Is It Romantic?
If you’re reading this and you are not romantically involved with anyone, you are to be congratulated for once again making it through what is, for many single folks, the most obnoxious day on the calendar: the dreaded Valentine’s Day. It really is as if someone decided that those who were unhappy about their unattached state just weren’t quite unhappy enough. Oh sure, it’s all well and good for those who are blissfully coupled. Those fools adore Valentine’s Day. But meanwhile, a substantial section of the citizenry gets rudely snubbed without out so much as an acknowledgement that they exist. Little wonder that the mascot is a gregarious kid who shoots you in the heart. It’s a nasty, nasty holiday that should be banned for all time henceforth.
Invariably, for weeks leading up to the date, we are treated to recordings of allegedly romantic songs, many of which offer surprisingly terrible messages and some of which aren’t even remotely romantic. “I Will Always Love You,” for example, is a breakup song (its soaring, emotional melody notwithstanding). The parts of the lyric that don’t claim that “I will always love you” include sentiments like:
Bittersweet memories, that is all I'm taking with me. So goodbye. Please don't cry. We both know
I'm not what you, you need.
I hope life treats you kind and I hope you have all you’ve dreamed of. And I wish you joy and
happiness. But above all this, I wish you love.
The song is a Dear John letter. Who writes “I will always love you” and “I wish you love” other than someone who is dumping someone? Romantic? Hardly.
And what about that beautiful proclamation of everlasting love, “God Only Knows,” which for some inexplicable reason begins with these reassuring words?
I may not always love you. But long as there are stars above you, you never need to doubt it. I’ll make you so sure about it.
Here’s a tip: If you want to make someone sure about your undying love, don’t share the possibility that you may not always love them. It’s simply bad form.
The singer of “Come Rain or Come Shine” is committed to a lifelong romance. However, it may not be a very pleasant one.
Happy together, unhappy together, and won’t it be fine?
Well . . . I’m not so sure it will be fine to discover you’re unhappy together. Perhaps I'm alone in that view. I just don't find a love that could go either way all that romantic.
In another classic, “The Very Thought of You,” we discover that the result of this particular attraction is that the singer is “living in a kind of daydream” that causes him or her to “forget to do the simple ordinary things that everyone ought to do.” Well, that’s just irresponsible. What kinds of simple ordinary things are we talking about? Brushing one’s teeth? Changing one’s underwear? Showering? Taking nourishment? Reporting to work? Flossing? It all sounds fairly unhealthy to me.
But the worst, I think, are the songs that suggest that life without love is abnormal and meaningless. This idea that only coupled people are fulfilled, well-adjusted, or indeed, living lives that are worth living is elitist and just plain mean-spirited. It certainly doesn't deserve to be set to music.
For example, it is simply not true that “everybody loves somebody sometime” or that “everybody falls in love somehow” or that “everybody finds somebody sometime.” These are outright lies—lies that can only lead single people to wonder what’s wrong with them. “Love is a Many-Splendored Thing” states that “Love is nature’s way of giving a reason to be living.” Well, that’s fun. And what does nature give to the unattached? Apparently bupkis.
I’ve saved the worst offender for last, and this one speaks for itself.
You're nobody 'til somebody loves you You're nobody 'til somebody cares You may be king, you may possess the world and its gold But gold won't bring you happiness When you're growin' old The world still is the same, you'll never change it As sure as the stars shine above You're nobody 'til somebody loves you So find yourself somebody to love
This song has terrible manners. Even if one was to hold the ugly opinion that is herein contained, why bring it up? That’s just rude. I can tell you this: Whoever wrote these lyrics has a total of zero single friends.
Music, according to William Congreve, "hath charms to soothe the savage breast; to soften rocks, or bend the knotted oak." On Valentines Day, it also has the ability to annoy, insult, and cause concern for the mental state of certain lyricists. I for one am glad the whole event is over . . . at least for a year.