So Deep In Love


Sad songs they say so much. Yet some people wanna fill the world with silly love songs.

I was having this conversation with a friend recently. She was talking about the fact that her husband, in general, prefers break-up songs to love songs. His argument is that break-up songs often have more substance, more depth than love songs.

To be sure, there’s a lot of subjectiveness in that. Two people can disagree easily on what constitutes a “deep” song. And a song that really resonates for one person may seem completely superficial to the next. But it made me stop to think about how much merit his argument has.

And he’s right — there are a lot of superficial love songs out there. (“And whats wrong with that, I’d like to know.”) As I started working on counter-examples, though, I found, right or wrong, that what seemed to be the standard was a rootedness in reality. So many love songs are just variations of “you’re wonderful,” “you’re beautiful,” “I love you,” “always,” and “I want to hold/kiss/dance with/whatever you,” put as poetically as possible. And, to be sure, those things are worthwhile in and of themselves, but …

I don’t know. I guess maybe a lot of love songs sound like they come from the first month of a new relationship, not the tenth year. They’re flush with the excitement and emotion of the new, not rooted in a love that’s been tested and proven and maybe isn’t as flashy but is real.

In trying to come up with love songs with substance, my immediate go-to was one of my favorite artists, Lori McKenna, who is a phenomenally brilliant songwriter and, in my mind, the poet laureate of human emotion today. To be sure, she does a lot of good break-up songs. I mean, a lot of good break-up songs.

But she’s got some love songs that I would think qualify as well — one of my favorite songs, Witness to Your Life (lyrics); How Romantic Is That (lyrics); and Like No One Ever Hurt You At All (lyrics); among others.

Another one that came to mind this weekend that inspired me to go ahead and write this post was Fail by Kendall Payne (lyrics), which is very true, and speaks to something I think people have to understand in order to have a working relationship.

Somewhat along those lines is Everything by Alanis Morissette (lyrics), which occupies a similar emotional landscape. And is also the first mainstream song on the list; I had a harder time coming up with popular love songs that would qualify. (Arguably, Alanis has the ultimate deep love song with You Owe Me Nothing In Return [lyrics], but … wow … yeah.)

And as an example of the subjective part, since Sunday night I’ve had Heidi Newfield’s Johnny & June (lyrics) in my head, and would argue that it might qualify. Nothing terribly deep, but, to me, evocative enough to qualify as having substance, if substance borrowed from elsewhere.

Anyway, I could throw out more examples, but would rather open it up to discussion at this points.

Any thoughts on the hypothesis, regarding love songs versus break-up songs? Agree? Disagree?

And, either way, any favorite “substantial” love songs you would cite as counterexamples?

One Response

  1. Most of the “first blush” love songs are full of lies. Especially, “I will never hurt you.” For two people to never hurt each other they must never meet in the first place.

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