Since I was a kid, I have always operated on a much lower base level of emotion than most people I know. And it certainly doesn’t help how you’re perceived when you have a solid case of RBF, and resting sad face on a good day.
A huge chunk of my family is Portuguese. In the last year, I learned of the Portuguese concept of “saudade,” a feeling of longing, melancholy, or nostalgia that is supposedly characteristic of the Portuguese temperament. Upon learning of this, I finally felt understood, and my life began to make sense. Whether it’s due to genetics or simply depression, until recently, notions of happiness and joy felt out of reach, or at the very least, fleeting. But sadness, on the other hand, has always come easy. Melancholy has always fit like a glove.
Anna Beck’s cover of “I Can’t Make You Love Me” taps into this concept of saudade. Those feelings of longing and melancholy wash over you as she sings with such raw emotion. And as they engulf you, Anna’s words have the power to heal the wounds of the past, as if to say, “I too understand.”
To co-opt someone else’s song and to sing it with such power is a special thing. Despite my propensity for sadness, I do not get emotional very often while listening to live music, but I did when Anna sang this song at her show over the weekend. Had someone genuinely asked me how I was doing in that moment, I would’ve broken down. The dam would’ve burst, and I would’ve been an emotional wreck the rest of the night.
Sky Olson had the only appropriate reaction when she finished. He simply said, “Holy fuck.” Holy fuck is right.