For Unlawful Carnal Composition: Cauterize- “Still Breathing”


Welcome back to another installment of “For Unlawful Carnal Composition,” my music series here at The No Seatbelt Blog that analyzes songs about the dirty deed. This week, I’m picking apart one of my favorite songs about sex, and that is “Still Breathing” from the now-defunct Canadian rock outfit Cauterize.

Tear me open at the seams.
Take everything you need.
Take my heart if you like the beat,
Take my lungs if it’s hard to breathe, to breathe.

The sixth track from the band’s record So Far From Real, which is a desert island album for me – I love it, end to end – is a beautiful song about a guy who is just trying to figure out if the new sexual experience he’s having is signifying love.

“I’m not cold,” she said,
but she’s shaking as she’s lying next to me naked.
Pulled the hair back from her face to let that smile heat this place.
And this feels so far from real.
I’m lost and I love it.

There may be no greater feeling in the world than new love, and when it’s felt both sexually and emotionally, that sensation renders your brain effectively useless and sends your heart into a gleeful panic. When lead singer Jesse Smith sings in his high-pitched rasp, “and this feels so far from real, I’m lost and I love it,” you can tell that he means it.

I can’t take it, if you’re waiting.
I am ready to tell the world about a girl
who showed me love again for the first time.
And it’s everything I dreamed of.

Tell me what you thought about when you were breathing oh so loud,
screaming oh so loud.
Tell me if this is real.
I need to know before I get too close.

The desire to scream about your newfound love from the mountaintops becomes insatiable, especially if you’ve been burned before, which most people have. “Tell me what you thought about when you were breathing oh so loud, screaming oh so loud” is a rather funny line, as in the midst of the act, any complete, rational thoughts should be few and far between. Perhaps Smith’s inquiry was of the rhetorical variety, and maybe he didn’t actually expect an answer to that. The next line, however, grounds all of this post haste.

When Smith sings “tell me if this is real, I need to know before I get too close,” that sentiment may be all too familiar for many. Sex can be dangerous in this way, because it doesn’t necessarily always have to do with love, and any confusion thereof can lead to mangled emotions.

So here we lie in this beautiful mess of tangled sheets and beads of sweat.
With my heart in your hand and my neck in the other,
should I be scared or should I come closer?
But it’s still beating and I’m still breathing.
You haven’t hurt me yet.

As you can tell, our main character here has suffered at least one severely broken heart, and while he has no hesitation when it comes to going twenty-toes with his new flame, he’s petrified of getting into anything deeper (so to speak).

Morning always comes too quick when you’re around, when you’re around.
You leave me lying here so they don’t find us out, they’ll find us out.
Tear me open at the seams, take everything you need.
Take my heart if you like the beat,
take my lungs if it’s hard to breathe.

However, it seems that he has no reservations about giving himself to her fully, internal organs and all. Of course, when he offers up his heart and lungs to her, he does so figuratively, but he sounds like he’s being led to the slaughter, succumbing to the same fate that he remains so unsure about throughout much of the song.

Musically, the song is thoroughly catchy, with heavy but melodic guitars during the choruses, and a wistful plucking of the strings during the verses. Uptempo drumming and a very noticeable bass line provide a great backbone for this infectious tune about sex and love. Smith’s voice is raspy, his passionately strained vocals are well-suited for this type of music.

If you’re a fan of insanely catchy punk rock, check out Cauterize’s 2003 album So Far From Real. Although loaded end-to-end with songs about bitterness and heartbreak, it’s all done so well.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of “For Unlawful Carnal Composition,” and maybe even found a new band to listen to. Check back next week for a new installment in this series, and catch up on the rest of what’s been cached at!


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