In this day and age, I find genuine kindness to be a very underrated personality trait. There, I said it.
We are becoming increasingly guarded, skeptical and cynical. When someone performs an act of kindness, we automatically look for a hidden agenda. Generosity is viewed with distrust. Being polite and giving compliments in a conversation is often mistaken for flirting. We never take anything at face value, we assume everything is said ironically.
This is fucking bullshit.
When did kindness become a dirty word? And why? Because a kind person is seen as being vulnerable, naïve or a dupe? While sass and sarcasm is supposedly cool and intelligent? Fuck that shit.
Ironic detachement is not a sign of someone being smart and savvy, it’s a sign of fear of being a sincere person.
I think this is why I enjoy schmaltzy love ballads so much. Oh, I’m perfectly aware that they are often insincere on the writer’s part, and cliché-ridden beyond belief, but their sentiments still speak idiomatically to the soul. Once you have fallen in love for the first time, and once you’ve had your heart broken for the first time, love songs speak a language you understand with every inch of your being. No matter how calloused and jaded we may be, or at least think we are, the heart yearns for sincerity, kindness and love. And those songs can bypass many of our mental barriers, and soothe our souls.
Most lyrics about love are fairly straightforward and simple, and that usually works the best, since love is straightforward and simple. You don’t kind of love someone. You do or you don’t. The complexities we associate with love are not about love itself, but disturbances that interrupt love, like jealousy, pride and power struggles. But love itself is simple, ’pure’, to use another word that is openly ridiculed these days.
That said, I do take great pleasure in songs where the writer really puts in an effort to be eloquent, and takes an intelligent approach to the subject matter. Some of the sweetest love songs I know are smart, some are even funny.
Frank Zappa once said; “There are more love songs than anything else. If songs could make you do something we’d all love one another.” This is true. Listening to love songs will not automatically make us more loving creatures, but hopefully they can remind us of the way we really want to feel, and at least for the brief few minutes the song lasts, we can surrender our insincerity and cynicism, and allow ourselves to experience genuine emotion.
XTC – The Mayor of Simpleton
Chaka Khan – Through the fire
Fountains of Wayne – I-95
Jethro Tull – Slow marching band
Don Henley – The heart of the matter
Jars of Clay – Safe to land
Billy Joel – And so it goes
Björk – Unravel
Marillion – No one can
Alannah Myles – Sonny say you will
Francis Dunnery – What’s he gonna say
Warren Zevon – Reconsider me
Tom T. Hall – Tulsa telephone book
Fish – Cliché
3 thoughts on “Love songs”
You are right, it’s hard to be kind, help people, complement people, etc. without them being suspicious of you. Once a staff member for the business next door asked me why I came over and repaired their computers, helped them with software issues whenever they asked, and that I never ask for anything in return. She just couldn’t figure out why I would help them with no strings attached. I told her because it’s the right thing to do.
I remember when I was 13 years old, I fell in love with a girl at school. The one song that really hit me at that time, and I’ve held dear since then, is “Thank You” by Led Zeppelin. That was 1972. I use to sit and listen to “Thank You” over and over while thinking about the girl I loved. I never really got the girl, but we’ve remained friends all these years. I had assembled a team of techs in 2009 to inventory IT hardware in a large school district in town. When the team inventoried the school my first love worked at, they told her they were working for me, and apparently she told them I was her first kiss — listening to my staff joyfully recounting my youth it brought back memories of days gone by and “Thank You”.
Music is love. Many years ago my wife’s younger brother was in love with a girl who he wasn’t doing very well in winning her over. He asked me to teach him a love song on the guitar. I had to think about what was easy and beautiful, so I decided the classical guitar piece “Romance” would fit the bill. I lent him a classical guitar, taught him how to play “Romance”, and made him practice for a few hours every day for several weeks. When he got where he could play it well, with some feeling, he played it for the young woman, and he won her heart. She was a beautiful young woman — unfortunately she turned out to be crazy — but music, the universal language of love, conquered.
You always have great stories to share, brother. ‘Thank you’, indeed. 😊
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“hanging in the background. Other stories, photos, songs, etc. will often bring old stories into the foreground. When people complain to me about something that happened to them, I tell them “You lived to tell about. Don’t complain about it, turn it into a great story!”