Songs to Learn and Sing

So… today is another one of those examples of polarization that I keep talking about.

Ostensibly about love, do a quick internet search and you will be presented with at least as many posts about how Valentine’s Day suuuuucks as you will find links to the ‘perfect gift/thought/outing’ to plan for/with a special someone.

Flipping back through what I’ve written the past while, I can’t help but notice an extremely un-cole-like preponderance of negativity and cynicism overshadowing my thoughts and the words I’ve felt compelled to share here on the WordPress.  So while I could (and almost did) write something about how this ‘Hallmark holiday’ is nothing more than yet another example of the hyper-commercialism of society and one of the many things that keeps us distracted from stuff we need to be thinking about, I’ve decided that it’s past time to lighten the hell up a little, and view the day in light of ‘best intentions’ and the celebration of the many forms of love in this life to which we should be paying daily attention.

We humans are social animals and we gravitate to one another for a variety of reasons- whether biological, emotional, philosophical, intellectual or otherwise.  This basic commonality is reflected in our myths and music.  It pervades February 14th and has become associated with, strictly, couple-y love (in the high Middle Ages the day was about courtly love- which had little to do with things like love within the bonds of marriage and more with those rules of chivalry that Don Quixote tried so hard to re-introduce) rather than love of a more general and all-encompassing sort.

I think this emphasis represents a missed opportunity.

Here in Ontario we have a long weekend ahead of us (thank goodness!) with Monday being the ‘Family Day’ statutory holiday.  Arriving in tandem with all the pink/red flowers, hearts, candy and cutesy teddy bears, we can take the opportunity to stop for a little bit and focus on the existence of love- in all its manifestations- than can be experienced as we travel these roads together.

I let the Shuffle Daemon take the wheel (since it has been brilliantly returning absent friends to me lately) and find me some tunes that speak to this theme of love-in-general that we need to get working for us.

I wrote about this guy- and mentioned this song in passing- the other day.  I think it’s one of my favourite being-in-love songs ever.  Straightforward and real.

‘I could be discontent and chase the rainbow’s end
I might win much more but lose all that is mine
I could be a lot but I know I’m not
I’m content just with the riches that you bring
I might shoot to win and commit the sin
Of wanting more than I’ve already got
I could run away but I’d rather stay
In the warmth of your smile lighting up my day
(the one that makes me say, heh)

‘Cause you’re the best thing that ever happened to me or my world
You’re the best thing that ever happened – so don’t go away

I might be a king and steal my people’s things
But I don’t go for that power crazy way
All that I could rule but I don’t check for fools
All that I need is to be left to live my way
(say listen what I say)’

Little Stevie Winwood.  The hope/assertion of fact in this song is just so veryvery human.

‘Think about it, there must be higher love
Down in the heart or hidden in the stars above
Without it, life is wasted time
Look inside your heart, I’ll look inside mine
Things look so bad everywhere
In this whole world, what is fair?
We walk blind, we try to see
Falling behind in what could be’

Some people might interpret this song as being about the supernatural love of a deity somewhere.  Steve might even have meant it to be about that.  One of the great and beautiful things about music is its interpretability.  I think it’s about that human-to-human connection we all need.

‘Worlds are turning and we’re just hanging on
Facing our fear and standing out there alone
A yearning, and it’s real to me
There must be someone who’s feeling for me’

Interpret as you will.  I saw him at Maple Leaf Gardens when he toured this album.  Man, can that guy sing.

I love that movie.  And when Lulu sings the title song to Sidney Poitier/Mr. Thackery… my poor teacher’s heart overflows.  It’s a wonderful and innocent reminder of the impact that we make as we pass through the lives of others.

‘The time has come
For closing books; and long last looks must end
And as I leave,
I know that I am leaving my best friend
A friend who taught me right from wrong,
And weak from strong — that’s a lot to learn
What — what can I give you in return?
If you wanted the moon,
I would try to make a start… but I
Would rather you let me give my heart
To Sir, With Love’

I know, I know.  I write about these guys a lot.  How can you not?

It’s about family love and lessons and the reciprocity of both.

Although I could go on and on and on… Should dash and get my plans for the weekend started.  But there’s time for one final tune…

‘In a hand painted night, me and Gypsy Scotty are partners
At the Hotel Flamingo, wearing black market shoes
This loud Cuban band is crucifying John Lennon
No one wants to be lonely, no one wants to sing the blues

She’s perched like a parrot on his tuxedo shoulder
Christ, what she’s doing with him?  She could be
Dancing with me’

Ah, Mellencamp.  This tune just makes me smile all over.  It’s a buddy/road trip song about adventures shared and bumps in the road overcome (and Matthew McConaughey is in the video).  The line about the ‘Cuban band crucifying John Lennon’ is one of my favourite lyrics EVER.

Let’s all get some of that love thing made manifest this weekend- whether it’s in the company of that one special person, your family, friends, furry children, or sent across the wide world in representation of love for and pride in our home and native land- and those doing us proud at them there Olympic Games (I know, I said I wasn’t interested, and I have yet to watch any events/coverage, but between the medal count and the fact that our athletes/coaches/fans are making my proud Canadian heart sing… it’s hard to stay Grinch-y about it all).

Happy Valentine’s Day/Family Day/We-are-human-and-we-love.  It’s-what-we-do Day.

PS- I stole the title for the post from an Echo and Bunnymen Greatest Hits compilation.  The Shuffle Daemon didn’t see fit to add them to the mix, but I thank them for the inspiration, nonetheless.