This is an ampersand: &
It's used to join two things together as one unit, such as a romantic couple. When we spoke with Amanda Palmer
, she had just hours earlier gotten engaged to Neil Gaiman, a writer whose books include Coraline
. Yes, Amanda was going to be one side of an ampersand. She told us:
"the seed of 'Ampersand' was just the image of the ampersand as a symbol that happens to people when they cease being Mary, and they're always John & Mary. They turn into this really irritating relationship people who'll only ever say 'we,' even in terms of, 'Yeah, we really like the movie, but we weren't really sure about…' And those people drive me so f--king crazy.
And in my life, there was that, 'I don't ever want to just be Amanda & Neil,' and 'Maybe they should send their book over to Amanda & Neil.' That concept terrifies me, because I'm so staunchly independent. But it also seems deeper than this, because at the time of that song, I was single, I had hit 30, and I was finding myself in a really defensive position, probably of my own making. I started to sort through the cultural noise, what it meant to choose to be single, and to choose my path as not the relentless crunch to find some magic other person to complete me. I had been single for long enough that I sat myself down for a year or so and said, 'If you're looking for a relationship, and don't even know that you are, are you looking to a relationship as what has been mandated as what you have to do to be happy?' And I was really, really thinking deeply about this, because I had looked around a lot, and I was like, Wow, I've been single for 3 years
. I might like to be in a relationship. But actually, I'm really happy. I love my friends, I love my life. I'm not in a relationship, and yet I feel this weird pressure from culture as a whole, from my parents, saying, 'But you won't be truly
happy until you find that special someone.' And I don't know if I buy it. I sat down and thought about it long and hard; do I buy it? Or is it possible to be alone and truly happy?
That song came out of that deliberation. I was also leaving my band, and that was like going through a divorce. It was the same death of painful separation that, no matter how good or bad the relationship is, no matter how good the highs are and how bad the lows are, at a certain point you just get so used to being in the relationship that when you leave it, you're just reeling. Because all of the sudden, the person isn't there. And that's f--king hard to do. And so I was dealing with that aspect of my relationship with Brian, and overall thoughts about relationships and whether it was even a road I wanted to go down. All of that stuff was swirling around and plonking into 'Ampersand.'"