If you need a specific day to be reminded to show your love, then you’re not in love. Love is not a dictated-by-marketing-executives-to-sell-more-shit emotion. It is an all-encompassing feeling that cannot let you not show your love on a daily basis. But, as Haddaway so rightly asked, ‘What Is Love?’ Well, personally, this writer thinks that “baby, don’t hurt me” is not the correct answer, unless it is the sort of special love reserved for maybe once a year.
This, however, is a question that I am ill-equipped to answer. So, at this time, I would like to hand over to three of the best lyricists this nation has produced, and their love songs that never get on “Now That’s What I Call Love (Because I am Too Fucking Thick To Realise What I Actually Think Or Feel, So I Need EMI To Re-Package It For Me, Again, As I Have Lost The Copy I Bought Last Year, In An Attempt To Show My Partner I Love Them) Volume 3”.
The first I want to introduce you to is Billy Bragg. Much derided as a stereotypical ‘looney lefty’ for his political leanings and outspoken views, he has penned some of the best love songs of modern times. His 1988 album ‘Workers Playtime’ openly mocks this inaccurate portrayal of himself, and is an album of love, craft and tenderness. His gruff, Essex tones deliver some of the warmest lyrics, like Marvin Gaye smoking Bensons on a council estate in a West Ham scarf:
“But girl, I love you so much,
That sometimes its such
I’d walk a mile with a stone in my shoe”
The second is as close as anyone has ever got to actually making the sound of love. I am sure you all have sounds that you love, or sounds that have made you feel love, but does it actually sound like it? Well, Guy Garvey’s merry band of troubadours, Elbow, started the multi-platinum selling ‘The Seldom Seen Kid’ album with one of the most emotional and beautiful cocktails of huge brass, regal fanfares and lyrics. I am convinced that in future years Garvey’s lyrics will be taught in schools, as it is poerty of the highest order.
“You are the only thing,
In any room you’re ever in…”
Lastly, and to top it all off, is not only a favourite love song of all time but, this writer’s favourite song of all time. It changed and inspired a musical life. It turned the unbearable, teenage pain and anguish of unrequited love, the nervousness and fear of rejection, and put it to a score that combined independent record label sensitivity with a string arrangement that melts the hardest of hearts. Morrissey is a singer that engenders adoration and disgust in equal measure, but there is humour, passion and genuine panic in his voice, as he desperately tries to draw on the courage to tell his love what he feels. The closing track from the seminal ‘The Queen Is Dead’ album, ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’ has the drama of the moment and the reassuring arm around the shoulder to let you know that, if it all goes horribly wrong, someone has been there before you, and will be again. And if that isn’t something you’ve felt before – the paralysing fear of the moment when you need to leap into the unknown – then you really don’t know what love is.
“And in the darkened underpass,
I thought ‘Oh, God, my chance has come at last!’
But then a strange fear gripped me
And I just couldn’t ask”
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