It took a long time to figure out this famous Rickie Lee Jones song, “Company,” the penultimate track of her 1979 debut album.
For years I didn’t bother with it, because I was a teen and it was one of those awful syrupy piano ballads. (“What about Billy Joel when you were a teen?” “Shut up. That’s different.”) And then when I got older and finally noticed how pretty it was, the lyric was bothersome.
In this part, it sounds like she’s grieving a dead lover. In that part, it sounds like her lover dumped her.
Well, which is it?
I finally figured out a couple decades ago, when coping with my first real heartbreak, that it doesn’t matter. Emotionally, the effect either loss is exactly the same: Something that was supposed to last forever is suddenly gone, and all you’re left with is the shock, the ache, the Big Empty in the middle of your gut, which also somehow feels like a medicine ball filling up your insides.
Filled up with empty, that’s it.
And this song captures that impossibility, flawlessly.