Thursday, November 1, 2007
Love Is So Simple, To Quote a Phrase
There are millions of songs about love about there, but only a small fraction of them are worth listening to. Even the best artists can fail when it comes to explaining love. For every “4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy),” there’s a “Dancing in the Dark.” For every “Can’t Stand Losing You,” there’s a “Every Breath You Take.” For every “Eight Days a Week,” there’s a, well, maybe The Beatles didn’t quite fail at mastering the love song.
To write a great song about love, it’s crucial to have sentimental lyrics that don’t come across as melodramatic or, worse yet, schmaltzy. This is tough to do because, as mentioned before, there’s countless songs about the same subject. Can you imagine trying to write even 20,000 songs about, let’s say, only boxing or tanning? Even with a low number like that, it’s tough— let alone a number with at least six 0’s at the end of it.
Is it possible to write a song about being in love without acting be in love? I have no idea, but I’d have to guess that it’s a lot tougher. Trying to write a happy song when you’re depressed is like trying to write one about the sun when it’s been gray outside for a month. You can’t go on pure emotions, and you’re left relying to on memory.
There’s also different kinds of love. For instance, saying, “Well, she looked at me and I, I could see/That before too long I’d fall in love with her/She wouldn’t dance with another/When I saw her standin’ there” is miles away from
Down by the Riverside Motel,
It's ten below and falling
By a 99 cent store, she closed her eyes
And started swaying
But it's so hard to dance that way
When it's cold and there's no music
Well, your old hometown is so far away
But inside your head,
There's a record that’s playing a song called:
Hold on, hold on
You really got to hold on
Take my hand, I'm standing right here
And just hold on.
One is juvenile, one is grown-up and complicated—but both are love.
There’s a reason that when you Google “love,” there’s over 1 billion hits; it’s different for every person. When Neil Young sings that “Only love can break your heart,” Ian Curtis thinks that “love will tear us apart,” while Randy Newman swoops in to say that “you’re just a prisoner of the one you love.”
Myself, I’ve only been in love twice in my life (including now—there’s always a selfish for writing posts, isn’t there?), and the kind of love and the songs that I associate it with change. But one artist hasn’t, and I believe he can write about the different forms of love in ways that most only can dream about, or only feel but not able to properly explain.
My love she speaks like silence,
Without ideals or violence,
She doesn't have to say she's faithful,
Yet she's true, like ice, like fire.
Oh, it's shameful and it's sad,
I lost the only pal I had,
I just could not be what she wanted me to be.
I will turn my head up high
To that dark and rolling sky,
For tonight no light will shine on me.
If today was not an endless highway,
If tonight was not a crooked trail,
If tomorrow wasn't such a long time,
Then lonesome would mean nothing to you at all.
Yes, and only if my own true love was waitin',
Yes, and if I could hear her heart a-softly poundin',
Only if she was lyin' by me,
Then I'd lie in my bed once again.
Simple (but pure) love:
Close your eyes, close the door,
You don't have to worry any more.
I'll be your baby tonight.
Sometimes the silence can be like the thunder
Sometimes I wanna take to the road and plunder
Could you ever be true?
I think of you
And I wonder
I'm sick of love, I wish I'd never met you
I'm sick of love, I'm trying to forget you
Just don't know what to do
I'd give anything, to be with you
One more time at midnight, near the wall
Take off your heavy make-up and your shawl.
Won't you descend from the throne, from where you sit?
Let me feel your love one more time before I abandon it.
Those are all by Bob Dylan, a man not typically thought of in the same category as Elvis or Sinatra (although neither one of them wrote their material), but for one man to have mastered so many different kinds of love (and there’s plenty of other categories that I didn’t list), that’s impressive. And sort of sad too, when you think about it.
As for me, I would do anything for love, but I won’t…quote Meat Loaf.