Sy Smith’s Distance is one of these songs. On the first few listens, you think the song is about sexual desire, longing, separation. But the more you listen to the song, you realize it’s really about guilt. You hear it in the way Sy sings the verse and how she calls him “darling” and “sweetness.”
But you hear it most clearly in the couplet that ends each verse:
Cause I have needs
And no discipline
The way she sings it is the key to the entire song. She rushes it.
Right there we know what’s really going on. It’s no accident, then, that the song is essentially a vamp from here on out. Sy is desperately, futily, trying to blame “distance.”
From construction to execution, Distance captures an aspect of guilt – misdirection, deflection – in a way I don’t think I’ve heard before. And it is compelling.