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Unrequited love again

November 6th, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

The theme of unrequited love continues to provide a goldmine, and we’re not even close to even scratching the surface! It’s a universal thing, of course; most people have had a bout of unrequited love. If it was infatuation, they got over it fairly soon. If it really was love, they bear the scars forever. Or at least until they find another true love. Surveying the search engine terms that bring visitors here, there are many people looking for music to soundtrack their lovelorn existence (there are also lots of hits for the songs about impossible love, which tells you all you need to know about just how fucked up a thing romance is). Anyway, if he or she doesn’t love you back, remember to love yourself.

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Cat Stevens – Here Comes My Baby (1967).mp3
cat_stevensWell, it does sound like everything is well with the still beardless Cat. He”s taking a walk at midnight, which is nice. But soon we are alerted that all is, in fact, not well, for the mile he walks is not only long (as miles go), but also lonely. And he keeps “seeing this picture of you”. Which is were the songtitle comes in. But, oh no, she”s not alone: “It comes as no surprise to me, [she”s] with another guy”. And things don”t look like she”ll dump the chump any time soon: “Walking with a love, with a love that”s all so fine. Never could be mine, no matter how I try.” So is Cat entirely discouraged and looking to move on? Is he fuck! Like anybody in unrequited love, he hangs on to that thread of hope woven from the strands of a particularly thin cobweb: “I”m still waiting for your heart, because I”m sure that some day it”s gonna start.” Let”s make a bet it won”t, Cat. The loser turns Muslim.

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Warren Zevon – A Certain Girl (1980).mp3
zevonZevon is having a conversation about his unrequited love “” and not just unrequited love, but the dreaded frienditis “”coyly refusing to reveal the name (aaah!) of the “certain chick I”ve been sweet on since I met her”, which is “a long, long time” ago. He resolves that “someday I”m going to wake up and say: “˜I”ll do anything just to be your slave””. In the interim he”ll do what most guys in unrequited love do: procrastinate, hoping that the girl will suddenly realise that actually she is in love with him. Which she won”t, not because Warren refers to her as a “chick”, but because, as she will point out, it”ll destroy the fucking friendship.

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Earth, Wind & Fire ““ Wait (1979).mp3
Frienditis is indeed a bastard. Here, our singer is suffering his frienditis with a heroic and surprisingly jaunty optimism, as though he is inebriated with the godfather of self-help books, The Power Of Positve Thinking. “To wait, it takes love that”s for real”, and if his love is authentic, he reasons, reciprocity is inevitable. The certainty “” not just mere hope “” that she will eventually fall for him sustains him. All he needs is patience, that great source of succor for the poor devils suffering from frienditis: “It”s crazy if you think we”re just friends. Loving when infatuation ends. The wait for you, baby it now begins.” He seems to pick up mixed signals “” “You sigh, when I come close to your heart” “” which persuade him that she shall come around (“someday you”ll grow”). Of course, these sighs might be prompted by her discomfort at his clumsy moves, perhaps because she knows how he feels, and how she feels, and that there will be one broken heart and the end of a friendship.

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Sam Cooke – Cupid (live, 1963).mp3
sam_cookeAh, a Cupid who unquestioningly follows orders would be a fine thing. Alas, the best alternative, if one wishes to invoke imaginary entities, is to outline your predicament with a plea for intercession. Sam, heard here in his live performance at the Harlem Square Club, states his case to Cupid with humility and urgency: “Now, I don”t mean to bother you, but I”m in distress. There”s danger of me losin” all of my happiness, for I love a girl who doesn”t know I exist. And this you can fix.” He knows Cupid”s methods “” “draw back your bow and let your arrow go straight to my lover”s heart for me” “” and makes a pretty big pledge should Cupid choose to make “a love storm” for him: “I promise I will love her until eternity”. Ah, go on then Cupid, let”s test the dude”s ambitious promise.

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Pete Yorn – A Girl Like You (2001).mp3
yornIf you can”t get the one you want, aspire for a clone. That”s what Pete Yorn is doing on this rather good bonus track from his musicforthemorningafter album: “Some day I”ll look into her green eyes and know that she”ll come with me ““ a girl like you. Tomorrow I think I”ll tell you something, the thing that I haven”t said ““ to a girl like you.” The poor girl-like-her will, of course, be just a proxy, forever liable to be compared to Unrequited-love Girl, and possibly hear Pete moaning Unrequited-love Girl”s name in the throes of passion. And, unless Pete isn”t just throwing a strop here, he might pass on some perfectly great girls who don”t have green eyes”¦

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Liz Phair – Extraordinary (2003).mp3
phairAn anthem for the outsider girl in love with a guy who she thinks has too high expectations. He might see her as average, but she thinks of herself as extraordinary. And not just ordinarily extraordinary; she”s “your ordinary, average, every day sane psycho supergoddess”. And she”ll go to extraordinary measures to get him (or at least his attention); “I drive naked through the park, and run the stop sign in the dark; stand in the street, yell out my heart”¦To make you love me.” I can”t quite put my finger on it, but there probably is a good reason why the guy isn”t falling for Liz.

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Mama Cass Elliott – I Can Dream, Can”t I? (1969).mp3
cassThe story of Cass” life in the “60s was defined by her unrequited love for Papa Denny Doherty, with whom she started on the road to stardom in the Mugwumps. So when she sang about unrequited love (as she did with Denny on Glad To Be Unhappy) in this beautiful version of the old standard, she did so from her broken heart, the pain of which is palliated by daydreaming. She doesn”t go into the specifics of her reverie, other than “that I”m locked in the bend of your embrace”. She takes a frequent reality check as she justifies why she won”t give up on her dream: “I can see no matter how near you”ll be, you”ll never belong to me. But I can dream, can”t I?”

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Wilco – I’m The Man Who Loves You (2002).mp3
Tweedy goes all poetic on us, blathering on about unsent love letters and dropping metaphors about him apparently being like the sea. Basically your average victim of unrequited love who can”t find the right words to say. And then he nails it when he makes the most basic observation: “But if I could, you know, I would just hold your hand and you”d understand: I”m the man who loves you.” Sometimes that works better than complex literal devices.

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Indigo Girls – Ghost (1992).mp3
The spectre of a person the singer was in love with (unrequited, death; though a line in the first verse suggests that it might have been a failed adolescent relationship) lingers still, and does terrible injury. “And time passed makes it plain, of all my demon spirits I need you the most. I”m in love with your ghost.” She has sexual dreams about the person which just add to the pain: “When I wake, the things I dreamt about you last night make me blush. And you kiss me like a lover, then you sting me like a viper.” The protagonist is trapped by a love that will never find expression: “Unknowing captor, you never know how much you pierce my spirit. But I can”t touch you. Can you hear it? A cry to be free. Oh, I”m forever under lock and key as you pass through me.”

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Merle Haggard – Always Wanting You (1975).mp3
merleApparently a song about Dolly Parton. As country singers do, Merle is telling Dolly, and us, exactly how he feels: “Always wanting you but never having you makes it hard to face tomorrow, “cause I know I”ll be wanting you again. Always loving you but never touching you sometimes hurts me almost more than I can stand.” And there he had thought that he had it all together. The song could go into the post on love that can”t be, and maybe that”s where it belongs, since there seemed to have been “a yearning and a feeling across the room that you felt for me”, suggesting that Merle”s feelings were reciprocated, if not actually acted on. Of course, when a relationship isn”t possible, love remains unrequited even when the sentiments are reciprocal. Either way, Merle regrets knowing her: “I”d been better off if I”d turned away and never looked at you the second time.”

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  1. Rick
    November 6th, 2009 at 03:20 | #1

    Man I sure did want that Merle Haggard tune, but the link goes to some Iron & wine thing i dont want, oh well but i still like the blog.

  2. November 6th, 2009 at 07:22 | #2

    Sorry, Rick. It’s fixed now.

  3. Rick
    November 6th, 2009 at 16:50 | #3

    Thanks Dude, Made my day

  4. whiteray
    November 7th, 2009 at 00:57 | #4

    Oh, “Ghost” . . . Oh.

  5. November 7th, 2009 at 15:05 | #5

    People end up here who are searching for unrequited love. The search terms that land folks on my site are often, not surprisingly, pajamas – but, Marvin Gaye pajamas? Meatloaf pajamas? Drinking in pajamas?

    Anyhow, wonderful post (as usual).

  6. November 9th, 2009 at 17:57 | #6

    For unrequited love songs, check out John Wetton’s Hold Me Now from his Battle Lines album. Wetton claims he wrote it for his mum. But to my knowledge he has never elaborated on whether the song is supposed to be from the perspective of his mum and about her not being loved by his father or if the song is from his perspective and is about his mother not loving him. If it’s the latter it makes the song even more heart-wrenching.

    “Hold me now and let me believe in a kiss that means nothing to you, ’cause it means the world to me”

    If that’s not a slobberknocker of an emotional wallop, I don’t know what is.

  7. November 9th, 2009 at 18:57 | #7

    “A Certain Girl” is an old Yardbirds song… so maybe Zevon’s use of the word “chick” is ironic (especially since he practically spits out the word like he’s cursing).

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