Archive

Archive for the ‘Songs About Love’ Category

Any Major Impossible Love

February 13th, 2018 3 comments

In the past few years we have celebrated being happily in love, and happy in love in black and white; we have dealt with the pain of unrequited love. And for this year’s Valentine’s Day, here’s a mix of love that cannot be: the impossible love situations where two people want to be together but, for some reason or another, can’t.

Usually it involves one or both of these people being married, so this genre of love songs can veer into territory of furtive sex. So Billy Paul’s Me And Mrs Jones is usually classified as a cheating song. But I’m not sure it is one. Billy and Mrs Jones meet in a public place: the juke box is playing their favourite, and after some holding hands it’s time for them to be leaving. The relationship may or may noy be consummated; Billy Paul gives us no evidence of that.

Whereas Marilyn McCoo, in the original version of the future Whitney Houston hit, is definitely engaging in adultery. But the act of sex seems to add to the pain and the longing she has for the cad who is playing two women. That storyline is replicated on several songs here.

The Impossible Love genre is dominated by love thwarted by obligations, but there are songs about other reasons for love that cannot be. Class differences, family relations (the Romeo & Juliet theme, which isn’t explored on this mix), sexuality (Karma’s song here might be about same-sex attraction that cannot be acted on), mental illness (Joseph Arthur’s Honey And The Moon hints at that)…

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-lovelorn cover. PW in comments. Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

1. Denise LaSalle – Married, But Not To Each Other (1975)
What’s stopping them? A hit for country singer Barbra Mandrell, this is the original by the recently late soul singer who co-wrote the song. The title reveals the romantic dilemma: “You’re tied to her and I’m tied to him. We don’t wanna hurt either one of them. So what can you do?” She finds an ambiguous answer: “Hurry up and love him, hurry up and please him. And when it gets right, you’ve got to leave him. You better leave him.”

2. The Soul Children – We’re Gettin’ Too Close (1974)
What’s stopping them? There’s an affair involving two otherwise attached people, but their love is becoming too obvious: “She’s gonna get hip to you, and he’s gonna get hip to me.” Time to call it off.

3. Billy Butler – I Know The Feeling Well (1977)
What’s stopping them? When you love two people and have to choose — and either way, you lose. Billy knows the feeling well.

4. Johnny Darrell – Margie’s At The Lincoln Park Inn (1969)
What’s stopping them? The singer (originally Bobby Bare, but Darrell sings it better) is torn: hot passion with Margie in a hotel, or family life with children and teaching Sunday school without bearing the conscience of a hypocrite.

5. Merle Haggard – Always Wanting You (1975)
What’s stopping them? Haggard wrote this about Dolly Parton, at a time when both were married. “Always loving you, but never touching you, sometimes hurts me almost more than I can stand.”

6. Randy Travis – On The Other Hand (1986)
What’s stopping them? On the one hand, in her arms he feels feel the passion which he thought had died. On the other hand is a golden ring…

7. Howie Day – Collide (2003)
What’s stopping them? Here opposites attract in an inexplicable love which the singer would probably prefer to be unrequited: “I’ve found I’m scared to know I’m always on your mind.”

8. Karma – Pachelbel (1998)
What’s stopping them? There’s hope in hopelessness: “And it’s too late to say goodbye, it’s too early yet to think you can’t be mine.” But, chin up, “there is pleasure to be found in this kind of pain.”

9. Jem – Flying High (2004)
What’s stopping them? Jem knows that she and the object of her desire can’t be together, for reasons unstated, and she “can’t pay the price” for acting on the reciprocal feeling, even if they are “so close to giving in”. The situation is painful by this impossible love also makes her giddy, as love tends to do. Hence she is “flying high”.

10. Joseph Arthur – Honey And The Moon (2002)
What’s stopping them? He loves her, she loves him back, they already seem to be together, but “right now, everything you want is wrong. And right now all your dreams are waking up.” He wants to follow her “to the shores of freedom, where no one lives”. It’s possibly a case where depression stands in the way of love’s final fulfilment.

11. Rilo Kiley – Does He Love You (2004)
What’s stopping them? A love triangle: a woman has an affair with her pregnant friend’s husband. He says he’ll leave her, but the protagonist knows he won’t.

12. The Decemberists – We Both Go Down Together (2005)
What’s stopping them? His parents will never consent to this love, for they are rich and the girl is “a dirty daughter from the labour camps” with tattoos (what?). But he’ll hold her hand…

13. Snow Patrol feat. Martha Wainwright – Set The Fire To The Third Bar (2006)
What’s stopping them? Two people are in love, but it’s long-distance. “I’m miles from where you are, I lay down on the cold ground. I pray that something picks me up, and sets me down in your warm arms.” Unlike many others in the impossible love predicament, our two friends may well activate their love fully when they do get together. Or the long distance will break them apart.

14. Bob Dylan – Ninety Miles An Hour (Down A Dead End Street) (1988)
What’s stopping them? Bob’s married, she’s married, and a drunken one-night stand turned into an affair which will end in disaster. “As a bad motorcycle with the devil in the seat, going ninety miles an hour down a dead end street… I didn’t want to want you, but now I have no choice, it’s too late to listen to that warning voice.” Kids, don’t try that at home.

15. Conway Twitty – Linda On My Mind (1975)
What’s stopping them? Oh, what complication: Linda had a crush on Conway but Conway loved her friend. Now Conway is tied to her friend but is in love with Linda, who is still in love with him. Who is now, as the title reveals, on his mind. As he is lying in bed next to his crying wife…

16. Hank Locklin – Please Help Me, I’m Falling (1960)
What’s stopping them? A desperate plea in the title, because Hank belongs to another whose arms have grown cold. But he promised “to have and to hold” the wife forever, so he can never be free.

17. Billy Joe Royal – Down In The Boondocks (1965)
What’s stopping them? He loves her and she loves him. But, coming from the boondocks, he doesn’t fit in her society.

18. Luther Ingram – (If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don’t Want To Be Right (1972)
What’s stopping them? Our man Luther is having affair and tries to rationalise his bid to have the love that can’t be. It’ll all end in tears, because he is not going to leave his wife, “who needs me just as much”, but he’ll continue his affair (perhaps he’s the cad in the last song on this mix). He asks: “Am I wrong trying to hold on to the best thing I ever had”? Well, is he?

19. Clydene Jackson – Somebody Else’s Love (1975)
What’s stopping them? More falling in love with somebody else’s love. All the playing in pools in the park wouldn’t get them to be together. It was never going to be, so that fling is a thing of the past.

20. The Glass House – Stealing Moments From Another Woman’s Life (1972)
What’s stopping them? The singer has the self-awareness that being with the man of her desire affects another woman, “stealing moments” from her. So now she dumps the guy.

21. Billy Paul – Me And Mrs. Jones (1972)
What’s stopping them? She’s got her own obligations, and so, and so-o-o, does he-e-e-e.

22. Marilyn McCoo – Saving All My Love For You (1978)
What’s stopping them? He says: “Be patient, just wait a little longer”. Which translates to: he’ll never leave his wife.

GET IT!

More Songs About Love
More Mix CD-Rs

Categories: Mix CD-Rs, Songs About Love Tags:

Any Major Unrequited Love

February 18th, 2016 7 comments

Any Major Unrequited Love

Last week we celebrated reciprocated love in all its giddy black & white glory; today we deal with love on a more twisted basis: the unrequited kind.

Most people have had a bout of unrequited love in their lives. 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.

The trouble with unrequited love is that double kick in the face: the crushed hope of ever finding happiness and the gut-wrenching feeling of rejection. And if one doesn’t get the over latter swiftly, the former executes true torture on the poor victim.

Unrequited love comes in many forms: the object of desire might not know that you even exist, or just doesn’t like you, or thinks you’re not in their league (or you might fear you’re not). Or he or she might be in a relationship that you can’t (and probably shouldn’t) break up.

Perhaps the worst is when you are friends with them. Guys might know that one well: “I love you…as a friend”, perhaps with the soul-destroying addendum: “Why can’t all guys be like you?” as they cry on your shoulder, a compliment that provides a particularly nasty kick.

So this collection of songs deals with various forms of unrequited love; some are still hopeful (such as Earth, Wind & Fire’s Wait), others are realistic about emotional desolation wrought by being in love with somebody who doesn’t want you.

Anyway, if he or she doesn’t love you back, remember to love yourself.

As ever, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes covers made from home-wept tears. PW same as always.

1. Joe Jackson – Is She Really Going Out With Him? (A Cappella Version) (1988)
2. The Band – It Makes No Difference (1978)
3. The Holmes Brothers – I Want You To Want Me (2007)
4. Warren Zevon – A Certain Girl (1980)
5. Wilco – I’m The Man Who Loves You (2002)
6. Damien Jurado – Simple Hello (2005)
7. Ani DiFranco – Untouchable Face (2007)
8. Linda Ronstadt – Long Long Time (1970)
9. Ray Charles – You Don’t Know Me (1962)
10. Sam Cooke – Cupid (1963)
11. The Temptations – Just My Imagination (1971)
12. Earth, Wind & Fire – Wait (1979)
13. P.P. Arnold – To Love Somebody (1968)
14. The Association – Cherish (1966)
15. Cat Stevens – Here Comes My Baby (1967)
16. Bob Dylan – Most Of The Time (1989)
17. The Cardigans – For What It’s Worth (2006)
18. Matthew Sweet – Farther Down (1998)
19. Mazzy Star – Give You My Lovin’ (1990)
20. Nick Drake – Man In A Shed (1970)

GET IT!

More Songs About Love
More Mix CD-Rs

Categories: Mix CD-Rs, Songs About Love Tags:

Any Major Love in Black & White

February 11th, 2016 6 comments

Any Major Love in B&W

Last year’s Any Major Love mix featured a general spread of songs about being in love. For this year’s Valentine’s Day I’ve created a mix of songs about being in reciprocated love spanning the era between 1933 and 1962 (equivalent to a time span from 1987 to today, if I may make you feel very old).

Many of these are standards performed by the big names of that era, though not all are obvious choices. So we have Sinatra singing a song which 14 years later would be a hit for Dean Martin, and Bing Crosby sings with his wife at the time, both of whom are billed below the bandleader.

So grab your one true love, and get jiggy in the ways of a 1990s romantic comedy. It would work particularly well if you are a Harold and have a Maude.

Next week’s mix will provide an antidote to all the amorous happiness.

As always, this mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes covers made by a sweatshop-full of cupids. PW in comments.

1. Sammy Davis Jr. – Face To Face (1961)
2. Anita O’Day & Billy May – I Could Write A Book (1960)
3. Peggy Lee – Cheek To Cheek (1958)
4. Ella Fitzgerald – I Only Have Eyes For You (1962)
5. June Christy – The First Thing You Know, You’re In Love (1954)
6. Tony Bennett – Happiness Street (Corner Sunshine Square) (1956)
7. Frank Sinatra – Everybody Loves Somebody (1948)
8. Margaret Whiting – Come Rain Or Come Shine (1946)
9. Billie Holiday – Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall In Love) (1941)
10. Lena Horne – As Long As I Live (1944)
11. The King Cole Trio – I’m In The Mood For Love (1945)
12. Victor Young with Bing & Dixie Lee Cosby – The Way You Look Tonight (1936)
13. Mildred Bailey – These Foolish Things (1944)
14. Doris Day – Again (1949)
15. Gene Kelly – I’ve Got A Crush On You (1951)
16. Julie London – You’re Getting To Be A Habit With Me (1958)
17. Chris Connor – Embraceable You (1957)
18. Dinah Washington – What A Diff’rence A Day Makes (1959)
19. Ray Charles – It Had To Be You (1959)
20. Eddie Fisher – So In Love (1955)
21. Mel Tormé – Oh What A Night For Love (1961)
22. Billy Eckstine – No One But You (1954)
23. Dean Martin – I’ll Always Love You (1950)
24. Sarah Vaughan – These Things I Offer You (1951)
25. Tommy Dorsey and his Orchestra ft. Anna Boyer – I Concentrate On You (1940)
26. Swing and Sway with Sammy Kaye – Let There Be Love (1940)
27. Louis Armstrong and his Orchestra – I’ve Got The World On A String (1933)
28. Joe Turner’s Orchestral with Pete Johnson – Baby, Won’t You Marry Me (1948)

GET IT!

More Songs About Love
More Mix CD-Rs

 

Categories: Mix CD-Rs, Songs About Love Tags:

Any Major Love

February 12th, 2015 8 comments

Any Major Love

We all may have attended weddings during which the happy couple chose the most inappropriate tune for “Our Song”. Stalker theme Every Breath You Take, perhaps, “because every breath she takes I will be watching her”, or James Blunt’s psycho anthem You’re Beautiful “because, you know, she is beautiful”. The potential for awful choices is endless.

Relief is at hand with this compilation, bang on time for Valentine’s Day. This mix is useful for weddings, but I’ve tried not to make it an obvious wedding theme — The Dixie Cups can stay at home, as can Billy Idol.

It can work as a wedding proposal mix, even though it lacks the insistence of Beyoncé (or the cheery bounciness of the rather good Bruno Mars). And even though some songs speak of getting hitched — Springsteen is pretty clear about his intentions; clearly his little girl of the song is not the pregnant Mary nor the mother-in-law wielding Sherry, nor the unnamed wife with kid in Baltimore Jack, who feature on the same double LP — it is not exclusive to that purpose.

It might work best as a collection of love songs: some celebrating just being in love, some expressing hope for a nuptial future, some expressing love within marriage. I didn’t necessarily make this mix to get you laid, but if Peter Mayer’s or Deb Talan’s beautiful songs (based on poems by William Jay Smith and Pablo Neruda respectively) doesn’t make your beloved go all doe-eyed , you might have a problem. Ben Fold’s The Luckiest, meanwhile, might be the greatest love song in pop. Pity that the woman he wrote it for is now his ex-wife… In everything, I’ve tried to avoid the most obvious songs. If you are so fortunate as to have a loved one, perhaps some of the songs on this mix will help articulate how you feel.

As ever, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-romanced covers. The front cover photo is by Prawny; the gorgeous back cover photo by Dedulo Photos (both morguefile.com).

Happy Valentine’s Day!

1. Dinah Washington – Come Rain Or Come Shine (1954)
2. The Flamingos – I Only Have Eyes For You (1959)
3. The Association – Never My Love (1967)
4. The Platters – With This Ring (1967)
5. Honey Cone – Blessed Be Our Love (1971)
6. Minnie Riperton – Never Existed Before (1979)
7. Al Green – Let’s Stay Together (1972)
8. Ambrosia – Biggest Part Of Me (1980)
9. Alan Price – Groovy Times (1978)
10. Ron Sexsmith – Never Give Up (2006)
11. Ben Folds – The Luckiest (2001)
12. Deb Talan – Cherry Trees (2001)
13. Peter Mayer – Now Touch The Air Softly (1999)
14. Loggins & Messina – Danny’s Song (1972)
15. Bruce Springsteen – I Wanna Marry You (1980)
16. Indigo Girls – Power Of Two (1995)
17. Ben Harper – By My Side (1995)
18. Neil Young – Harvest Moon (1992)
19. Mary Chapin Carpenter – Grow Old With Me (1999)

GET IT!

More Mix CD-Rs

Categories: Mix CD-Rs, Songs About Love Tags:

Bouncing back

May 14th, 2010 5 comments

I will hardly reveal myself as the music blogosphere’s slightly less ugly version of Dr Phil when I observe that people recover from the end of serious relationships in very different ways. In this series of songs about love we have looked at various themes, including splitting up. Here we look at how protagonists in ten songs have bounced back, or not, from the death of a liaison.

* * *

Skeeter Davis – Gonna Get Along Without You Now (1964).mp3

Well, it’s easier to bounce back when our ex was a bit of a bounder. Look at the ex of Skeeter (or Teresa Brewer or Viola Wills or lately She & Him): one minute he proposes marriage, the next he’s running around “with every girl in town”, masking his two-timing ways by telling everybody that he and Skeeter are just friends. Who needs that? Not Skeeter (or Teresa or Viola or She). “I got along without you before I met you, gonna get along without you now.” And the philosophical lack of concern is followed by the triumphant zinger: “Thought I’d find somebody who is twice as cute , ’cause I didn’t like you anyhow.” Bouncebackability score: 10/10

.

Ben Folds – Landed (Strings version) (2005).mp3
Ben got out of the clutches of a controlling woman (as he tells it anyway). He and the ex moved to the West Coast, and separated from their old social circle. She seems have bullied Ben: “She liked to push me and talk me back down till I believed I was the crazy one. And in a way I guess I was.” She controlled access to him, so when people phoned, she’d not convey the message. Now he has walked out — “down comes the reign of the telephone tsar” — and it’s okay to call him. He’s ready to resume his old life, if that is possible: “And if you wrote me off, I’d understand it. ’Cause I’ve been on some other planet. So come pick me up, I’ve landed” — from that “other planet” and from the West Coast. Bouncebackability score: 9/10

.

Kris Kristofferson – From The Bottle To The Bottom (1969).mp3
Sometimes there is no bounce-back. Whatever solace there can be derived emanates from those friends in low places: Johnny Walker, Jim Beam, Jack Daniels. So it is here. Being asked whether he is happy apparently is bitter a joke. Or at least, “happy” is a concept that needs to be clearly defined before the question is posed. “It seems that since I’ve seen you last I done forgot the meaning of the word. If happiness is empty rooms and drinkin’ in the afternoon, well, I suppose I’m happy as a clam. But if it’s got a thing to do with smilin’ or forgettin’ you, well, I don’t guess that I could say I am.” Happy, that is. Freedom, eh? Living the dream? Not so much: “There’s no one here to carry on if I stay out the whole night long, or give a tinker’s damn if I don’t call. I’m livin’ like I wanted to, and doin’ things I wanna do, and nothin’ means a thing to me at all.” So we might think that Kris is not doing well. In fact, he’s doing worse.

How’s this for being down: “Did you ever see a down and outer waking up alone without a blanket on to keep him from the dew, when the water from the weeds has soaked the paper he’s been puttin’ in his shoes to keep the ground from comin’ through, and his future feels as empty as the pocket in his pants because he’s never seen a single dream come true? That’s the way that I’ve been feelin’ since the day I started falling from the bottle to the bottom, stool by stool.” He’s lost that bouncing feeling… Bouncebackability score: 1/10

.

Rilo Kiley – The Execution Of All Things (2002).mp3
There’s no post break-up messing around here: the now defunct relationship must be snuffed out. The split was humiliating to her, as we learn in the first verse, and her business now is to get over that. “Oh god, come quickly, the execution of all things. Let’s start with the bears and the air and mountains, rivers, and streams. Then we’ll murder what matters to you and move on to your neighbours and kids. Crush all hopes of happiness with disease ’cause of what you did.” So pretty much a scorched earth policy. And that comes laced with a bit of vengeful anticipation: “And lastly, you’re all alone with nothing left but sleep. But sleep never comes to you; it’s just the guilt and forever wakefulness of the weak.” Bouncebackability score: 7/10

.

Damien Rice – The Blower’s Daughter (2002).mp3
Here’s a guy not about to bounce back from what might be a broken relationship, unrequited love, unstated love, impossible love. Pretty much a love that has fucked over somebody to whom things tend to come fairly easy. He’s still obsessed: “I can’t take my eyes off of you”. Lisa Hannigan, giving voice the titular blower’s daughter, tries to calm him, pointing out that she didn’t say she loathes him, as he apparently thinks she does. Upshot is that much as he feels like hating her, he doesn’t. So he won’t keep his mind off her, “till I find somebody new”. So there’s hope for the bounce-back yet from whatever love our friend is suffering. Bouncebackability score: 3/10

.

Marit Larsen – Only A Fool (2006).mp3
Marit’s boyfriend (or perhaps husband; a ring changed hands and unspecified vows were made) betrayed her, and now she has dumped the chump. Our Norwegian songbird has “been changing after what you put me through; there is just no way that I’ll be coming home to you”. She thinks she’d be a bit of an idiot to do so, as she notes with admirable forthrightness in the chorus: “Only a fool would do this again. Only a fool would let you back in. There is no you left to embrace, there is no word would make it feel safe.” Her naive trust was broken, and that must have hurt. But she’s in a better place than her apparently pleading ex: “It feels good here, better than you know. Isn’t it only fair that you try and let it go?”
Bouncebackability score: 10/10

.

Mazzy Starr – Halah (1990).mp3
Sometimes you need closure before bouncing back. Hope Sandoval, Mazzy Starr’s singer, is still looking for that. Instead, there is a lot of confusion. “It’s like I told you, I’m over you somehow.” Well, that is good. But what’s this? “Before I close the door I need to hear you say goodbye.” Ah, not so much over it then. “Baby won’t you change your mind?” And that awful obstacle to closure and bounce-back: hope. The ex owes Sandoval an explanation which she won’t receive. So there won’t be closure any time soon. Bouncebackability score: 2/10

.

Ricky Peterson – Livin’ It Up (1990).mp3
The song has featured in the songs about love series before, in Bill LaBounty’s original version (though that link is dead. The song is on this mix). Here jazz singer Ricky Peterson is giving vocals to the anthem for the false bounce-back. Our friend admits that he had gone through a tough time since the break-up. He even put a service on the phone. And whatever that is, it sounds like the action of a man in a deep funk. But he’s out of that, he informs us (and, more to the point, her). He scraped his heart up off the floor! Oh, and he’s having a majestic time now. Living it up, he is, “right from the women to the wine. Livin’ out all those fantasies I never did get to, crazy things I never got to do”. Now that’s bouncing back like kangaroo on methamphetamine. But all’s not as it seems. “Every now and then I must confess, I’m not up to all this happiness. Sometimes I wonder if the place I’m at is where I do belong.” So what’s missing from making this great life complete? Well, all this livin’ it up from women to wine involving crazy fantasies…” it don’t seem like living without you”. Bouncebackability score: 6/10

.

Tom Waits – Innocent When You Dream (78) (1987).mp3
Oh curse you, wicked self-recrimination. Tom and his girl had something beautiful: “I made a golden promise that we would never part. I gave my love a locket.” Tell me more, tell me more, did you get very far? Evidently not. “And then I broke her heart.” So instead of running through a pollen paradise straight out of a shampoo commercial, Tom now observes that “the bats are in the belfry, the dew is on the moor”. But when he sleeps, he resuscitates the happy memories. “The fields are soft and green”, but “it’s memories that I’m stealing”. The song title will have alerted the reader of Waits’ punchline: “But you’re innocent when you dream.” Tom isn’t about to forgive himself for what he has done, is he? Bouncebackability score: 2/10

.

Rainbow – Since You’ve Been Gone (1979).mp3
Head East – Since You’ve Been Gone (1978).mp3

Written by Russ Ballard, we have two proxies expressing his thoughts (Cherie & Marie Currie’s version must wait for a couple of months to feature in a different context). Our jilted lover can take a lot of punishment, including poison letters and telegrams that just go to show she doesn’t give a damn. And the cause for that readiness to be reconciled? Well, see, “these four walls are closing in” and recurring dreams cause our anti-hero to fall out of his bed at night, possibly as a result of reading her letter at night “beneath the back street light” (is he stalking her?). His mental well-being is on the edge. “Since you been gone, I’m outta my head, can’t take it.” Witchcraft may be involved: “Could I be wrong, but since you been gone, you cast the spell — so break it.” Oooohwaowaow ohwaowoawoh indeed. Bouncebackability score: 1/10

More Songs About Love (happy, unhappy, ending etc)

This is Splitsville

February 16th, 2010 3 comments

Much as there are songs about the sweetness of being in love, as we saw last week, the shards of a broken relationship glisten on the corridors of popular music. This lot of ten songs has a fair share of numbers dealing with break-ups and divorce; happily not an action I am contemplating.

* * *

P.P. Arnold – Letter To Bill (1968).mp3
Poor Bill. This morning he left his happy home for the office in good spirits, but when he returns he will not embraced by a loving P.P. She is gone, having left him an enigmatic letter announcing her departure that morning. It will be of scant comfort to poor Bill to learn that “it’s not that I don’t love you” and that “I’m not leaving you for anything you’ve done” (ah, the old “it’s not you. Nooooo! It’s me” chestnut). Bill probably will not feel comforted by her reassurance that she still remembers “the good times”, certainly not if he hadn’t realised there actually had been bad times. Thoughtfully she left housekeeping instruction (“tell the milkman to drop down on the order”), and observe her counsel concerning neighbourhood gossip. But most of all, Bill will be dismayed by her admission of having written the letter hurriedly under pressure of the train timetable. She couldn’t even bother to write a proper letter? Ouch.

.

Kool & the Gang – Too Hot (1979).mp3
Kids, don’t get married too young. Mr and Mrs Kool were 17 when they fell in love, “high school sweethearts, love was so brandnew”. So they got married and things were fine. Until they drifted out of love. Now, with all the anger and recrimination, the climate is one of excessive heat, as the song title alerts us. Kool (yeah, I know, it’s really J.T. singing) doesn’t quite understand how or why everything changed. Apparently, they failed “to stop and feel the [unspecified] need”. Oh, but it hurts. “So long ago, you were my love. Feeling the pain!” The excellent guitar solo won’t palliate the distress. Kool continues to assure us that it is indeed very hot before letting us in on the twist: recalling that once they took their vows, he insists: “We’re man and wife forever!” And then the final plea: “Baby, please won’t you listen?” Ah, it looks like only Mrs Kool wants out.

.

Tompall Glaser – If I’d Only Come And Gone (1975).mp3
You’ll remember Tompall Glaser as the co-writer of Streets Of Baltimore (featured in The Originals Vol. 32), which could feature in this post. Here, Tompall got himself tied down after what seems to have been a one-night stand. She had no idea that he was a bit of a cad — “If you’d only stopped to read cold hard words I caved on the other bedroom walls” — and now she’s stuck with a man who wants out. He regrets that he’ll hurt her. If only he had come and gone, Tompall notes by way of double entendre, “you’d be safely tucked away among the pleasures I’d remember ’stead of laying here beside me fearin’ restless thoughts inside me that might awaken with the breaking of each new day.” Yes, if he had “only come and gone the way I’ve always done with summer girls before, shared one night with you and never reached for more, then we wouldn’t face this long and painful righting of the wrong”.

.

Boz Scaggs – It’s Over (1976).mp3
Boz is having what seems to be an inner confrontation with two contrary voices conversing in this deceptively upbeat song, with former Ikette Maxine Green doing backing vocals duty. First there’s the lovelorn man who can’t face up to the end of a relationship. “Best of friends never part; best of fools has loved forever from the bottom of his heart.” The second voice, in the chorus, gives it to him straight, in a brutish and artless fashion: “Why can’t you just get it through your head? It’s over, it’s over now. Yes, you heard me clearly now, I said it’s over, it’s over now.” But Voice One isn’t ready to hear that, protesting wretchedly: “You might say that. I can’t take it, I can’t take it. Lord, I swear I just can’t take it no more.” Voice Two urges him to cut his loses: “Go away…it’s too late to turn back now, and it don’t matter anyhow.” And then comes Voice One’s admission of guilt: “I’m to blame; can’t go on the same old way.” And still he protests that he’s not over her.

.

Tift Merritt – Keep You Happy (2008).mp3
The relationship isn’t over, but it will be soon. There will be no drama; it will just slip away. Tift doesn’t want it to end but is resigned to it. He is dutifully holding her, but “a feeling has me and tells me it will never stay. Your heart beats miles now, I feel them as they fly away. Close gets so far away.” He is drifting away and she yearns for a place where she could keep him happy. But there is no such place. She sadly reflects: “Why do we pretend there is something to hold onto? See how my world fell in? I was trying to hold you; I was just trying to hold you.” And the sound of a slowly crumbling heart is is set to the prettiest of melodies. What kind of man could ever tire of the lovely Tift Merritt?

.

Hem – Too Late To Turn Back Now (2006).mp3
Same story here: the breakdown is inevitable and irrevocable. Here, the pair have clearly done pretty horrible things: “You know we both been feeling reckless since we crashed into the come down.” Bridges have been burnt. “What will keep you next to me, my love, since it’s too late to turn back now.” And yet there is always a flicker of hope. “I caught your face in the reflection, I thought I recognised a corner of your smile. A tired light from your direction; that will keep me in the meanwhile.” And still she knows, they will keep moving forward into separate futures.
.

R.B. Greaves – Take A Letter Maria (1969).mp3
Our man R.B. is a pragmatic sort of guy. Coming home one evening, he finds his wife with another man. More emotional types, usually found in country music, might take a gun and shoot the wife and/or her lover; and, if they have no intentions of writing a song about it, perhaps bring the sorry scene to a climax by means of suicide. Not so Ronald Bertam Aloysius Greaves III (apparently a nephew of Sam Cooke). Clearly a man of professional success, he calls in his secretary, the titular Maria, to dictate a terse letter addressed to his wife: “Say I won’t be coming home, gonna start a new life.” And don’t forget to send a copy to his lawyer. Divorce business out of the way, we get an idea as to why Mrs Greaves had John Terry paying nocturnal visit. “Was I wrong to work nights to try to build a good life? All work and no play has just cost me a wife.” Ah, but it seems that R.B. hopes that all work and no play might have brought him closer to a liaison with Maria, who apparently has been a good secretary to him. He comes on strong: “I never really noticed how sweet you are to me. It just so happens I’m free tonight. Would you like to have dinner with me?” Our friend is indeed a pragmatists; dictating the letter to Maria was just a ruse to let the her know that he no longer is attached. Word of warning: office romances are terrible ideas.

.

Barbra Streisand – One Less Bell To Answer/A House Is Not A Home (1971).mp3
The Burt Bacharach/Hal David song was a hit for the 5th Dimension (featured on the Burt Bacharach mix), but let’s have Barbra’s perspective from 1971. There is a bright side to a split. Babs enumerates them: one less bell to answer, of course; one less egg to fry, less tidying up. Great! Except, and your hunch was quite correct, she is not happy. Not at all happy. All she does, as Johnny Cash once did, is to “cry, cry, cry”. When the doorbell goes, it reminds her of him. More tears (which, as Barbra would later note in another song, are not enough). “I end each day the way I start out: crying my heart out.” Even simple grammar falls victim to desperation: “one less man to pick up after” (just how many men are you living with, Babs?). But we forgive her grammatical lapses — for which, in any case, we ought to blame Hald David — as we feel her pain: “Somebody tell me, please: where did he go, why did he go, how could he leave me?” My guess is that he couldn’t live on just one fried egg any longer. Babs expands on the post-split vibe in the second part of the medley, noting a house is not a home when it’s empty of love.

.

Tammy Wynette – D.I.V.O.R.C.E. (1968).mp3
Standing submissively by her man didn’t work out too well for Tammy, and today is the day the divorce is coming through. She is hurting at the end of her marriage, of course, because she still loves the man by whom she had stood. But mostly she feels the pain for four-year-old Joe, who is cheerfully oblivious to the imminent trauma. Mom and Dad evidently have done little to prepare the kid for the rupture, having thrashed out matters by spelling them out, literally, Sesame Street style. “We spell out the words we don’t want him to understand” like one might spell out “T.O.Y. or maybe S.U.R.P.R.I.S.E.”. Those are fun words; D.I.V.O.R.C.E. and C.U.S.T.O.D.Y. obviously less so. Tammy, who has custody of Joe, suffers pain from two sides: the prospects of losing her husband and of seeing the little boy suffer. “I love you both and it will be pure H.E. double L for me. Oh, I wish that we could stop this D.I.V.O.R.C.E.”. Alas, we get a sense that this is not going to happen.

.

Rilo Kiley – Breaking Up (2007).mp3
Breaking up need not be all emotional trauma. Rilo Kiley’s Jenny Lewis evidently thinks that worse things could happen. “It’s not as if New York City burnt down to the ground once you drove away.” That’s not to make light of a break-up, however. It hurts. “Are we breakin’ up? Is there trouble between you and I? Did my heart break enough? Did it break enough this time?” The emotions are conflicting, though tinged by resigned cynicism. “Here’s to all the pretty words we will never speak. Here’s to all the pretty girls you’re gonna meet.” Hey, maybe he feels bad too. Or maybe not. He let Jenny down, and she kicks back: “Betrayal is a thorny crown; you wear it well, just like a king.” And in the chorus, the ultimate fuck-you to the ex, repeated three times: “Oooh eh [sounds like a taunting ‘nyah nyah nyah’], it feels good to be free.”

Songs by the Dumped
More Songs About Love (happy, unhappy, ending etc)

Being in love again – Part 2

February 13th, 2010 7 comments

To aid the Valentine’s Day scramble of many lovers to find the right song to express their sincere love, here is the second lot of songs about being in blissful, requited love (the eagle-eyed reader may have seen this post up incompletely for a few hours in the week thanks to a mis-clicked button. Looks like the Elton song is very popular). If none of these and none of the first part’s songs do the trick, try the two mixes linked to at the end of this post. As promised, next week we’ll do break-ups.

* * *

Elton John – Seasons (1971).mp3
Written for the 1971 film Friends, this is Elton John at his musically most articulate. I the brief lyrics we have a friendship blossoming, through the seasons, into romantic love. It’s the song that cures the dreaded disease of frienditis (so brilliantly explained on the Todger Talk blog). “Oh, it’s funny how young lovers start out as friends.” Or older lovers, Elton and Bernie.

.

Terry Callier – I’d Rather Be With You (1973).mp3
The folk-inflected soul man lays out his options in this rather lovely ballad. “I could take my guitar and hit the road, try to be a star.” He even explains the method by which he would aim to accomplish that goal (basically involving playing gigs as a one-man band). He further points out that he could — just like that — take a Greyhound bus west “to watch the sun set on San Francisco Bay.” Oh, there must be loads of things he could do, but — and here the song’s title sort of scoops the punchline — he’d rather be with her (her being, we fervently hope, the friendly lady on the album cover).  And like any lovestruck fool, he launches into sappy metaphor: “It’s your bright sunshine that lifted all the shadow off my mind and your sweet love led me to a brighter day.” Hence his reassurance: “So you never have to worry ’bout me leaving you behind.” Don’t want those shadows returning. And then the peculiar challenge: “Wait and see, I won’t ever turn away…” He asks her to await and then observe nothing happening? Hell, if he chooses to sacrifice the potential for loads of groupies (presuming that one-man bands attract many of those), she should trust his sincerity. And if that doesn’t do, then his insistently repeated promise of the title should persuade her.

.

Loretta Lynn & Conway Twitty – You’re The Reason Our Kids Are Ugly (1982).mp3
You wouldn’t guess it from the title, but this is in fact a country song. Loretta and Conway are in a good-natured slanging match, blaming one another for their diminishing finances and good looks — and the apparent hideousness of their kids. Though, if I may interject, Loretta, your kid’s baldness isn’t Conway’s fault — androgenetic alopecia is passed down the mother’s genes. So Conway complains: “You’re the reason I changed to beer from soda pop”, and Loretta moans: “And you’re the reason I never get to go to the beauty shop”. But all that is not as important as what they have: “looks ain’t everything, and money ain’t everything. But I love you just the same”.

.

The Flamingos – I Only Have Eyes For You (1959).mp3
Originally sung by Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler in the 1934 movie Dames, this is the only version one needs. The introduction, “My love must be a kind of blind love, I can’t see anyone but you” is filled with tension. The singer seems desperate about the debilitating effects of being love. Having nervously ascertained that the present status of the sun is of no concern of him, our friend relaxes and croons that he has eyes only for her (though with careless positioning of the word “only”). So dazed is he that “I don’t know if we’re in a garden or on a crowded avenue”, which can be quite dangerous — you might fall down a well or be knocked over by an Acme delivery van. But of what menace are such perils when a man is with his girl, and “maybe millions of people go by, but they all disappear from view. And I Only Have Eyes For You”.

.

Ray Noble’s Band with Al Bowlly – Midnight, The Stars And You (1932).mp3
We previously encountered Noble and singer Bowlly in the Sinatra special of The Originals with their 1936 hit version of I’ve Got You Under My Skin. This song precedes that by four years, and is probably best known as the song that plays out The Shining (the scene in which we see Jack Torrance’s face in the old ballroom photograph). The lyrics are brief and elementary: “Midnight with the stars and you, midnight and a rendezvous. Your eyes held a message, tender saying: ‘I surrender all my love to you.” A few more platitudes, Noble fulfilling his job description by leading the band, and we’re done. Time enough then to have a look at the trailer for the upbeat version of The Shining (“Meet Jack Torrance…).
.

Maxine Nightingale – If I Ever Lose This Heaven (1975).mp3
In one of at least four versions of this song released in 1975, English soulstress Maxine Nightingale is on a paranoid trip. See, her man seems to be a bit moody sometimes, and she interprets that as an immediate threat of impending dumphood. “If you’re foolin’, only foolin’, all I ask is ‘Why’?” His love has built her up so high that should he drop her, she’ll be in freefall. “If I ever, ever, ever lose this heaven… I’ll never be the same.” With the vulnerable honesty/emotional blackmail out of the way, let’s accentuate the positive: “You’re fascinating, more fascinating than the dark side of the moon.”  Yeah, okay, if that floats your boat. But even if potential references to overrated snoozefest LPs fail to flatter, this line should ensure that Maxine won’t lose her heaven: “You’re so exciting that I’m re-writing the book of love called You.” After that, pal, you cannot possibly dump her.

.

Badly Drawn Boy – Magic In The Air (live, 2002).mp3
Ah, the falling in love… At this point, Damon Gough pays no mind to the consequences of all the heartaches it may later produce. He’s giddy, and it seems she is giddy too. “We laughed so much, then we cried all night. And you left your shoes in the tree, with me. I’ll wear them to your house, tonight. Magic in the air, tonight.” There is not much evidence of embarrassment or inhibition here. At the end, the singer notes: “Love is contagious, when it’s alright.” Now, with all the romantic buoyancy, why does the melody sound so pensive?
.

Heatwave – Always and Forever (1977).mp3
People in love should be counselled not to make promises you can’t keep (and not to lie about love to get laid!). “I know tomorrow will still be the same, ’cause we’ve got a life of love that won’t ever change.” Yeah, wait till the serotonin wears off. So he expects it all to be sunshine and melting smiles, and that is all very nice, dear. But he has also hit on an essential ingredient in sustaining the love, communication and sharing: “Take time to tell me you really care. And feel sad tomorrow together.” So perhaps he’ll keep his insistent promise: “I’ll always love you, forever, forever.”

.

Lisa Loeb – Sandalwood (1995).mp3
This is the song where the singer tells us that none of the above applies to the love she has for her man. “She [random singer, possibly a singer-songwriter with a guitar] can’t tell me that all of the love songs have been written, ’cause she’s never been in love with you before.” Oh, fresh true love, deluded that it is so different from all the other true loves. But no doubt, Lisa is in love. The fear and the passion and the clumsy idealisation. The fear: “I’m trying to keep cool, but everyone here likes you. I’m not the only one.” The passion: “I want to kiss the back of your neck, the top of your spine where your hair hits, and gnaw on your fingertips and fall asleep.” Less promisingly, she threatens: “I’ll talk you to sleep.” Not in a restaurant, presumably. And the clumsy idealising: “Your skin smells lovely like sandalwood. Your hair falls soft like animals.” I may seem cynical, so let me make it clear that I do think the final verse is quite lovely: “Your hand, so hot, burns a hole in my hand.”

.

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

More Songs About Love (happy, unhappy, ending etc)

Being in love again – Part 1

February 11th, 2010 2 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.

* * *

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..

.

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.
.


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.

.

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?

.

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)

.


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.”

.

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?

.

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)

Unrequited love again

November 6th, 2009 7 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.

* * *

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.

.

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.

.

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.

.

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.

.

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…

.

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.

.

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?”

.

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.

.

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.”

.

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.”

.

More unrequited love songs

July 6th, 2009 10 comments

Unrequited love provides us with a rich mine of heartbreaking songs. So following from the first part on love that is unreciprocated, here are eight more takes of chances missed, emotions deferred, affections unexpressed and love rejected. And, fans of nagging pains in the guts rejoice, there’ll be a third instalment soon.

* * *

Scott Walker – Joanna.mp3
joannaScott had summer romance, and now the eponymous girl is gone and he is pining, living on memories — “You made the man a child again, so sweetly. He breathed your smile, lived in your eyes completely. And on his heart there’s still a trace of you” — and vain hope that they will be together again. She clearly has forgotten him, or wants to forget him. She might even have told him so (perhaps by the passive-aggressive method of ignoring his communications). Yet our lovelorn crooner is not ready to give up: “I love you, but nothing in this world could make you mine. Yet still in time…you may remember me and change your mind.”

.

The Cardigans – For What It’s Worth (acoustic version).mp3
Oh shit, she had a casual fling (the so-called “fuck buddy” or “friends with privileges” phenomenon) and fell in unreciprocated love. And then she let it slip: “A four-letter word got stuck in my head; the dirtiest word that I’ve ever said”. And it doesn’t start with F. More than that, “it’s making me feel alright.” Well, transiently perhaps, as she acknowledges in the qualifier to her confession of love: “For what it’s worth, I love you. And what is worse, I really do.” Evidently, the guy freaks out. So, having pledged (to herself) patience that he’ll come around, she later tries to entice him back into bed (“The four-letter word is out of my head”). And here’s where her confusion really sets in. Follow it: “For what it’s worth, I like you. And what is worse, I really do. Things have been worse, and we had fun, fun, fun till I said I love you. And what is worse, I really do.” No point resisting it; from here on in she repeats that great line: “For what it’s worth, I love you. And what is worse, I really do.”

.

Frank Sinatra – I Get A Kick Out Of You.mp3
sinatra_kickRarely has unrequited love been as jaunty as in Cole Porter’s I Get A Kick Out Of You. Frank — and let’s not call him by the affectation “Francis”; our man was baptised Frank — goes to great lengths to tell us about the things that mean nothing to him. Champagne? Pah! Airborne sex? His idea of nothing to do. Cocaine? “I’m sure that if I took even one sniff it would bore me terrifically too” (as do Be Bop and, oddly, Spanish perfume). The only thing that gives him a kick is, to use Sinatra lingo, a “broad” who ob-vious-ly does not adore him. This is the swinging 1962 version; his 1953 take will run next Friday.

.

Matthew Sweet – Farther Down.mp3
“Into you so far the words go, so much clearer than you hear. Into you goes everything I know, no one else knows how I feel.” Without her, our man is in pain (happily, then, the sound is not of the emo variety). “Farther down, I’m desperate for you, where you never have to know. Farther down, I’m still without a clue; till something…takes my pain away.” Matthew doesn’t let us in on his pain-relief programme, but we can presume that it involves either alcohol and drugs. The trouble is, does she really want to hook up with a pissed junkie?

.

Vertical Horizon – Everything That You Want.mp3
Frienditis is the psoriasis of unrequited love. Here we have a guy who is in love with a girl who won’t stop blabbering on about the guy she is unrequited love with and how that dude is everything she wants and needs. Well, our man here (who in the movie version of the song would be played by Michael Cera) knows what she needs and should want. With a self-pitying flourish at the end, he echoes her prattle as he observes: “I am everything you want. I am everything you need. I am everything inside of you that you wish you could be [whatever that means]. I say all the right things at exactly the right time. But I mean nothing to you, and I don’t know why.” Hmmm, lack of self-confidence, perhaps?

.
Linda Ronstadt – Long, Long Time.mp3
ronstadtAnd frienditis from the female perspective. It seems that the guy is going away (relocating, or perhaps getting married), and Linda, on this song from 1970, is trying to get to grips with the door slamming shut on perennial hope. “I’ve done everything I know to try and make you mine, and I think I’m gonna love you for a long, long time.” Oh, she tried to show him how she felt as he was whoring around — making Linda blink back the tears — and he never noticed. So now she’ll be “living in the memory of a love that never was”.

.

Bright Eyes – Make A Plan To Love Me.mp3
Being in love is rubbish when the recipient of your affection is in love with the career. “You said you had your foot in the door; you buy and then you sell, you buy some more,” Oberst observes before bluntly requesting: “Make a plan to love me sometime soon”. He points out, quite reasonably, that life is shirt and success and money don‘t compensate for love. “Some things you lose you don’t get back, so just know what you have.” Because the love deal is on the table only for a limited time. “Life is too short to be a fool; I don’t owe you that.” So she’ll have to close the love deal, or — and he might be bluffing here — he’ll take his romantic trade elsewhere: “Do what you feel, whatever is cool. But I just have to ask [repeatedly!]: Will you make a plan to love me sometime soon?

.

Kenny Nolan – I Keep Dreamin’.mp3
kenny_nolanIn his 1976 hit, Kenny had the relationship all mapped out: barefoot walks on the beach, kids with “little smiles so warm and tender, looking up at us” et cetera. In absence of all that, he daydreams , presumably as one does in TV comedies where these fantasies are introduced by a harp riff (present here, of course) and soft edges. The kicker here is that Kenny is not in love with anybody other than the idea of romantic and domestic bliss. He is in unrequited love with love.

.

In this series so far:
Unrequited love
Love hurts

Being in love
Longing for love
Heartbreak
Adultery
Death
Impossible Love
Love Songs Mix
Somebody Done Somebody Wrong
Dumped & defiant