Sometimes I almost prefer writing about songs where the relationship is failing than those first-blush-of-love ones. For one thing, you’re way less likely to have an assault on your hands when you’re falling out of love. But I think you can really see someone’s relationship skills in how they break down or break up. Perhaps that’s why I like to balance my lovey mixtapes with a few breakup ballads. This one from an early Faith Hill is a favorite of mine.
I’m not sure you could start out more heartbreaking than the image of fighting without saying a word. It’s the opposite of that country classic “When You Say Nothing At All:” instead of love in a touch, we’ve got silent, hostile distance. Faith is reaching for something deeper, but her lover remains just beyond her reach, unaffected.
This song isn’t a bad template at all for expressing that the spark has gone out of your relationship. It’s possible that things aren’t even as bad as Faith fears. In all relationships, one person pursues and the other distances, and a balance must be achieved. Clearly, there’s too much distance here for Faith to feel secure and loved, but letting her partner know that may be enough to salvage things.
What permeates this song more than anything else is a lack of knowledge arising from a lack of communication. Faith doesn’t know what to do, doesn’t know if her partner even cares about the state of things. She’s out of ideas, but, fortunately, she is not yet alone. Naming the pain the distance brings her may snap her partner out of his fog and bring back the talking, touching, and loving that Faith needs.
And if not, if he’s perfectly content with the situation as it stands and refuses to do more, we can already see Faith accepting that and preparing to move on. In the second verse, she asks how far the distance is, and how her lover can cope, and then acknowledges that she isn’t sure she can. She’s not entirely giving up, but she isn’t willing to stay in a situation that hurts her this much.
One of the best things about this song is that it has no protests that she’ll die for this love, or attempts at emotional blackmail. In far too many songs, the protagonist gives all the power in their emotional life over to their lover. There’s none of that here, just a matter-of-fact statement about Faith’s feelings and needs, which her lover can respond to as he will. It hurts and it matters that Faith feels ignored, but this still isn’t her entire life.
Overall, we have here a song that sounds like words real people might say to one another. There’s a time and a place for whatever terrible relationship habits Taylor Swift is cultivating, but when it’s time to actually interact with another person, I’m glad we’ve got Faith Hill to show us the way.