The ‘Say Anything’ Boombox: Which Song Would Make You Take Someone Back?

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On Monday (April 14), Say Anything turns 25. Both a classic in the rom-com and teen movie categories, Cameron Crowe’s directorial debut also spawned one of the most memorable musical moments in modern film history. The movie’s protagonist, Lloyd Dobler (played by John Cusack), wins back Diane Court (Ione Skye) by standing outside her window and blasting Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” in the middle of the night. Hearing lines like, “In your eyes/ I am complete/ In your eyes/ I see the doorway to a thousand churches,” Diane melted and took Lloyd back.

“In Your Eyes” was already a hit upon release in 1986, racking up no shortage of radio/MTV play and appearing on Gabriel’s most seminal album, So. But three years later, musical tastemaker Crowe managed to bring it even more success with the indelible scene. I’m certain Crowe also sold a few boomboxes in the process.

In celebration of Say Anything, the Flavorwire staff answered the following question: Which song released in the last 25 years would make you take someone back if blasted through a boombox outside your window?

“First Day Of My Life” — Bright Eyes

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zwFS69nA-1w]

It’s rare for Conor Oberst to write something so cheesily sweet and to-the-point, but as he showed with 2005’s “First Day Of My Life,” he’s capable of a love anthem here and there. The thing that sets this acoustic tune apart is its redemptive quality: he knows he fucked up, and much like Say Anything‘s Lloyd Dobler, he’s making a big gesture to make it right. A more apt metaphor for the struggles of adult relationships has rarely been found in song: “I’d rather be working for a paycheck/ Than waiting to win the lottery.” Call me a realist more than a romantic, but I’d take him back with just that line. — Jillian Mapes, Music Editor

Fiona Apple — “Get Gone”

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F76BU-tMI3Q]

I love, love, LOVE Say Anything (read more about it on Monday!), but it’s pure fantasy; you have to be a guy like John Cusack to pull off the boombox move, and suffice it to say, I was no John Cusack in high school. (Or, who’re we kidding, today.) Back in my suffering/dating days, I tried many a grand gesture to get back a girl who’d handed me a pen and showed me the door, and not a damn one of them worked. So, in retrospect, I’d use the opportunity not to stage another unsuccessful reunion attempt, but to play Fiona’s ultimate breakup song (“Nothing to figure out; I gotta get him out / It’s time the truth was out / That he don’t give a shit about me”), toss the boombox in my car, and head home to cry and binge-eat. Romance! — Jason Bailey, Film Editor

Suede — “The Wild Ones”

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a0SuX1IvJys]

When it comes to romanticism, I tend toward the “insanely romantic, and possibly also actually insane” end of the scale. As such, if there’s anything that would convince me to give another chance to someone who’d fucked me over, it’d be breaking out this song, a) because it demonstrates impeccable taste and b) because the sound of Brett Anderson insisting, “If you stay/ I’ll chase the rain-blown fears away/ We’ll shine like the morning and sin in the sun/ Oh, if you stay” is the most gloriously, unabashedly romantic thing the world’s heard since Shakespeare finished up with Romeo and Juliet. (And honestly, who wouldn’t want to “sin in the sun” with 1994 vintage Brett?) — Tom Hawking, Senior Editor

Nick Cave — “The Ship Song”

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKlaV-9Vzsk]

As far as songs of reconciliation go, “The Ship Song” has plenty of strikes against it. Dogs are let loose, wings are clipped — there’s a very Nick Cave-esque undertone of either condescension or sadism. Certainly, it makes no rational argument for getting back together. And yet, it takes willpower greater than mine to turn away a 6’2” man with an inhumanly deep voice (or even someone using him as a mouthpiece) when he’s crooning, “Come sail your ships around me/ And burn your bridges down.” Let the history-making commence. — Judy Berman, Editor-in-Chief

The Mountain Goats — “Broom People”

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ue8MSFSF8w8]

Admittedly, I’m not the most romantic person in the world, so the love songs I enjoy tend to be a bit dark. “Broom People” is one of the sweeter ones by the Mountain Goats. Lloyd Dobler isn’t exactly an outcast getting tortured by popular jocks, but he is surrounded by “friends who don’t have a clue” when it comes to his feelings for Diane (even she doesn’t understand). “Broom People” sets up the life that Lloyd wants with her: burrowing down together, away from the outside world, and free from frivolous concerns. I’m not sure how Diane feels about John Darnielle, but I’d find it hard to resist, “Down in your arms/ In your arms/ I am a wild creature.” — Pilot Viruet, TV Editor

Okkervil River — “A Stone”

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=me9MAS6ShMQ]

Is there anything more romantic than unrequited love? In this tune from Okkervil River’s wonderful Black Sheep Boy album, we have Will Sheff singing to someone who loves a stone, “the heaviest weight/ the clumsiest shape” while the narrator is “found too fast/ too fond of flames.” The triangle is sad and lovely, resolved with the narrator imagining the lover locked away in a castle made of stone, who “turned him away/ to remember some knave/ who once gave/ just one rose, one day/ years ago.” The saddest horns in the world kick in, and we know more about love — the fire and freeze — in the most beautiful, desperate words. — Elisabeth Donnelly, Nonfiction Editor