Make Sure – I Thought I Could Do Better Than You

by | Sep 13, 2019 | Song of the Day

Now when the young Fisherman heard the words of his soul, he remembered that the little Mermaid had no feet and could not dance. And a great desire came over him, and he said to himself, ‘It is but a day’s journey, and I can return to my love,’ and he laughed, and stood up in the shallow water, and strode towards the shore. — Oscar Wilde, The Fisherman and His Soul

In Oscar Wilde’s fairy tale, the Fisherman falls in love with a Mermaid and gives up his soul to join her in the watery depths. His soul attempts to lure the Fisherman back onto land by enticing him with intelligence, with power, with wealth. The Fisherman is finally pulled from the sea by the false promise of partying with a dancing girl who possesses what the Mermaid does not: legs.

The desire for something better inspired us to descend from the trees and to take up the pursuit of being pursued by creatures with large teeth. The desire for something better drives people to leave their countries and journey to ours, even as we rant about what a terrible place this is and vow to move to Canada if our political opposite wins the election. We change jobs, change towns, change quarterbacks, change the lyrics because we think – or perhaps simply hope – that we will find something better.

The problem with change for something better is that sometimes it doesn’t work. The young Fisherman never found his dancing girl, but found himself bound to the shore, unable to touch the Mermaid again until her death.

Make Sure’s ‘I Thought I Could Do Better Than You’ describes a similar condition: the post-change state of a person floating in the netherworld between relationships, that Phantom Zone in which you are an undead ghost surrounded by the host of souls who made the same mistake, sentenced to this dimension for all eternity. Well, that’s what it feels like when you’re in it. I mean, that business about the Phantom Zone is a pretty good description of

Feels like I’m apathetic on the inside,
Muting all the echoes of a good life,
All on my own…

And I thought I could do better than you

‘I Thought I Could Do Better Than You’ opens with a beautifully-played acoustic guitar, then gently adds more sounds, moving through a series of musical moods. This track sounds great. The composition, arrangement, performance, and production are several hands higher than what we expect from the usual indie singer-songwriter. Listen as the opening riff begins in one speaker and echos to an end in the other.

Make Sure is Joshua Aubrey Jackson of Opelika, Alabama. ‘I Thought I Could Do Better Than You’ appears on his new eleven-song album, Walk Home Instead. The release is a true album, not a collection of unrelated tracks. The Bandcamp notes describe Walk Home Instead as ‘anti-emo emo songs’ that speak to ‘a spiritual journey following failed relationships.’ Today’s track is Josh’s second Song of the Day; previously we featured ‘Deal Breakers,’ a testament to breached emotional contracts, recalled with a twenty-year-old’s innocent wisdom.

Walk Home Instead is available on BandcampSpotify, and Apple Music. Be sure to follow Make Sure on Instagram and Facebook. And check out Joshua’s other projects, Summerooms and Fiery Crash.

Charles Norman is a writer and historian. Email: Or follow on Instagram and Facebook.

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