Since time began music has concerned itself with the notion, idea and the emotions of love.
Thinking back upon my own life and love and the connections I made with music, I discovered that I too had concerned myself with music from an early age…..
The first memories I had were vinyl renditions of the fairy tales, complete with awesome sound effects – the imagination ran wild. I remember ‘The Sound of Music’ played over and over again. Elvis Presley’s ‘Blue Suede Shoes’, and of course ‘The Beatles’, my sister’s all time favourites. Certain parts of my life has song titles attached to very specific events. I remember an angst moment as a teen and the comforting lyrics of the Troggs, 45 rpm vinyl, ‘You can Cry if you want to’. In later years, an anniversary, finding a love note, pressing ‘play’ and listening to “I’ve got you under my skin’, by Grace Knight and Vince Jones.
Oh yes! then there was the time we moved to Johannesburg. I was a stay at home mum, who gymmed and studied by morn and did the ‘mummy thing’ from noon. The favourite song of that time, much to the horror of my two young girls, was Colour me Bad’s ‘I wanna sex you up”. Retrospectively, I think I was myself having some kind of revolution, in lifestyle, sexual, family roles, and of course the new physical space in which I found myself.
Then came the time the whole family decided to choose a theme song for the year! None other than Boyzone’s, ‘No Matter What’. As young parents, with a young family, carving out our niche in society, we obviously felt we needed to make a statement of who we were and what we stood for. What an awesome year!
“No matter what they tell us, no matter what they do, no matter what they teach us, what we believe is true.”
The chorus echoes the strength of our family at that time in the words,
“I can’t deny what I believe, I can’t be what I’m not, I know this love’s forever, that’s all that matters now, no matter what.”
Oh! the naivety of youth! what joy!
Of course intertwined throughout my musical meanderings were other family influences probably the biggest being my Dad. His quiet romantic nature and love of the crooners, Frank Sinatra, ‘ol blue eyes. I remember dancing around standing on his toes, to ‘New York New York’. His choice of classics like, ‘Tales from Vienna Woods’. I remember the scratchy sounds of the 75rpm vinyl on the record player and the high notes of the singer wafting through the house, and Dad standing there with watery eyes….. Talk about a softie! Later it was the Beatles ‘ob-la-di-ob-la da’ and Dad’s washing board dance and then again his soft side exposed as he sang along to the ‘Long and Winding Road’.
I think it is through him and the sharing of his love and passion for music that I grew up with a wide ranging appreciation for music. Thank you Dad!
Scratching around I found the awesome site of Robyn Frederick 2011. In his site, ‘Sound Experience – For Lovers of Love Songs’ http://www.soundexp.com/history-of-love-songs, he tells of ancient love songs going as far back as the 4000 to 1500BCE. Love songs seemed to have flourished in the Egyptian, Roman and Greek times but barely survived through the dark ages, where the writing and singing of love songs was supressed. Brought alive again by the Renaissance love songs blossomed and were sung in taverns – becoming bawdy and often sexual. Time marched on and the most common genre of the day became the ballad – songs of lost or unrequited love. e.g. ‘The First Time Ever I Saw your Face’ & ‘Black is the Colour of my True Love’s hair.’ Soon music became an accepted form of entertainment in the courts and love songs became merry and raucous. ‘Romance was on the rise’ and in France, the seat of romantic passion, were birthed some of the most beautiful & famous love songs. e.g. ‘Plaisir D’Armour’. In the 1900’s with the birth of the Romantic poets love music came into its own, with professional songwriters joining the fray. Music was flirtatious and fun and love songs like ‘Jeepers Creepers’ sold like hot cakes. Then in the 1930’s musicals were birthed and with them came love songs that were expressive and exposed the whole gambit of emotions that love exposed in humans. They spoke to the heart and are audible in the music of Cole Porter and Geroge and Ira Gershwin. Then came the big band era and the love song was redefined e.g. Duke Ellington’s, ‘The Wonder of You’. As the big bands faded the era of the love song vocalists began with big names like Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, and many others. Love songs became cool yet sizzling with sensuality and desire. It was the era of the crooners…
Love songs took off again in the 1960’s continuing prolifically until the 1990’s with a wide range of ‘love revolution’ love songs. There were protest songs which advocated make ‘love not war’. Dylan was a popular protest singer and poet. Love songs continued to be an eclectic mix and fusion of styles. Teen songs of this era reflected the confusing hormnal times with titles like ‘Will you still love me tomorrow’.
Love songs reached a fever pitch in the 70’s with the entry of disco and Fleetwood Mac. Then throughout the next 30 years love songs continued to flourish with the likes of Bowie, Prince, Eurythmics, Lionel Richie, Robert Palmer, Cyndi Lauper, Madonna, Bryan Adams, Eric Clapton and many others……..
The love song has continued to morph with the times and somehow the only one who seems to have lost touch with the love song, is me.
I wonder – am I out of love or just to busy with love to keep the music going?
Whatever the reason, this trip down my personal musical memory lane has shown me how enriching music is when it is a part of our lives……….then surely our love will be the richer for it too!
with thanks to R.Frederick (2011)