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Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Dos: Day 265
Thursday, Oct 04, 2012

“Maps”
Yeah Yeah Yeahs

2004

“♫ Made
off/ don’t
stray/ my kind’s
your kind/I’ll stay
the same
…♫”

I used to believe that “Maps” was another one of those infamous misunderstood songs of longing. I imagined “The Police’s “Every Breath You Take.” Boy was I wrong; “Maps” is not your ordinary love song. Karen’s O aching “Say, say, say” plea makes “Maps” sound like a lyrical homage to Cat Power’s “Say” from Moon Pix.

Karen O told Rob Sheffield from Rolling Stone in 2006, “I’ve gotten a little alienated from some aspects of the Karen O persona,” she says. “I put myself into Karen O so I could explore all these different parts of me — all that sexuality, all that angst. But doing that, I exorcised some parts of myself.” An example of her alter-ego inspiring Karen’s deepest desires has to be “Maps” as she explained to Sheffield as being, “There’s a lot of loooove in that song; but there’s a lot of fear, too. I exposed myself so much with that song, I kind of shocked myself.”

“Maps” is more like a postmodern day rock anthem of love; Yeah Yeah Yeahs have created our generation’s “In Your Eyes.” I picture that scene from Say Anything when John Cusack holds up the boom box with Peter Gabriel’s most famous love song serenading his girlfriend played by Ione Skye. I imagine “Maps” being the theme from a Say Anything sequel, this time Diane will be outside trying to woo Lloyd with the boom box, playing Yeah Yeah Yeahs for the one she truly loves. What if the roles were actually reversed in my imagined sequel to Say Anything was set in the tumultuous future where Diane’s trying to salvage the sparks of a young love she first experienced with Lloyd?

Karen talked about how “Maps” as a song, came to life, telling PrefixMag, “I think we wrote that a year ago or a little over a year ago. We had just started touring a lot. There was a lot of emotional unrest going on. The dirt was being kicked up and the water was getting really murky. It also had a lot to do with the fact that I just had fallen in love and settled down with someone, but I was constantly going away and coming back. All that caused the bleeding-heart song that kind of music that I kind of wrote out of the blue.”

If writing and recording “Maps” wasn’t emotional enough for Karen, O shed tears during the video shoot as she explained, “They were real tears. My boyfriend at the time was supposed to come to the shoot – he was three hours late and I was just about to leave for tour. I didn’t think he was even going to come and this was the song that was written for him. He eventually showed up and I got myself in a real emotional state.”

I can’t imagine what Karen O goes through, trying to regurgitate the ache she once felt when she first wrote “Maps” and then attempting to recreate the pain, every night, on stage must be excruciating. “Maps” is very emotional song where Karen slices open her heart beating the love that aches in her ever longing heart. “Maps” is a modern day anthem for the true lovers who wear our hearts on our short sleeves. Why keep it all in? Life’s too short. Besides, there’s no shame in expressing your true emotions— be proud of your passion; I urge you to create your own Say Anything moment with “Maps” as your lyrical serenade.

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