Dream of That Spanish Citadel
That Fatal Mailing List #68: "Toledo" (1998)
Painted From Memory is an album about small broken people and the wreckage of their failed relationships, set to the bittersweet soar of sophisticated pop music.
“Toledo” takes this dynamic and mines it for a similar contrast. Toledo is the city in Ohio, but it’s also the grand “Spanish citadel” of imperial Spain. Like these two cities, there’s a tension between the hope and reality of the singer’s romantic life, which he’s brought on himself through betrayal.
But there’s also a tension between the melodramatic sweep of a torrid affair and the tawdry details of what’s actually happening. The singer stares at the message light blinking on the phone and he knows without listening what he’s going to hear. There’s no mystery or intrigue behind the results of his actions, regardless of how much he’s allowed himself to be swept up in it. He may have once believed he was a conquering conquistador in Toledo, Spain, gathering women up in his arms.
He’s really a liar and a cheat in Toledo, Ohio, stuck in the unforgiving light of day with a promise he’s broken and a lie he can’t shake.
A version of this originally appeared in Front Row & Backstage, Brad Kyle’s indispensible music newsletter.
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