Don’t you think you’re fallin’?
Have you ever had the song that is undeniably yours? I don’t mean seasonally yours, à la
Single Ladies, or even yours when the lyrics match your plans for the weekend (“Play Hard”
feat. Ne-Yo and Akon, looking at you). I mean a song that reaches right into the atrium of your
pumping heart, and carves the lyrics into the chambers.
So...mine is Gloria. You know Gloria? GLOOOOORIA. DA NA NA. You’d know it, trust me. It
comes on smooth.fm from time to time (every fucking night) and you catch yourself nodding
along, maybe tapping the wheel of your Kia. It was released in 1982, by Laura Branigan.
You may have also noticed by now that my name is probably one of the furthest from Gloria.
How can I claim to have a close personal tie to a song about a woman called Gloria, sung in the
most melodramatic fashion (sorry, Lorde) known to mankind? Why is Gloria mine? Well, my
friends, good news. Gloria is not just mine: she is ours.
I think they’ve got the alias, that you’ve been living under
What is this song even about? Yeah, on the first few listens, it’s a certified banger. That doesn’t
change. But when you start to really listen, it’s about a woman (Gloria) who seems to be running
away from something, but also to someone. She seems to be called, pulled even, to whatever,
or whomever, she is running to, and Gloria seems to feel that everyone, calling her on, is
pestering her. It is sang in the tone of a concerned friend, who is worried about Gloria, maybe
also worried about the voices in her head, calling Gloooooriaaaaaa.
You’re always on the run now
I feel like Gloria everyday: I feel that I am running from so much, so much weight and
expectation. But, in a way, I am also running toward that, sprinting toward a goal. The voices in
my head, calling me on, all belong to me. They are both the reason I am running, and what I am
running away from. Gloria and I are both women who feel as though we are trying to outrun
ourselves, while hoping that we catch ourselves when we fall.
If everybody wants you, why isn’t anybody calling?
Gloria also explores this concept of the weight of other people in your life. Her friend who is
singing this song reminds her that no one seems to be chasing her down – Gloria, if you’re so
afraid that people are after you, where are they?
It’s such an interesting concept, this idea of being wanted. Can you feel wanted, without people
showing it, or do we need the constant validation from everyone around us? I think so many of
us struggle with feeling as though we matter, as though we have a place, not only in the world around us, but also inside the people we hold close. Was anyone ever really after Gloria? Or did
she just want them to be?
But you really don’t remember, was it something that they said?
At the end of the day, we all get caught up in the web of ideas that people spin around us. It
becomes so easy to lose sight of your core being, when everyone is busy telling you how that
should look, and women bear the brunt of this. Through every screen we own, we are told how
to be and how that anything but that is not good enough, and then we turn to the final screen –
our mirror – and repeat that back to ourselves. Gloria, on the run, haunted by the words that
swirl around her.
I think you’re headed for a breakdown, so be careful not to show it
The hardest part of this song, for me, is that even though Gloria is going through a bunch of
SHIT, at the end of the day, she can’t even be honest about it. Be careful not to show it – that is
SOME BULLSHIT. Isn’t it enough that she is suffering through some kind of hardship, and now
it is too obvious that she is sad about it? Fuck that – Gloria, I wish we got to hear the song from
your point of view. I want to be Gloria singing this song – about how yeah, she loved, she lost,
but most importantly, she still has a song. It’s my song – to run to, to hype me up, to make me
But the friend says, Gloria, you don’t have to answer. I love that best of all – because Gloria can
dance off, into the sunset, the words that she doesn’t have to say, the point she doesn’t have to
prove, shimmering on her lips. I want to be Gloria, the Gloria in this song – the one who doesn’t
need to speak, at the end of the day. The song is named after her, after all. Not anyone else.
Simone Williams is a Melbourne-based writer, currently featuring on UNIJUNKEE, REDD’s The Cut, and Happy Media. She wants to dedicate this piece to the late, great disco queen Laura Branigan. Graphic by Carolyn Huane.