“You Are What You Love” by Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins was the second, and final, single released off of Jenny’s 2006 album, Rabbit Fur Coat. It was released in the US in January of 2006, by Team Love.
“You Are What You Love” by Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins
from the album, Rabbit Fur Coat (2006)
Song of the Day
“‘Cause we live in a house of mirrors,
we see our fears and everything:
our songs, faces, and secondhand clothes.
But, more and more we’re suffering,
not a thousand beers,
will keep us from feeling so all alone.”
Sometimes songs come along at a pivotal time in your life when everything is changing, when big moments are occurring, and when your heart is aching and in desperate need of some musical healing. Or, at least a sign pointing where you should go next. In 2006, I found myself at a crossroads. A good friend gifted me Jenny Lewis’ new (at the time) album, with the Watson Twins – Rabbit Fur Coat – for my 37th birthday. She didn’t know how much inner turmoil I was in. No one really did.
It was one of those life-moments when you are in gut-wrenching pain, but no one notices.
Rabbit Fur Coat was perfect. It was the elixir I so desperately needed but hadn’t been able to find. I was in a city that wasn’t my home. I was in a relationship that was falling apart. I was homesick and heartsick. I wanted to go home, but I had no home to go back to. Most days, I felt alone and lost, even though I wasn’t alone at all.
There is nothing quite as lonely as lonely when you aren’t alone is.
I’d gotten myself into this lonely, but not alone state because I’d looked to love as a remedy. I sought out love to soothe all my pain. I wanted love to save me when I needed to save myself. And in all that wanting, and in all that seeking, I’d grabbed hold of the wrong kind of love. I latched on to a love I didn’t love, not enough, not in the way you should love. Not in the way I wanted to be loved back.
“You Are What You Love” hit me. It hit me hard. If I didn’t love enough. If I wasn’t really in love at all. Well, then what did that make me? Love’s lie? Love’s fraud? A cheater of hearts? Or was I just another lost and lonely girl wanting to love and be loved, but not knowing how to do either at all?
Is that what love had done to me? Or was it what I’d done to love?
“You Are What You Love” (live, 2006) by Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins
That year, that March in 2006, I thought I’d found love and a fresh start. I thought I’d found the kind of love that resuscitated you, brought you back to life, took all the pain away. But, I was playing a part, a role that wasn’t me. And because of it, because of the part I played in that love, I never felt seen for me. I never felt seen at all. I felt more like a fictional character, a fantasy, an ideal I was constantly failing to be.
I’d looked to love to save me, and looking back I think he looked to love as muse. I was inspiration. I was sex on the floor of a studio apartment, or on the cool bathroom tiles. I was someone to write about, someone to write with. We were a fable of two writers, capturing photobooth memories, trading music mixes and telltale scars, longing to become an epic love story, without the tragedy, without the ennui. A fantasy of a life we both wanted to escape to but never did. We were never the great love we wanted to be.
Sure, there were times it was wonderful. But mostly it all became painful. And so very lonely.
I remember one particular night, walking from the train platform, listening to Rabbit Fur Coat through headphones, freezing cold and on the verge of tears. I was weighed down by a thick winter jacket and with the decisions I knew I had to make. “You Are What You Love” came on and it just got it. It got all that was tangled up inside me on that snowy night. And right then, with Jenny singing in my ears, I knew what I wanted and what I needed. Sadly, they were not the same things.
The months that followed were rough in ways that took me years to face. Loss was the overarching theme in those days, but I still had Rabbit Fur Coat. The album stood strong beside me, even in a cold hospital waiting room, and during those panic dreams that woke me in the middle of the night shaking and sobbing. I am forever grateful to Jenny and the Twins for getting me through the worst of it, and for this song – “You Are What You Love” – for teaching me hard, but necessary, lessons
“You Are What You Love” (live, 2019) by Jenny Lewis
“But you are what you love,
and not what loves you back,
that’s why I’m here on your doorstep,
pleading for you to take me back.”
The song stuck around for the good times later, too. Even when we tried to reconcile. Those all too brief golden days when it seemed like “it’s gonna really work this time”. It was there when it didn’t, too. And though the days were darker afterward, the ebb and flow persisted because nothing stays dark forever. The sun always comes up. Morning always comes back again.
Looking back now, to those times, I have a few regrets. I’m sure we both do. But mostly I’m just glad to be here now, and not back there, feeling like that night in the snow.
And whenever I press play and hear “You Are What You Love” I remember it all, and I hold on to where I’ve been, and where I am now, and I hold on to how much I love just being here now.