Here’s an extract from Sean’s book.
“The Same Situation” is a continuation of “People’s Parties” on many levels; the fact that the two songs connect like Siamese twins joined at the D chord is practically the least of reasons. If you listen to the song alone on a CD or as a digital file, the beginning contains an abrupt remnant of the “laughing it all away” chorus from “Parties,” like when you answer the phone and hear the person on the other end talking to someone else for a moment before saying hello to you. Even the opening line feels in medias res – “…Again and again, the same situation, for so many years…” – lending the feeling that the song has been going on for some time already. I like to imagine that it’s not only the same narrator as “People’s Parties,” but the same evening, an extension of the same thought process, addressed to the same absent lover. Having fully immersed herself in brutal introspection, the narrator turns her attention to a troubled romantic relationship and continues to delve. A robust chorus of voices, acoustic guitar, and percussion gives way to a single piano and a lone lead vocal, like a single thought emerging out of a scattered mind (though hardly a weak and a lazy one), forming a moment of clarity that invites the insight of the opening line. And though “The Same Situation” makes more sense with its antecedent in place, the effect of the song is devastating no matter how you play it.
That opening line is the sound of a woman catching herself in a pattern; from wishing she had more sense of humor and fumbling deaf, dumb, and blind…she then looks up to find herself in the same situation: “tethered to a ringing telephone in a roomful of mirrors” and to a man whose affection she neither trusts nor fully even believes (“I asked myself when you said you loved me, ‘do you think this can be real?'”), and reduced to the status of “a pretty girl in your bathroom, checking out her sex appeal.” In this regard, she’s no different, really, from the photo beauty she just saw laughing and crying by turns. They’re both lost in their desire to be who they’re supposed to be. And anyway, extroversion and introversion, you know, it’s the same release.