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Being in love again – Part 1

February 11th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Yeah, I know, Valentine”s Day is commercial and naff. All kinds of idiots will play Every Breath You Take or You”re Beautiful or similar inappropriate to complement the overpriced roses. There is nothing wrong, of course, with letting music doing your talking, but nothing declares love as sloppily as a badly chosen song. To be clear, Perfect Day and fucking With Or Without You are about love, but not in a romantic sense. Here is the first part of a few songs which, I think, do a good job of expressing romantic love, or talking about being in requited love. As an antidote to all the happiness, I”ll do a Splitsville edition next week.

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Lowell George – 20 Million Things (1979).mp3
The Little Feat frontman made one solo album before dying far too young. On 20 Million Things, Lowell encounters the procrastinating inertia that can accompany the preoccupations of being in love. So “all the letters never written don”t get sent” and broken rocking chairs don”t get fixed. He observes the nature of procrastination: “And all the things that I let slip, I found out quick, it comes from moment to moment, day to day. Time seems to slip away.” And all that because of love. “But I’ve got twenty million things to do, twenty million things. And all I can do is think about you. With twenty million things to do.”

At this point the alert reader will remind me that I promised songs about romantic love. Lowell may well be singing, like Lou and U2 about drugs or God. Or his favourite football team, for that matter. But unlike the songs I mentioned, 20 Million Things is a bit of a blank canvas. If it”s not about romantic love, it very much should be. More importantly, it is an absolutely wonderful song that is not heard..

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Linda Jones – Your Precious Love (1972).mp3
So your true love is far away, physically or emotionally? Why, write a letter (the song is from 1972, and so predates e-mail and Facebook messages)! This being a soul song, the notion of postal correspondence assumes fervent dimensions, and naturally God is invoked to deliver or preserve love. Linda, who is addressing “especially the ladies”, provides a template for a love letter in the spoken bits, albeit with a heavy bias towards cliché (“For your precious love I”d climb the highest mountain”). But when she gets into the song that was originally performed by Jerry Butler, it becomes immaterial what she is singing: romantic love, we learn, is driven by passion, desire, fear and hope.
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Ben Folds – The Luckiest (live, 2006).mp3
I”ve said it before: this might be the best declaration of love ever written in pop music. Alas, Folds has since divorced the woman he addresses in this song, performed here with the Western Australian Symphony Orchestra. Ben notes his tendencies to hit-and-miss (and, apparently, miss again), but “now I know all the wrong turns, the stumbles and falls, brought me here”. So as he is seeing her lovely face every day, he considers himself to be experiencing the ultimate in fortuitous fates. And having pondered the random quirks of generational timing, Ben picks up a sweet definition of true love: “Next door there”s an old man who lived to his nineties, and one day passed away in his sleep. And his wife; she stayed for a couple of days, and passed away.” Yes, not the most orthodox way of communicating your love, but bear with him: “I”m sorry, I know that”s a strange way to tell you that I know we belong, that I know that I am”¦the luckiest.” I hazard to guess that a woman to whom such a song is sung would probably think of herself as pretty lucky too. At least until the divorce.

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The Association – Never My Love (1967).mp3
They gave us one of the great songs about unrequited love, and here they give us one of the great songs about love requited. And not only is love reciprocated, but she is also fearful that it will end, which he knows (well, thinks he knows) will not be the case; hence the denial of the title. “You say you fear I”ll change my mind and I won”t require you. Never, my love!” In fact, he cheerfully admits that he needs her as much as she needs him. No manipulative power games for our friend: with this song he is proposing marriage. How can she say no?

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Angie Mattson – Thank You (2007).mp3
This singer-songwriter is not nearly well known enough. Here”s a song expressing gratitude to a partner”s unconditional love and support. “Sometimes I don”t land on all fours, but you come pick me up off my concrete floor. Even after what I said to you, you looked past it and you always come through.” Simple sentiments that articulate an essential constituent in real love. Incidentally, Mattson, apart from being a very talented musician, is a bit of an adventurer. At one point, she apparently sold all her possessions and moved on to a boat for a year, sailing in the West Indies. While on the seas she taught herself to play guitar and started writing songs. Back on dry land, she recorded a demo and in 2007 released her full debut album, Given To Sudden Panic And Noisy Retreat, on which this song appears. (Angie Mattson on MySpace)

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Ambrosia – The Biggest Part Of Me (1980).mp3
In the late “90s, Christian a cappella outfit Take Six turned this into a love song to God. It was a smart adaptation of the original lyrics, in which the singer makes grand promises as though he was some sort of love genie: “Make a wish, baby, well and I will make it come true.” Ah well, love is beginning and hyperbole is to be expected. But we can”t doubt his sincerity when he pleads and pledges: “Ain”t no risk now in letting my love rain down on you, so we can wash away the past, so that we may start anew.” We feel his joy when he spells out just how much he is in love: “You’re the life that breathes in me; you”re the biggest part of me.”

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The Crimea ““ Lottery Winners On Acid.mp3
I posted this two years ago, but let”s get giddy again with John Peel-championed Indie-rockers The Crimea (here with the original EP version, not the inferior re-recording with which they scored their 2006 UK hit). The song has a “60s-like exuberance about it, and not just because of the acid reference. Our boy is so deep-fucked in love, he even loses his grasp on basic grammar: “If she get a black eye, I want a black eye. If she get a splinter, I want a splinter too.” And later: “If she get a disease, I want a disease. If she go tripping, I go falling over.” And his Mom might rightly enquire: “If she jumps off a bridge, would you jump as well?” Of course our boy would. “Everything she say, I was thinking anyway.” Isn”t that just the way love is, initially?

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And all this calls to mind an experiment apparently conducted by a New York psychologist called Professor Arthur Arun, who instructed his subjects, total strangers to one another, to reveal intimate information about their lives in face-to-face conversations lasting exactly 30 minutes, and then silently to stare into each other”s eyes for four minutes. Most of the subjects reported feelings of attachment to their experiment partners, and one couple later got married. Subjects who were told to stare at other body parts didn”t get off on that (not both of them anyway).

Dr Arun's research subjects, yesterday

It does sound like a good plan: the sharing of personal details facilitates emotional bonding, and during the staring contest, the pupils dilate, which evidently heightens attraction.

Any Major Love Mix Vol. 1
Any Major Love Mix Vol. 2

More Songs About Love happy, unhappy, ending etc)

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  1. carol
    February 11th, 2010 at 03:49 | #1

    Your “love posts” are always my favourites, Mr. Dude. This…one of your best.

  2. February 11th, 2010 at 18:21 | #2

    Opening with Lowell.
    How simply wonderful….

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