When We Were Happy, Rob Giles
One of the most beautiful and emotionally crippling things about language is how some short phrases can have such huge connotations hidden in their phrasing. My favorite example of this idea comes from Sam Beam’s lyrics to his song “The Trapeze Swinger,” when he says “someone told me you’re still pretty” in the second verse. I’m always amazed at how clearly this short phrase so concisely presents such a complicated situation- the verb tense alone carries more emotional weight than most entire songs. Somehow those six words tell an entire story, without any need for detail or explanation. It might just be the best-written sentence I’ve even encountered. The title/refrain of this song by Rob Giles of The Rescues might come close though. With two less words, the phrase “When We Were Happy” rivals the connotative pregnancy of that Iron and Wine quote, immediately explaining the entire song before you even hear it. That phrase, which is also the title of Rob’s new solo album, quite literally says it all. As one could easily extrapolate from the title, the track centers on a painful romantic breakup, delving into the immensely complicated emotions that fill the void when happiness fades away in a relationship. Giles has fantastically expressive vocal style, and the simple guitar and bass parts have a painful throbbing to them that reflects the sentiment of the lyrics. The recurring string theme adds just enough beauty and tragic elegance to the situation, sonically capturing the feelings that Rob must have been struggling with when he wrote this song. Lyrics like these can only come from fresh painful experience, and the clarity in the title of this song alone is the mark of a great writer.
I want you, but I want you to be happy, the way we were happy, when were happy