I want to be your oxygen
You breathe me out and you breathe me in
Toni Pearen endured sniggers over this In Your Room couplet from 1992, although she didn’t write the song. These lines do not rhyme, of course, unless your accent is midway between Brian Wilson’s and Bob Dylan’s, but the sentiment also seems nonsensical. Wouldn’t one breathe out carbon dioxide?
Careful thought, however, yields this stunning emotional truth: people do, in fact, inhale oxygen, converting it by the process of respiration to carbon dioxide. But the efficiency of the system is less than perfect, and so not all oxygen is thus utilised; some of it is later exhaled, having served no purpose at all in the process of breathing.
Pearen is therefore admitting her desire to be an all-too-familiar female type to the sensitive male: that potentially life-giving element, capable of great things, but not interested in said function. She prefers merely to go out and in on this windy ride.
Such candour is exceptionally rare in the context of early’90s pop.
I want to be your confidante,
That’s all I need and that’s all I want.
This rhymes, but a careful listener knows it is untrue: the desire to “be your oxygen” has already been stated, and will be stated again, thus making it clear that Pearen, like many young women, “wants” more than one thing.
Pearen’s willingness to admit so much is, I submit, particularly devastating in the context of such breezy (oxygen rich?) music.