Thursday, February 19, 2015

Not quite a love song

When I was a teenager, growing up in the frozen tundra, one of my prized possessions was my radio. I don't remember now what it looked like—I went through a lot of radios of various sizes and abilities—but I do remember Friday nights, listening to the radio and love song dedications.

Before I was old enough to go out unsupervised on Friday nights and on those nights when my mom didn't drop me off with a group of friends at the skating rink or the high school for the football game, I would hole up in my room and listen to those love songs. They were essential in the formation of my views on love.

And, growing up in the 80s, it was a fine time for love songs and power ballads. I mean seriously, I have 2 words for you—Air Supply. Before they were cheesy, when everyone coveted that hair and those feelings. Le sigh.

Now, I no longer have a radio but one of my prized possessions is my iTunes, crammed with over 5,000 songs. Some old, some new, some rock, some country, a lot of punk, and the songs of my youth, too. Some of those love songs I used to listen to. And every now and then, when I'm shuffling down the street in my car with my iTunes blaring, one of those old love songs will come up.

And I realize that not every love song is created equal. Hell, not every "love song" is really a love song at all. For instance, this Kiss classic:

You say you feel so empty
That our house just ain't a home
And I'm always somewhere else
And you're always there alone
Yeah. Doesn't that just warm your heart? I mean, it's still lovely—the harmonies, the strings, the lyrics? Not so much.

An oldie that's always been a heartstring-tugger was "Holding Her and Loving You" by Earl Thomas Conley. I guess you don't even need to hear those lyrics to get the gist of this classic country cheating song. I guess I'm just more of a fan of the classic country drinking songs—"sittin' on a barstool, actin' like a durn fool?" Yeah, I can relate.

Or maybe Nazareth's "Love Hurts." That one was always in heavy rotation. And maybe these songs are really not love songs but heartbreak songs. But if you're going to do a breakup song, do the original, like Greg Kihn's "Breakup Song," which isn't even trying to pretend to be a love song:

They really don't write like that anymore. Or if you prefer, try Pearl Jam's "Black" and go straight for the emo:

Or have fun with it, like the J. Geils and just embrace the fact that sometimes? "Love Stinks."

Disclaimer: I don't hate love or love songs.


  1. I am minded of a latter-day Carpenters lyric: "It's a dirty old shame when all you get from love is a love song."

    Color me old and shamed, if not particularly dirty.

  2. My first radio was this little lavender tape player. And the first tape I had was Garth Brooks. My mom was a fan and I had to listen to what she was listening to. I still know all the words!