An Open Letter to Brian McKnight

Dear Mr. McKnight,

Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to read this letter. I understand that you have precious few moments to read letters from people such as myself, so I will therefore be brief.

I am writing in regards to your hit song, “Back at One,” for which you made millions and millions of dollars. Now, I would never quibble with your lyric intent—as a contented fan says on the Amazon.com website, “Brian Mchknight’s [sic.] Back At One, in my opinion, is one of the top five albums of the nineties.” But I was hoping that you would clarify the meaning of the chorus for me, as I have yet to completely decipher it.

It appears that the chorus, if not the entire song, follows the standard format of a counting song, in that each line begins with the counted number (one, two, three, four) followed by the step that the narrator intends to follow. The first line, “One, you’re like a dream come true,” I understand to be a simile in which your narrator attributes a kind of metaphysical well-being to his object of affection. And the second line, “Two, just want to be with you,” continues with an expression of the desire that she inspires in the narrator.

By the third line, “Three, Girl it’s plain to see, that you’re the only one for me,” you have clearly established this pattern—the listener now has the expectation that each number will correspond to a reason, if you will, that the narrator’s girl is the only one for him. Now, line four is where I get hung up. In it, you sing. “Four, repeat steps one through three /Make you fall in love with me.” It seems here that you are treating lines one through three as if they were steps that one could follow. But if you remember, step one was, “One, you’re like a dream come true,” which seems to be more a statement of fact than a step, indeed, a step that if followed, would make the girl fall in love with the narrator. Lines two and three only further the confusion. How could one repeat the step “Just want to be with you,” or even “Girl it’s plain to see, that you’re the only one for me?”

I’m sure you can imagine my concern upon hearing this in your song. If I, for example, had a girl that I felt was the only one for me, and wished to emulate your narrator’s methods in an effort to make said girl fall in love with me, then where would I begin? “Repeat steps one through three,” your narrator mockingly tells me, as I vainly attempt to carry out step one, “you’re like a dream come true.” Certainly you would admit that no girl has ever been made to fall in love with a person for simply “wanting to be with [her].” This I can say from sad experience. I can only imagine how many impressionable young fans have rehearsed these steps, believing mistakenly that because it is plain to see that a girl is the only one for them, and because she is, to them, a dream come true, that she will somehow fall in love with them. This is absurd. You, Brian McKnight, have deceived us all.

Thank you for your time. I can only hope that in your future songwriting efforts, you will strive for more internal consistency.

A Concerned Listener,

David Anderson


Blogger Emily Jane Price said...

I am, to say the least, concerned. One, it's like the song makes no sense. Two, I just want it to go away. Three, dude it's plain to see; That these lyrics just are not for me. Four, repeat steps one through three. Make a rhyming melody. . . .



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