Little Person

I’ve only seen Synecdoche, New York once. I’ve listed to song from its soundtrack at least a thousand times. At least.

Little Person, written by Jon Brion and sung by Deanne Storey, has burnt itself into my brain. It makes this robot of a man feel. It makes me feel too much sometimes.

The movie isn’t as clear in my mind. I only saw it once, several years ago, and while I liked it, I know a lot of it went over my head. It’s Charlie Kaufman so of course it’s a little wild, and I’m me so of course I’m a little slow when it comes to postmodernism. I’ll watch it again one day though. Anything for Philip.

But the song. The song! The song haunts me. I listen at least once a week, often at least once a day. It transports me. It puts me to sleep and calms me. It’s been there for me when I’m happy and want to feel sad. It’s there for me when I’m sad and want to feel something.

Have a listen then read on, please.

The song

It’s a simple song. Slow piano and smoky vocals. No big words. It rhymes for the most part.

It speaks to the common person’s struggle. The first four lines speak to everyone I’d have thought, at one time or another:

I’m just a little person

One person in a sea

Of many little people

Who are not aware of me

The human condition in four lines. Amazing.

I know you

What does everyone want, ultimately? I was never really sure until I heard this song.

And will we ever get it? Maybe. If we’re lucky.

And somewhere, maybe someday

Maybe somewhere far away

I’ll find a second little person

Who will look at me and say —

I know you

You’re the one I’ve waited for

Let’s have some fun

That brief pause on I know you kills me.

I don’t think life gets any better than finding someone who see into your soul. That’s what we’re all striving for isn’t it? Or if you’re not striving for it, it’s what’s missing.


There’s a wrinkle though. I’ve skipped over an important part. The second half of the first verse. After talking about the sea of people, the narrator laments:

I do my little job

And live my little life

Eat my little meals

Miss my little kid and wife

Working a little job? Feel ya. Eating little meals? You have to eat every day and it honestly gets tiring, so yeah. Missing your little kid and wife? Yeah, of course, but why do you miss them?

This line, combined with the wishes to meet someone and have some fun – so are they pining for an affair? Why is their wife not his second little person? Explain yourself!

As heartbreaking as it may be, a regular person hoping to find love outside their marriage is a likely reading here. Not everyone ends up with a soul mate. Or your soul changes over time. Or finding someone new who just *gets* you is something you come to wish for eventually – such is the horrible nature of life.

But it does somewhat complicate my love for the song if our singer is hoping to cheat on their wife. Life is messy and it’s complex, sure, but I can’t condone that. Regardless, I do have sympathy for someone who wants something better in life.

I don’t think the song is advocating adultery. I think it’s illuminating why so many of us are depressed. That human connection is missing.

And they do miss their kid and wife! It would be worse if they didn’t. Maybe they’ve got the best life and wife and kid in the world. Maybe that’s still not enough.

And it’s not necessarily about cheating. Maybe they just want a new best friend. It’s plausible Maybe the wife and kids are dead and that’s why they miss them? Hardly better! Or they’re already divorced. Maybe the wife cheated on them? That just makes the song a million times more depressing.

My most generous reading is that our singer is often away for work and that’s what causes them to miss their family so much. Which I, mean, makes sense.

I’m sure the song has more meaning in the movie, which, as I’ve said, is not so firmly in my mind. Perhaps I’ve missed some important details and I look a right fool. It’s possible.

I guess you can be happy, have a kid and wife who you miss, and you can still want someone who truly and completely knows you to come along. The song is a lamentation. And the details don’t matter so much as the feelings.

Perhaps the reason I can enjoy this song is because I have found my second little person. So all this conjecture is amusing rather than too close to home. And maybe by listening to the song, I can tap into a memory of my life before Senaai, or perhaps what life would be like without her. Am I that sick? Maybe!  

The repeated, yearning, search refrain of somewhere, maybe someday, maybe somewhere far away suggests that it’s all just fanciful. Finding your second little person? Impossible. But it’s nice to dream.  

Don’t think, just feel

I’m probably just reading too much into a pretty good song with nice chords, a sweet voice and evocative lyrics. And I don’t think I’ve done it justice by thinking so much about it. It’s the feeling and the mood that the song creates that makes it so magical. Thinking diminishes that.

So don’t think. Just let it wash over you. Let it furrow into your soul. Listen to it until it speaks to you and makes you feel.

Makes you feel about somewhere. Maybe someday. Maybe somewhere far away…


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