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The Meaning Behind The Song: The Choking Kind by Mavis Staples

The Meaning Behind The Song: The Choking Kind by Mavis Staples

During times of joy or sorrow, there are certain songs that have the power to move us in ways we can’t fully explain. Mavis Staples’ rendition of “The Choking Kind” is undeniably one of those songs that leaves a lasting impact on anyone who listens to it. As I am listening to this song while working, I can’t help but delve into the meaning behind the lyrics and the emotions it evokes.

The song starts with the hauntingly beautiful lines, “I only meant to love you, Didn’t you know it baby? Didn’t you know it?” These words speak of unrequited love and a sense of betrayal. The lyrics convey a message of someone who gave their all to a relationship, only to be met with dissatisfaction from their partner. The narrator questions why their love wasn’t enough and why their partner couldn’t be content with the love they had to offer.

In the second verse, Staples sings, “I gave you my heart, baby, But you wanted my mind, oh yeah. Your love scares me to death, man, It’s the choking kind.” These lines depict a toxic relationship where one person’s love becomes overwhelming and suffocating. The metaphor of choking symbolizes the feeling of being overwhelmed and restricted in this relationship.

The third verse delves deeper into the destructive nature of this love, as Staples sings, “You can kill a girl, With a bottle of poison or a knife. I know you can. It would hurt her more to take her pride. And ruin her life, oh, it’s a shame.” Here, she highlights the emotional harm caused by an unhealthy relationship. It speaks to how damaging it can be to one’s mental and emotional well-being when their self-worth is diminished.

The chorus repeats the phrase “Baby, baby, choking kind,” emphasizing the suffocating nature of the relationship. The lyrics portray a sense of despair and helplessness in the face of love gone wrong.

In the latter part of the song, Staples urges the listener to find a love that is kind and nurturing, one that does not suffocate or harm. She implores us to “treat it sweet and kind” and avoid the “choking kind.” This part serves as a reminder to prioritize healthy and respectful love in our lives.

“The Choking Kind” was released in 1969 as part of Mavis Staples’ self-titled album. It is worth noting that the song was a cover of Waylon Jennings’ “The Chokin’ Kind,” but Staples’ powerful rendition infused it with her own emotions and experiences.

In conclusion, “The Choking Kind” by Mavis Staples resonates deeply for its portrayal of a toxic relationship and the emotional toll it takes on an individual. The lyrics serve as a reminder to value ourselves and seek healthy, nurturing love. As I sit here, listening to this poignant song, I can’t help but reflect on the importance of maintaining a sense of self-worth and recognizing when love becomes the choking kind.

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