For this romance flavoured edition of the Valentine ‘Insight Magazine’ I thought that it would be topical to explore lyrics, music and songs in the pivotal role that they play as a backdrop to romance. The best love songs have always been conceived when ‘a chemical imbalance in the brain’ prompts inspired words to flow easily in praise of a great love or a person who is loved dearly. This inspiration usually happens at the height of infatuation in the early stages of romance, or in a more circumspect way, during the course of the romance as it blossoms.
The end of a romance is also fertile ground in which to find inspiration for words to describe heartbreak, loneliness and yearning after the love has gone but is not forgotten. It is in our human condition to take things like love for granted and to better appreciate it after a relationship has broken down. There is a Tony Bennet song which starts with the beautiful line ‘Love is lovelier the second time around’ but we’re not here to explore that scenario, we are going to highlight lyrics of what are considered great love songs and how love songs affect us as we identify with their lyrics.
The late great Frank Sinatra did an introduction to one of the great love songs of the last sixty years. He said that Beatle George Harrison’s ‘Something’ was one of the greatest love songs ever written because it never once mentioned the word love in the lyric. ‘Something in the way she moves, attracts me like no other lover…’ must rank as one of the best opening lines he ever sang and ‘old blue eyes’ knew a thing or two about love songs, lovers and moves! You can choose any cover version that you like or the original but I will stay with the memory of a live version of it by fellow Beatle Sir Paul McCartney at the O2 in London which he played on a ukulele which George Harrison had gifted him.
Our very own Albert Hammond wrote ‘The air that I breathe’ with a poignant lyric by the late Mike Hazelwood. ‘Sometimes all I need is the air that I breathe and to love you.’ What a killer line from the song which ‘The Hollies’ had a big hit with and has since gone on to become one of Hammond’s classic flagships and perhaps the most covered song from his catalogue.
Another Beatle, the late great John Lennon who would have been eighty this coming October, wrote a truly beautiful ballad for Yoko Ono called ‘Woman.’
One of the verses goes ‘Woman I know you understand, the little child inside the man, please remember my life is in your hands, and woman hold me close to your heart, however distant don’t keep us apart, after all it’s written in the stars….’ How beautifully co-dependent and romantic is that coming from a man who at the height of his inspiration wrote ‘Imagine,’ the greatest peace song of all time?
I must hasten to add that you can’t ignore the beautiful melodies that drive the above-mentioned songs. Melody is an integral part of a song. On its own it can warm our hearts and lift our spirits, but when a great melody is married to an inspired lyric driven by love as its theme, you can have sublime moments when we listeners are at one with the song. And if a listener can identify his or her own tender feelings with the song then we have a ‘classic love song’ which does what it says on the tin and will live long in their memory.
In my other life as a musician there are a few songs that were constantly requested to play as wedding songs: Bryan Adams’ ‘Everything I do I do it for you’, Aerosmith’s ‘I don’t want to miss a thing’ and ‘I swear’ by All-4-One. Let’s examine some of the lyrics that made those songs ‘our wedding song’ for many couples we had the privilege to play music for on their wedding day.
‘I swear by the moon and the stars in the skies I’ll be there. For better or worse, till death us do part, I’ll love you with every beat of my heart.’
Those lines are crying to be made into a wedding song and they were too. I hope that those romantic couples that danced to Horizon playing ‘I swear’ at their wedding can look back at their wedding videos. What a wedding song that was.
In 1991 gravel voiced Canadian Bryan Adams came up with ‘Everything I do I do it for you ‘ and the lyric goes: ‘Oh you can’t tell me it’s not worth fighting for, I can’t help it there’s nothing I want more. I would fight for you, I’d lie for you, I’d walk the wire for you, you know it’s true, everything I do I do it for you.’ That is still a gem of a song and was the theme for ‘Robin Hood’ as well as one of the most played wedding songs of the 90’s.
‘Don’t wanna close my eyes, I don’t want to fall asleep ‘cause I’d miss you babe, and I don’t want to miss a thing.’ That song ‘I don’t want to miss a thing’ by Aerosmith was a dance floor magnet for young lovers in 1998 when it also won an Academy Award for Best Original Song, and even if you were to say that the lyrics are ‘corny’ on any of the above songs you would be forgetting that their lyrics are married to great melodies and the powerful force that is romance anchors our feelings for a few minutes and draws on memories of what it was like for our hearts to miss a beat or two. You would also be hopelessly outnumbered in your views and cast as unromantic – don’t go there.
I rest my case for the ‘Power of Love’ (also a famous song title in 1984) and for the gift of music which has and always will play a big part to couples and romance. Have a great Valentine and if you can’t say the words, let music in a love song say them for you. That’s what love songs are for and they are still the finest arrows to pierce a heart with – sweetly of course!