I find the song In Some Room Above the Street, especially as sung in the inimitable vibrato of the late country singer Gary Stewart, to have an extraordinary emotional power. Part of the reason for the songÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s power is that it ends on an unexpectedly poignant note.
The song begins by telling of a rather commonplace activity: a couple who meet in secret, in a hotel or motel room, to engage in sexual activity. Both of them are secretive because both are married to someone else.
The narrator speaks of himself and his lover as being Ã¢â‚¬Å“like thieves and beggars when we meet.Ã¢â‚¬Â These stigmatized terms are appropriate. Each is stealing the comfort and pleasure that has been sworn to another and stealing from their own spouseÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s. They feel like beggars because their relationship has the Ã¢â‚¬Å“low,Ã¢â‚¬Â embarrassing quality attached to begging.
Despite their guilt and sense of shame, they continue the affair because their feelings together are so very Ã¢â‚¬Å“sweet.Ã¢â‚¬Â
However, the narrator ends by singing, Ã¢â‚¬Å“If he should want your love tonight, donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t turn away, donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t hurt his pride. Close your eyes and think of me in some room above a street.Ã¢â‚¬Â
What is striking in the above passage is the narratorÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s concern and empathy for the man he is cuckolding. This might not be as strange as it seems. Both the narrator and his lover take care to keep their illicit activities secret and probably believe Ã¢â‚¬â€œ or at least hope Ã¢â‚¬â€œ that what his wife and her husband donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t hurt them.
The narrator knows that his lover may be tempted to turn away from her husband out of a feeling, however irrational, that she should be faithful to the man whom she really loves or at least really desires. But the man singing also knows that while the husband may not be hurt by an affair he doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know about, he will inevitably be wounded by a wifeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s rejection. The narrator does not want their affair to cause another man such a psychic injury. Our singer feels for the husband as a human being, since humans of both sexes are hurt by rejection, and specifically as a man since men are usually the ones making advances and therefore the ones disproportionately apt to be rejected.
Does the manÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s lover no longer desire her husband because he has lost the physical characteristics that once attracted her? That is a possibility. Another is that the passage of time and the familiarity of a long marriage have caused her passion for her husband to dull. However, her lover urges her to do something that a person of either sex can do: use an illicit passion to rekindle the fires of a marital one. It neither condones nor excuses adultery but it is an odd irony of life that extra-marital erotic stimulation can be brought home to the marriage bed. In Some Room Above the Street is a song that displays a sense of wisdom and caring even as it tells of a situation that is fundamentally sordid.