By: Gabriela Yareliz
The need for transparency in a relationship– this is what today’s Gwen Stefani song “4 in the Morning” is all about. This song is criminally underrated. The song was co-written and produced by Tony Kanal. Yup, ex-boyfriend Tony Kanal. Tony always pops up. We can count on that. He is brilliant with Stefani; we’ll give credit where credit is due. At this point in Stefani’s life, she is married to Gavin Rossdale, who we briefly introduced in our last post (she based “Underneath it all” on her relationship with him). And while Stefani said she wanted a nice ballad on her second solo album Sweet Escape, and this one definitely fits the bill, one can’t help but wonder what was happening in that relationship, at the time, that inspired this song. She began writing the song while pregnant, and she finished the song with Kanal. (Source) It’s also eerie that years later, shortly after having their third child, they would divorce due to his long affair with the nanny. Trashy, Rossdale. Trashy. Trashy doesn’t even cut it, but back to Stefani, the real hero of this song–
This song is one where the protagonist is clearly carrying a lot of pain. She feels that her relationship is at a fork in the road where she is deciding whether it’s “worth the fight” because “if we’re gonna do it, come on, do it right.” The lyrics make clear that she doesn’t feel safe, and that’s all she wanted– but she doesn’t want to give up. (We hate giving up. Sometimes, we almost kill ourselves in the process of holding onto things that are toxic). The key here is that she feels she is giving her 100%, and he is not giving it his all. She pleads with him, saying that if they are going to make it work, he needs to give her everything. What a terrible feeling of pain and dread knowing you aren’t getting the same vulnerability and sincerity you are putting into something. She makes clear that she isn’t getting all his love, singing, “Save all your love up for me.” There is a tinge of betrayal in this song. She flags a broken promise and the injustice of the exchange or lack thereof.
“It’s not fair how you are; I can’t be complete, can you give me more?” is one of the lines that stands out to me in this song. She sings that she is up at 4 in the morning (the title of the song) thinking and crying about this. The main thing on her mind is she wants something real: “I’m handin’ over everything that I’ve got, ’cause I wanna have a really true love. Don’t ever wanna have to go and give you up.”
Sadly enough, Stefani does end up having to give up Rossdale. He ends up breaking more than one promise, and the desire of the protagonist in this song doesn’t become a reality in Stefani’s real life until much later (and not with Rossdale).
In a world that sees love as compatibility, emotion, attraction, often in the dynamic there is a clear thing missing from the equation, and without it, things fall apart: vulnerability. There are people who are unavailable despite what they may feel is them being available. Sometimes, we can’t put our finger on it, we just feel it. We know that someone isn’t giving us 100%. Relationships are never 50-50 but 100-100. The damage that a lack of transparency inflicts on a relationship is deep, even when the affected party is willing to fight for the relationship. It takes two to make it work. To leave someone empty handed with just pieces of you leaves them hungry for more and filled with an unease that is hard to describe and suffocating to feel.
A partner observing their partner carry on as they feel their relationship is teetering on the edge of death leads to a partner who starts emotionally shutting down to match the unavailable party. This song reminded me a little bit of Nikki Bella’s very public relationship with John Cena. I do think they loved each other, but his inaccessibilty and distance with her ended in resentment and suffering on her part. She ended the relationship publicly before their long awaited (LONG AWAITED) marriage. I think this was such a bold move. She realized that by accepting less than 100% from a partner, she was denying a part of herself (more on this in the post “Honoring Self“). As Stefani sings, you can’t have the real thing (a healthy functional relationship stemming from true love) unless both people are giving all of themselves to the other.
If you aren’t getting 100% from someone, take a page out of these bold women’s books and realize, it will not end well. If you are giving all of you, you deserve someone who is willing and ready to do the same. Avoid the tears at 4 in the morning. They aren’t worth it. The video is stunning, vulnerable and filled with 4 am tears. For the people giving their 100– this one goes out to you: