Free will is a tricky thing. We imagine ourselves as independent agents, but anyone who has ever stood on the bar at his cousin’s wedding and mimed rear-entry copulation with a coffee urn while swinging his jacket above his head—only to realize that Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again” is playing, and now he looks like an asshole—knows the smudged border between decision and compulsion. Why do we want what we want? “I don’t know where I’m going,” David Coverdale sings, “but I sure know where I’ve been.” Here is the lament of a man caught in the trap of subjectivity: convinced that he is free while he is acting, his is forced to admit, in retrospect, that he might only be a cog in a deterministic machine. That’s why David Coverdale has made up his mind. It is not why he’s tired of wasting all his time—that part’s in there pretty much because it rhymes, and also it was in “Foxy Lady”—but the point is that David Coverdale has made a choice, even in the midst of habit and conditioned response. Coverdale will go [there] again on [his] own, living a life of free choice even if—paradoxically—it is the only road [he’s] ever known. Maybe it’s because he has to, but David Coverdale chooses freedom, and you should, too. If we free people living after the 1982 release of Saints and Sinners want to live boldly, deliberately, we must distinguish between correlation and causation. The list of actions that follows will help you decide whether you are doing something because “Here I Go Again” came on, or if it just happens to be playing.
Lighting a cigarette as you ease your Trans Am up to eighty
The open road, a throbbing engine, a man who breathes smoke and holds fire in his mouth: these are clear symbols of freedom, and as the sun rises over fields of spring wheat you can be confident that everything going on right now is your choice. Sure, you might not have thought about how lonely the street of dreams can be if David Coverdale had not mentioned it just now, but A) that only sweetens the memories and B) you can always pick up a teenage hitchhiker later. Fly, free bird.
Walking through the rain away from your uptight girlfriend
Is your shirt unbuttoned? If it is, you have to ask yourself: Why is this argument serious enough that I would end a long-term, committed relationship over it, but not so serious that I would button up my shirt? Can you even remember what you were talking about before “Here I Go Again” came on? If you can’t, you should probably turn around.
Telling everyone at Perkins to go fuck themselves
This one is tricky. If you work in the kitchen and “Here I Go Again” is playing out of the boom box, chances are you’ve just made up your mind and are tired of wasting all your time listening to Donald bitch about prep, even though he’s front of house and never worked a kitchen shift in his life. The fact that Adrian Vandenberg is ripping through a guitar solo at this moment is just gravy. If, on the other hand, you were eating pancakes and you got to thinking about the scope of your life in its entirety, finding it to be overmastered with that bittersweet loneliness born of nobility, you should see how you feel in four minutes and thirty-three seconds.
Leaning out the passenger-side window of the car while David Coverdale drives through a tunnel
You are definitely only doing that because “Here I Go Again” came on, and you need to stop it immediately. David Coverdale is barely competent to operate Whitesnake, much less a 1,500 pound automobile in a low-light environment, and it is only a matter of time before he drifts into the wall. By his own admission, the man only knows one road. If you don’t pull yourself inside, your torso is going to look like a child’s eraser after he has spent the afternoon drawing hands.
Crying during sex
Whether Whitesnake is on or not, that’s probably because you never really knew your father.
Waving an American flag and high-fiving everyone as you make your way to the ring
See, this is exactly the sort of epistemological dilemma we’re dealing with. On the one hand, “Here I Go Again” is by definition the background to what you are doing; you were waiting in the tunnel before it came on, you had already decided what you were going to do, and you even chose your entrance music. On the other hand, “Here I Go Again” is your cue to start walking toward the ring. It didn’t motivate your choice to enter, but at the same time, if it hadn’t started playing, you would still be waiting behind the curtain. Can there be a difference between a motive and a cause? As usual, The Iron Sheik has no idea what the fuck you’re talking about.
Singing “Here I Go Again” by Whitesnake
The vast majority of the population will do this only because “Here I Go Again” came on. If you’re David Coverdale, though, it’s possible that it’s just a coincidence.