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