Continuing on with the second verse,
You’re just, just, just, you are, (you are,) just a crush
Now we get to the voice bending chorus, where Grace is able to take the rather boring adverb, ‘just’, and turn it into the most devastating arrow ever shot into the heart of love-smitten young man. And having once thrust it into his aching heart, she then twists it around in the wound by singing it twice more, ensuring that every pocket of remaining hope is completely deflated. “You’re just a crush,” she assures him. “Someone to hang around and joke with; someone who’ll buy me dinner and movie tickets, and who looks good enough for me to hang my arm on. But sorry, you’re just nothing more than that.” Ouch!!
I hope you understand
what I’m (telling) [trying to tell] you
In other words, ‘I hope there’s no hard feelings.’ But as a guy myself, I can assure you this poor fellow would want to run away and hide, his manliness having just been brutally assaulted by a single word.
I don’t wanna be confusing
consider me one of the dudes
I’m not sure it could get any worse than this. She’s saying, “Let me clarify: don’t even think of me as marrying material. In fact, it’s better if you pretend that I’m not even a girl, but just one of the guys.” Right. Fat chance’a that happening. Ever.
(I guess It) [Yes, it would] be nice
to hold hands once in a while
But you’re over here planning like wild
And now we find out the ‘why’ behind the forced friendzoning: while she enjoyed the boyfriend/girlfriend times (the hand holding), he got a little too anxious (or a lot too anxious), and scared the bejeezus out of her. ‘Planning like wild’ would probably scare anyone out of a relationship. The last thing people generally want is someone to so totally upend their life. This poor fellow probably deserved to be friendzoned.
Yes you’re talking ’bout a marriage
and a life together
(No)[But] honey I’m not lookin’ for anything
like what you’re searching for, ah oh
You’re just, just, (oh) just, you are, (you are,)
A repeat of the pre-chorus and chorus. Same points apply, but as is common in Grace’s lyrics, the chorus doesn’t end with the final words, instead just falling into the bridge.
(I’m sorry) [No] I don’t want no tears
It’d be worse if I faked you out all of these years
Okay, this dude just gave up his man-card. Tears!? Well, sure, I’d cry too, but I sure wouldn’t let anyone see, especially the very girl I was trying to woo! And if it wasn’t bad enough that he’s been reduced to a crying blob, she has the gall to say, “Hey, I never led you on! I never gave you signals like I wanted some permanent thing! I just wanted you to pay for my dinners, and take me to movies, and look good enough for me to hang my arm on. But I never wanted anything more than that, and you should have known!” Wow, talk about a face slap. You know, I have to take my original opinion back: this isn’t a ‘gentle’ song at all. This is Taylor Swift in full revenge mode. Double ouch!
(I’m sorry I don’t want no tears)
[I know this may be hard to hear]
So let me just say it (now), perfectly clear
And now we come to those lyrics I spoke about that were changed, and not for the better. Her first time singing JAC she sang, “I know this may be hard to hear, So let me just say it perfectly clear”. This was poetic, and had a typical Grace literalization of the common English idiom, ‘hard to hear’. The idiom isn’t about deafness, of course, but of not wanting to accept what is being said as truth. Yet Grace takes the idiom and flips it on its head, as if the listener really is deaf: “So let me just say it perfectly clear”. Wow. Can anything be more brutal than that? “Hey dummy, you’re obviously not listening, so let me say it again.” Triple ouch!
Unfortunately, that was the only time Grace sang it that way. Afterwards, it became the repetitious and far less meaningful, “I’m sorry I don’t want no tears, So let me just say it perfectly clear”. So if the original lyric was so good, why was it changed in the ‘official’ release? The only reason I can think of is that there was some other song out there, released in years past, that already used the original phrasing. In order to avoid copyright issues, her label (or producer, or lawyer, or whoever) requested a lyric change, and that was the best they could do without a multi-line rewrite. Not that Grace wasn’t capable of that, but she was probably bored with the song by that point and just wanted to move on to the next. Or maybe she refused to change her perfect lyrics herself, so just accepted what was forced on her by the legal team. Of course, that’s all just speculation. By the way, fear of copyright violation would also explain why the BeanRunner performance is nowhere to be found on any ‘official’ GV media. And it’s really too bad, because that performance of JAC is without equal.
You’re just, just, just, you are, [you are just a crush]
(Just, just, oh just, you are, you are, just a crush)
The final chorus now, and another difference between the BeanRunner and official versions. Grace summed up her BeanRunner performance by simply building the tempo of the chorus from slow to fast, with a building volume leading to a crescendo, then the final ‘Just a crush’ merely spoken, becoming a period added to a sentence. But her official release used a repeat of the chorus to accomplish the same thing. I leave it to the listener to determine which they like better.
As a final note, some have opined that JAC was really about Grace deciding whether or not she wanted a career in (like a marriage to) music. As always with her work, there’s enough ambiguity in word usage that that interpretation can in fact be a valid one. She’s avoided pronouns like ‘he’ and ‘she’, so it would be easy to substitute in ‘career’ as the receiver of her friendzoning request. But I leave it to someone else to work out the particulars of that interpretation.
This article was first posted on VanderVault’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Yfl9ID8F0g&lc=UgxMweM4_ICcFYQDH4N4AaABAg