At one of the thrift stores I and some of the ladies I was staying with went to during the feast this year at Steamboat Springs, where I chauffeured and they shopped, a moderately obscure Rod Stewart song played on the radio that one of the ladies I was with made it a point to comment that she did not like that song. The song, “Stay With Me,” by Faces, a band that Rod Stewart fronted in the early 1970’s and that was recently inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame over many more worthy acts, was a top 20 hit written by Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood, and is about a one-night stand promised on the condition that the woman must be gone when he wakes up. He wanted her to stay the night, not stay for life, and in light of the husky vocals of the singer and its immoral content, it is no surprise that the song did not please the ear of the people I was with.
What struck me about the song, though, was that it reminded me of a song I was familiar with from my own teen years, as it was a moderate hit on the radio where I lived, the song “Wishing I Was There,” by Natalie Imbruglia. A follow-up to her smash hit “Torn,” “Wishing I Was There” is credited to Natalie Imbruglia along with co-writers Phil Thornalley (the producer to the song) and Colin Campsie. Yet the song is recorded in a similar key (“Stay With Me” on an open E-tuned guitar and “Wishing I Was There” in F Major), with very similar chord progressions, and even lyrical borrowing. Given the fact that other artists  have been sued successfully for the same sort of borrowing, it seems pretty likely that the three co-writers of the song would have faced a stiff legal challenge to defend their ownership of the song given the level of borrowing that exists and the fact that “Wishing I Was There” does not give any sort of sample or co-writing credit to Messrs. Stewart and Wood. It is fortunate that no lawsuit has yet occurred.
What makes the similarities even more noticeable is that the songs deal with similar themes. Rod Stewart thinks that a particular lady is pretty enough to spend the night with, but is not interested in a longer commitment, while Natalie Imbruglia is in love with an unfaithful man who she knows will leave him, but she wishes he would stay with her, even if she doesn’t want him to tell her that he loves her or needs her in the morning. Listening to both songs leads to some obvious questions. For example, why would Rod Stewart think that a woman was good enough to sleep with but not good enough to love? What is the point of a night in bed with someone if one does not want to explore them mind, heart, body, and spirit, to be joined as one? Likewise, if a lovely lady like Miss Imbruglia is going to be attracted enough and attached enough to a man to wish that she was wherever he was, why not accept his declaration about love, and why begin a relationship with the knowledge that it will go bad? Surely we all ought to at least hope, even if perhaps we hope against hope, that things will turn out well, and that we have enough ability to communicate and connect with others that there is at least some chance of lasting success in love? Or else why try at all?
Perhaps that is the most lasting consequence of our societal decadence, the way in which cynicism and an absence of hope serve to reduce our expectations of other people to nearly nothing because we simply do not trust that anyone wishes to stick around, or finds us interesting to enjoy our company long after they have heard all of our stories and seen our hearts and minds, shared our time and our interests. I do not think we are truly that boring and that absence of growth that someone has nothing to gain from stability, nor do I think that the off chance that we might find someone who is equally or more compatible is any reason why we should not seek to build what is lasting. Of course, that is so long as we know we are decent people and are with decent people, however long that may take to prove to our satisfaction. Perhaps it is simply that we find hope and trust too vulnerable to lay bare to someone else the wounds of our heart, the fears in our minds, and the scars on our spirit. If our desires are too powerful that we cannot restrain ourselves from being naked in body, and some of us are fortunate enough to have such restraint, many more of us hide the rest of us, yet without having a standard by which someone might show themselves worthy, and in hiding ourselves, and not revealing the deepest and most interesting parts of ourselves, we allow others to know us and think they know everything, and feel justified in not wishing to stick around and see the rest of us. And that is a great shame.
 See, for example: