Wanderlust-Warning Sign

Tell me what you want, what you really, really want …

"Wanderlust," Bjork
"Wanderlust," Delays
"Wanderlust," R.E.M.
"Wannabe," Spice Girls
"War," Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band
"War Pigs," Cake
"Warakurna," Midnight Oil
"The Warbler," The Choir
"Warning," Green Day
"Warning Sign," Talking Heads

Yes, the quote above is from the Spice Girls. But for a moment try to forget that's where that line is from and try not to think about that silly song. Is there a more important or more intimate question than this?

It's not even a question, actually, but a command: "Tell me." Connect. Tell me. Tell me what you want, what you really, really want.

In the context of the silly song, "really" seemed like one of those all-purpose empty intensifiers that tend to pepper our speech. "I really want," in that sense, meaning roughly the same thing as "I very much want" or "I bleeping want" — conveying intensity and urgency, but nothing more. But the word offers more than that. "Really" can also mean truly, genuinely, sincerely. Strip away pretension, propriety, insecurity, fear and the bills you have to pay. Strip away concern for what others might say or think or expect. Strip away every mask, veil, closet, beard, disguise or cultivated persona. Disregard all of that and tell me what you want, what you really, really want. Describe for me your pearl of great price, your treasure hidden in a field.

Back in 1996, the Spice Girls' "Wannabe" was unavoidable. It seemed like there was nowhere one could go without hearing those lyrics. In our daily lives, though, the occasion to say such a thing — the opportunity to invite such a vulnerable confession, to really, really connect — is a rare and precious thing, a kind of miracle. If anything is sacred, it is a moment such as this: "Tell me what you want, what you really, really want." "I'll tell you what I want, what I really, really want, I want …"

For all that, though, "Wannabe" is still a screechingly awful, if catchy, bit of disposable pop. The difficulty or seeming impossibility, of ever telling what we want, what we really, really want, or even of fully knowing what that is ourselves, is reflected in those three songs above  that share the title "Wanderlust." Each of those songs, one way or another, aspires to get at the unsettling refusal to settle for anything less. Some people sleep, some people yearn.

  • http://histrogeek.livejournal.com histrogeek

    Londo’s journey, and to a lesser extent G’Kar’s journey, are so much more interesting because they are unexpected. No one thinks from the beginning that Sinclair, Sheridan, or even Delenn are going to be anything but heros. The details and stakes are unknown to the audience, but you know their heros.
    Londo’s story is so amazing because he is so tragic. He was always a patriot, but accepted, in the first season, the Centauri’s decline even if he wasn’t pleased about it. The Centauri themselves were just pitiful at first, punching bags of the Narns (we know the back story but it seems very unimportant at first). An offhand remark to Mordon and suddenly he’s sliding down a path that leads his people to near annihilation (TWICE! at least) and himself to slavery. All without any obvious deus ex machina. He doesn’t become a scenery chewing whack job, just a man whose nostalgia was revealed to exactly the wrong people.
    Meanwhile G’Kar goes from being a vicious bully to an exiled revolutionary to a reluctant, even resistant, messiah. That last part never quite to work as well as the first change though.
    On the original topic of the Spice Girls, my initial thought of that nauseous song is The Vicar of Dibley Christmas Special. “I never knew there were so many parallels between Our Lord and the Spice Girls.”

  • Justin

    “Warbrain” – Alkaline Trio (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98cmO6NfBFE)
    I swear I have more artists than Alkaline Trio on my iPod.

  • http://www.linkmeister.com/blog/ Linkmeister

    Wanderlust, Mark Knopfler
    Wanna Sing A Show Tune, Michael Feinstein
    Warehouse, Dave Matthews Band
    Warning Sign, Coldplay

  • SPQRobert

    Wanderlust King by Gogol Bordello period.

  • You Can’t Tip a Buick

    People shouldn’t hate on the Spice Girls. I hold that the best music is disposable music. If it lasts for more than two months, it’s not worth listening to.

  • Roadstergal

    I’ll thow out there, BTW, that ‘wander’ is a false cognate; the meaning in German was more ‘to hike’ than ‘to wander.’
    Wandering seems lost or destination-less; I feel the term is more about the desire to go out and see for yourself something you’ve only heard about; to seek and to find rather than to meander.

  • http://ksej.livejournal.com Nick Kiddle

    I would love to play this game, but my music is all on Windows Media. I’m not sure I dare put it in alphabetical order, in case I can’t get it back to how it was (some of my cds would sound very stupid played out of order). Is there an easy way round this, or do I need to spring for an mp3 player?

  • http://ksej.livejournal.com Nick Kiddle

    //People shouldn’t hate on the Spice Girls. I hold that the best music is disposable music. If it lasts for more than two months, it’s not worth listening to.//
    But doesn’t that mean the Spice Girls aren’t worth listening to? I’m confused.

  • interleaper

    NK: maybe you could download whatever the current free version of WinAmp is and use that just to alphabetize by title (since it probably uses its own separate configuration and media library files)?

  • Jessie

    Why do I suspect that the only reason people say that song is bad is because preteen girls were the main demographic in the Spice Girls’ fan base?
    I’ve always liked that song because it affirms the primary importance of friendship over transient crushes–something a lot of people (girls and women especially) need to hear.

  • http://liberalhyperbole.blogspot.com/ Randy Owens

    @Roadstergal: You have the meaning of “false cognate” flipped around, then. A proper false cognate is when the two words’ meanings and sounds are similar, but they have no actual common root word. In the “W/wander” case, the sounds are similar, and they do have a common root word, of course, but your point is that the meanings are somewhat different. There’s probably a term for that, too, but I don’t know it offhand. “Homonym” comes close, I suppose, but I’ve only seen it applied to words within the same language.
    @Nick Kiddle: Click on the top header of the “Title” column. To get back to other sortings, click on the other column headers, like “Album” or “Contributing Artist”.

  • interleaper

    There’s also http://mp3tag.de/en/index.html which is a freeware music tagging gadget that will also let you sort by any tag field.

  • picklefactory

    “Wanderlust” – Bjork
    “Wanted” – The Cranberries
    “Wanted” – White Town
    “Wanted Dead or Alive” – Bon Jovi
    “Wanted Man” – Johnny Cash
    “War Again” – Boingo
    “War at 33 1/3″ – Public Enemy
    “War Child” – The Cranberries
    “War Dance” – XTC
    “War Hero” – Antibalas
    “War Ina Babylon” – Max Romeo
    “War is a Crime” – Antibalas
    “Warning” – The Bug
    “Warning Shots” – Thievery Corporation
    “War of the Hearts” – Sade
    “War of the Wolves” – Marumari
    “War on War” – Wilco
    “War Party” – Prince Paul
    “Warped” – Red Hot Chili Peppers
    “War Pigs” – Black Sabbath

  • borealys

    War on Sound – Moonbabies
    War Pigs – Cake
    Warning – Hey Ocean!
    Slightly out of range, but a song I adore:
    Wandering Eye – The United Steelworkers of Montreal
    (Urban bluegrass … it’s fantastic.)
    A proper false cognate is when the two words’ meanings and sounds are similar, but they have no actual common root word. In the “W/wander” case, the sounds are similar, and they do have a common root word, of course, but your point is that the meanings are somewhat different. There’s probably a term for that, too, but I don’t know it offhand. “Homonym” comes close, I suppose, but I’ve only seen it applied to words within the same language.
    I had to go back to an old textbook to find it, but I think the word you’re looking for is polysemy, although, again, it’s usually applied within languages and not across them. A polysemous word is one which has several non-identical but related meanings, typically derived from the same root word.

  • http://liberalhyperbole.blogspot.com/ Randy Owens

    Question about the German “wandern” vs. English “wander”: What word is used in German Bibles for what the Jews did in the desert for forty years? “Wandern” or something else?
    Inge?

  • http://liberalhyperbole.blogspot.com/ Randy Owens

    Nevermind, I found it myself: “und er ließ sie hin und her in der Wüste ziehen vierzig Jahre”, so the equivalent verb is “ziehen”, no “wandern” at all.

  • TG
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