As a result of my fondness for Todd In The Shadows and his reviews of one hit wonders  I became familiar with the band Living In A Box, which is best known in the United States for their song Living In A Box from their debut album Living In A Box. The casual American music fan of the mid-to-late 1980’s would be forgiven for thinking that this was the only song of theirs worth knowing, but that is really not the case. The band has an active presence on YouTube, or at least someone does on their behalf, and a lot of their music videos are online. This gives the person who is curious a greater degree of familiarity with their work than one would get just from listening to 80’s radio stations, since in the United States their self-titled debut song was their only top 40 hit–and even it didn’t hit the top 10–and only one of their other songs, “So The Story Goes” even cracked the Hot 100 with a synth line that comes straight out of Sonic The Hedgehog, which isn’t a bad synth line if you are fond of midi music as I am.
Naturally, the band was most successful in the United Kingdom, where they notched six top 40 hits and 3 top 10’s, although they were mildly successful in Flanders, the Netherlands, Germany and Ireland, where they had three or more top 40 hits. I have found, much to my pleasure, that I like a few of their songs, but none more so than their last top 40 hit in any country, “Room In Your Heart,” the third single from their second album, “Gatecrashing.” There are many people who would listen to this song and find it to be a fairly dull Adult Contemporary ballad with Richard Darbyshire’s characteristic vocal tics, including a glorious falsetto and his usual scream. For me, though, this song is an excellent one, even if it brings uncomfortably to mind some of the characteristic longings I have that this song brings out in unintentional relief.
“Room In Your Heart” is the sort of love song written by men to women that praises a quality that men value in women much more than women seem to value in men, and that is that combination of attractiveness and inexperience. It is an oft-repeated cliche than men want to be a woman’s first, women want to be a man’s last, and the only way that both of them can be satisfied is for each of them to be each other’s one and only. The song, though, and its delicately phrased lyrics, are praising the partner for having a heart and a “room” that have never had someone inside of it before. For a variety of reasons, including the fact that it is likely easier to trust someone who is not experienced than someone who is, the narrator finds this to be something that is comforting. I must admit that I can relate to these concerns. Not being a person of a great deal of experience myself, most of my experiences with my own relationships and being involved as a more or less innocent bystander in the relationships of others have been somewhat harrowing and traumatic. It is extremely difficult for me to have trust that someone will be faithful and loyal and able to persist in a relationship if they have broken relationships or left a husband before. Presumably the narrator/singer had the same concerns in mind when he wrote this song.
A great deal of what makes the song appealing, aside from the fact that it is a gorgeous love ballad that praises virtue and good taste in a partner is the way that the video is exactly the sort of video that one would expect for such a song. The video director here was worthy of awards in the way that he understood the mood of the song and crafted a gorgeous sepia-toned video to express the combination of innocence and sensuality. We have the video set in Tuscany, in Sienna and another city, with most of the people (including the video’s love interest) dressed in white. Not only that, but the young woman in question has a short top and a flowing white dress and is playing with a streamer of sorts which all capture that mixture of playful innocence as well as romantic availability. There is that delicate balance that creates a warm and inviting atmosphere, including running, talking, bicycling, playing board games, and making romantic faces at the camera, as well as a couple of people involved in a masquerade, all of which creates an inviting scene that puts the viewer at ease.
And it is the mixture of sensuality and innocence about the song and video that I personally find to be most moving. I tend to think that I inhabit just that space, someone of awkward shyness and fairly strong gentleness and kindness but also someone who clearly possesses a great deal of romantic longing and a nature of a certain amount of sensuality. For better or worse, I tend to find this same mixture extremely attractive in other people. Innocence and playfulness without sensuality tends to inspire gentleness and protectiveness on my part, knowing painfully as I do the sort of immense damage that can result when innocence is treated with abuse. On the other hand, sensuality without a certain innocence is something I tend to treat with a great deal of alarm and suspicion. It is only when the two are combined that I tend to find my own complicated feelings brought to bear where there is attraction combined with something that resembles trust and openness to explore a shared journey together. Such an affliction cannot be mine alone.
 See, for example: