Sunday, 11 March 2007

"Lost Love Songs" published March 11

I miss the love song. Something from the 70s by James Taylor or Bread when women were gorgeous things who loved men and saved them from a life of emotional agony and uncertainty. When they sang to us:
“Baby I’m a want you, baby I’m a need you.” “I’m lost without your love.” “How sweet it is to be loved by you.” “Before the day I met you, life was so unkind, but your love was the key to my peace of mind.”
Oh happy days. An era when we were painted as the angels we truly are. Peaceful bearers of soft and soothing spirits, applicators of the salve of contentment, wafting about in a patchouli cloud and capable of mind altering sexual encounters. Sadly the 70s was the last great era of the love song, when, lying curled up next to our teal blue transistor radio listening to Radio Hauraki we could dream of a time when we would be that woman. The one with the long sandy hair, wearer of the muslin dress, living in one long eternal summer’s day and possessing a tanned body about to be ravaged in the wheat fields by a man with facial hair, a “Sh*t Happens” T-shirt and a joint in his back pocket. To listen at the age of 13 to Sammy Johns: Her long legs were tanned and brown …moonlight dancing off her hair.She woke up and took me by the hand. She's gonna love me in my Chevy van and that's alright with me.”
And then to wake up five years later and realise that there you were with your tanned legs in the back of a blue Holden EH stationwagon with your boyfriend living the love song dream. Shame you had to have two melanomas removed from those legs 10 years later, but so far the joints don’t seem to have done much harm.
Today there are no love songs to teach young girls that love can be a simple act of joy. Just misongynistic hip hop lyrics calling them “biatch”, and encouraging them to shake their ass and move their bomb ass pussy. Even pop rock darling John Meyer serves up an encouraging song title Your Body is a Wonderland but manages to insult our intelligence:
One mile to every inch of your skin like porcelain, one pair of candy lips and your bubblegum tongue.
And here’s James Blunt’s Your Beautiful: I saw your face in a crowded place and I don't know what to do,'cause I'll never be with you.
Whimp. Get hard man and find me.Nick Cave writes love songs but says: “All love songs must contain duende …It must first embrace the potential for pain. The love song must resonate with the susurration of sorrow, the tintinnabulation of grief.”
Really, why? When did pain, sorrow and grief become intertwined with happiness, elation and long tanned legs? Not to mention duende (translation: an evil spirit), susurration and tintinnabulation. Note to Nick: too much time with head in dictionary, not enough time getting laid.
But perhaps it is because back in the 70s men were still largely in control. Men were giddy with their newfound drug-enabled self expression and eagerly bestowed emotional largess on we not-yet-equal women. Only then do you find lyrics which display any appreciation of women, a sense that we hold the magical formula to happiness and completion in a man:
James Taylor: I close my eyes at night,wondering where would I be without you in my life.Everything I did was just a bore.Everywhere I went it seems I'd been there beforeBut you brighten up for me all of my days with a love so sweet in so many waysI want to stop and thank you baby.
Oh honey it was no trouble, really.
Men didn’t really like us through the 80s and the 90s, because we confused them with our refusal to let them open doors for us, we went to work, we insisted they change nappies, we emasculated them into a corner. And so when they spoke of love it was with hostility, confusion and darkness. From Gang of Four’s Love like Anthrax, to Nirvana’s Moist Vagina, it just got harder for those teenage girls to curl up and dream of being anything other than a sex object or a provider of torturous demons.
Fortunately some of us have our memories. Of James Taylor, of Bread, of simple love and adoration 70s style. How sweet that is.

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