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The Riot Act- Love, Love, Love, December 31, 2002
post Jan 17 2003, 04:07 PM
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So I'm sitting in Subway, eating a foot long cold cut trio on white, in case you were interested, and I'm as always fixated on the adult contemporary radio station they play there. As readers of Smark Talk's message board can attest to, most of my major music epiphanies take place at Subway, because it's the one place where I can disregard things like my impending military service and the stodgy, joyless life led by two people who are indirectly responsible for my existence as they face their own mortality. I can clear my head in Subway, in addition to eating fresh and getting the opportunity to look at pictures of Jared Fogle holding novelty oversized pants. It's a tremendous atmosphere and I wouldn't trade it for the world. So, anyway, I'm listening to this adult contemporary station and the programmer must have been feeling particularly daring because they segued from Jimmy Eat World's "The Middle" into Michael Bolton's boisterous interpretation of "When A Man Loves A Woman." My reaction was not unlike your's: "You can't do that! They're totally disparate styles of music with no common theme or sound to link them! What kind of fucking college radio amateur bullshit is this?" And then it hit me like the Mustang in my fabricated blind girl/lamb story on this very site's message board: These songs are the exact same thing! There's no difference. Well, there's a difference, but it's not as major as you might think. Like almost the whole of pop music, they're about love--in one case, conquering insecurity and ostracization to find love, amongst other things, and the other about a man's bullheaded insistence on applying all sorts of unrealistic accolades to the woman of his fancy. I get to thinking about the love of love in pop music and how love itself has had totally unrealistic accolades thrown its way. If you believe The Beatles, love is it. It's all you need; no money, no food, no oxygen, nothing. Just love. Love can conquer all and is capable of saving endangered owls and all sorts of other bullshit that only people on copious amounts of drugs who have been totally sheltered from the outside world could possibly believe. So I'm forced to conclude that you cannot fucking TRUST these people. Not just the Jimmy Eat Worlds and the Michael Boltons (and it's totally possible that you might never conquer those insecurities and the woman you love could slaughter a puppy with her bare hands), but the Beatles and everything on Motown and Elvis Costello and basically everything written about love by someone whose concept of it has been skewed by living a superstar lifestyle of privilege and excess. I mean, what the fuck is "All You Need Is Love" even about? Love stopping war? Love conquering insecurity, like those chubby fops in Jimmy Eat World sing about? It's not about anything. It's meaningless, irrational bullshit written by millionaire drug addicts. I say this from the perspective of someone who's decidedly out of love, but the only love songs approaching honesty are the negative ones. Songs like Costello's "I Want You," which portray it as a soul-sucking lost cause that haunts the narrator every second of his miserable life. That's the only love with the power to conquer anything: The type of love that drives you to imagine a current or former flame at it with another man. The type of love that makes you so sick with rage that you can't eat or sleep or jack off without feeling a raging empty pit opening in the center of your gut. That type of love is the purest, most honest form that's so often ignored by pop musicians in their quest to feed homeless owls. Fuck the owls. My dream is that in thirty years, when my grandchildren are ordering the cheapest thing on the menu at Subway, they'll be able to hear honest representations of life and love on the adult contemporary station that's invariably playing. They'll stuff their greasy gullets to the strains of gut-wrenching lovesick misery and think "So this is what granddad was fighting for? What a fucking stodgy, joyless tool."
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