decided to cut off, and we get the second chorus where he reiterates that he just didn't understand what happened.
At no point during the narrative does he take any responsibility – 'when WE found that we could not make sense'

I see a lot of couples in my psychotherapy practice, this is classic conflict. People feel overly possessive of partners, try to control them then get angry when they resist and resentment kicks in, resentment will corrode a relationship eventually.
Her part in it was not to recognise his sensitivity and talk to him properly about his feelings, and the issues that arose once the infatuation wore off.
This song exquisitely defines and describes a lot of what happens in relationships nowadays. I think I'll print off the lyric and give it to some of my couple clients.......!!

Oh, and if you've been meditating in a cave, or in a coma, for the last two months:



Rhiannon Hill is songwriter and leader of WYND, Brighton based women's rock band, and a practising Couple Psychotherapist.

Brighton Hove Counselling

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Read 3155 times Last modified on Friday, 08 May 2015 15:27
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