“And in the dusk where fell the firelight gleam Softly it wove itself into our dream… So till the end, when life’s dim shadows fall Love will be found the sweetest song of all… Just a song a twilight when the lights are low And the flick'ring shadows softly come and go Tho’ the heart be weary sad the day and long Still to us at twilight comes Love’s old song comes Love’s old sweet song…”
Let’s start at the beginning. E•MO•TION opens with this track, which is a genius decision on Carly’s part for at least a couple of reasons. First, no other song on the album could serve as a better introduction to what E•MO•TION is all about, which is, of course, emotion (how did you guess?). This is a song whose central lyric is “take me to the feeling” - Carly presents feeling as a location, a place to be visited and inhabited, a destination that can only be reached if the journey is both facilitated and accompanied by the love of your life. This song is Carly taking your hand just at twilight, pulling you along a little side street in a city you’ve never been before, throwing you little grins over her shoulder every now and then, and bringing you to a whole new world, where you’ll stay by her side for the next 44 minutes and 2 seconds (minus bonus/deluxe edition tracks).
The second reason why this song is a genius opener choice is obviously the saxophone. Yes, the sax that launched a million Vines. It’s borderline ubiquitous by now, but try to think back to - or imagine - your first time hearing it within its original context. It’s a beckoning peal, convincing you keep listening, promising that what comes next will be exciting. That saxophone cuts through everything like a klaxon, the beat begins to throb, and then all of a sudden Carly is murmuring conspiratorially into your ear. The pulse picks up, gaining sparkle and energy with brisk fingersnaps and a juddering bass as the song hustles us inescapably towards the chorus.
And what a chorus. It smashes through the wall, the kind of monstrous thing you can truly scream along with, just BABY! TAKE ME TO THE FEELING! even if you can’t hit the high notes. When Carly performs this live, her voice goes raspy on the “run away with me” part at the end of the chorus - it’s less a bouncy invitation and more a full-throated command. Carly is reeling you into her world with the most enticing musical plea possible. It’s like the pop-song equivalent of a flawlessly executed persuasive essay: here’s the thesis, we should run away, here’s the supporting evidence, all the reasons why we should run away, no one will notice, think of what we could experience, imagine how it would strengthen our love, we could see the whole world in this one night.
The music video, filmed by Carly’s real-life boyfriend, is just more proof. We see Carly gallivanting her way through subways and airports and crosswalks with her Joan Jett-esque bob perpetually fluttering in her face. The footage is shaky and skewed at times, as if the cameraman was laughing while filming. Carly runs up a flight of stairs, and here’s the thesis again, a golden thread weaving the whole song together. We should run away. Run away with me.