What is love has been from the beginning of time the question that all poets, philosophers, artists, novelist and scientists have tried to answer.
It is also the question that many of us have tried to answer whilst looking for love, being in the midst of a love affair or dealing with the fall out when love goes from being heart shaped to pear shaped.
And for every aspect of love their is a song that brings back memories – of good times and bad times. Have you noticed how even when a song brings back sad memories we still enjoy it and more importantly have you ever wondered why?
Clearly we have a deep need to share our deepest feelings with others, others who feel the same way as us and share their feelings in the songs that they sing.
Let’s take a look now at what four legendary musicians lyrics tell us about love.
Brian Wilson’s “god only knows”
Did you know that the greatest love single of all time is the Beach Boys “God Only Knows?”
Brian Wilson penned the lyrics which are an intriguing insight into how he perceived the state of being in love – the desperately romantic view that he wouldn’t want to go on living if he should lose the love of the object of his affection.
Obviously the millions of people who bought this single felt the same way!
Elvis Presley “the King”
Elvis Presley was one of the greatest singers of all time and often referred to as the King of rock and roll, he recorded his version of “you were always on my mind” two weeks after his separation from his wife Priscilla.
The theme of this love song is regret for not having appreciated or nurtured what he had until it was too late and is an all too familiar tale of taking someone’s love for granted, finally realising this only when they are gone.
This is not so much unrequited love but a love that died because it had not been given the attention it needed in order to grow. This quote from John Lennon sums it up nicely:
We’ve got this gift of love, but love is like a precious plant. You can’t just accept it and leave it in the cupboard or just think it’s going to get on by itself. You’ve got to keep watering it. You’ve got to really look after it and nurture it.
John Lennon wrote “woman” an update of “Girl” as a tribute to Yoko Ono. This song is in the same vein as Elvis’s “you were always on my mind” except that the recognition of and apology for causing the person they loved pain was in this case not too late to redeem himself or save the marriage.
The Righteous Brothers
There can’t be anyone in the world who does not know”unchained melody” or has heard of The Righteous Brothers.
But what does it mean. Well it was actually written for a film called “Unchained” in 1955 which in turn was based on the non-fiction book “Prisoners are People” by Kenyon J. Scudder.
The film is about a guy that has two options, to serve out his term in prison or escape so that he can be reunited with his wife and children.
It’s difficult to imagine what that kind of dilemma is like unless of course you have been in prison and in love at the same time. However the concept of two lovers facing a forced separation whatever the reason is something we can all relate to even if the separation was just for a couple of days or a week on a business trip.
Is there a Common Thread?
What do the lyrics of these four songs tell us and do they help us to define love?
Fear of losing love and lost love is at the core of each of these songs so love is obviously something we value above all else. We can easily relate to the feelings expressed in the songs through our own similar fears but they don’t really explain what love is but instead focus on how love feels.
How love feels is maybe all we can expect to know about love because love ultimately comes from the heart not the brain.
Love – a wildly misunderstood although highly desirable malfunction of the heart which weakens the brain, causes eyes to sparkle, cheeks to glow, blood pressure to rise and the lips to pucker.~Unknown