This week is inspired by the usual annual marketing blitz that is Valentines Day, and in particular this article about valentines day compilation albums. So, here are ten songs you are unlikely to hear on such a compilation: all of these songs are about love in one way or another, just maybe not the “conventional” view as the marketeers may have it.
As always, there were more than ten I originally considered, and the extras are below or on the shared Spotify playlist along with as many of the main ten as I could find. Feel free to add more to it, and if you could also leave a comment if you have done, that would be great.
Where The Wild Roses Grow
Possibly one of the most unlikely duets I’ve ever come across, which makes it all the more remarkable as to how elegant and brilliant that this ends up being. It appears at first listen to be a classic boy meets girl story, where boy gets besotted with girl, girl is wooed by boy, boy loves girl…and then he decides she is too beautiful, and she must die. So it’s not your average love song, even if it seems to be to start with. Daisy and I long-since decided that this will be the soundtrack to our first dance if we ever decide to get married. Hell, it’s no less inappropriate than others we’ve heard at weddings!
Let Me Put My Love Into You
Back In Black
Subtlety was never exactly this band’s calling card, was it? Less of a sweet love song than a late-night, drunken, slurring declaration of lust, it’s exactly what you’d expect from AC/DC at the peak of their powers. Oh, and it’s the only song on his list that made it into the PMRC’s “Filthy Fifteen”…
Wise Up! Sucker
This Is The Day…This Is The Hour…This Is This!
First off, the fact that this track is now twenty-one years old scares the shit out of me. Before grunge and then emo cornered navel gazing (and after eighties Goth, I guess), the Poppies recorded probably their first tilt at a much heavier direction with this track, a loser’s look at love where he never gets the girl unless he sorts his shit out.
I Think I’m In Love
Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space
Speaking of navel gazing, Jason Pierce remarkably manages to stretch an internal monologue into an extraordinary, sky-scraping eight-minutes of gospel call-and-response. It’s not made explicitly clear that it’s about the drugged mind, but certain lines certainly suggest it. But either way, it’s all about the call-and-response. He thinks he’s in love, but the response comes back that he’s probably just hungry. He’s not flying, he’s falling. In other words, he’s still hoping he’s in love, and that the drugs are helping to break the fall as he realises that he isn’t.
I Used To Fall In Love
How To Operate With A Blown Mind
The astounding, left-field centrepiece to an album that was already good enough, this stripped away the dirty beats and club sounds for a faux-soul ballad that Dave Randall’s vocals work with well. The piano-led melody (that if it wasn’t sampled from an old Motown song, is certainly an homage to something!) drives the song forward, while Dave Randall’s vocals bring to mind the imagery of not love, but the drunken haze of lust, broken promises, self-loathing, and more than anything a profound sense of loneliness. Perhaps the only time on this album that he really let his guard down, and the results were off the scale.
Talking of the darker, seedier side of love, I could hardly do a subject like this without mentioning Greg Dulli. Something of a legendary lothario in rock circles, his work with the ‘Whigs in particular dealt with what I guess you could call the side-effects of love – the darkness, the obsession, the betrayal, and of course the lust. And this track, probably their best known single, it seems to cover it all, an apologetic missive to a (now-ex?) lover where he asks for forgivenessnot just because of what he’s done, but because of what he is.
Base Level Erotica
No apologies here for behaviour. Instead, MDB’s romantic doom drips with lust and sexual abandon, with lyrics that are, to put it mildly, somewhat explicit. This album was a departure in many ways for MDB – it’s more electronic, almost industrial production, for a start – and wasn’t a popular album with the fans. However I still love it, and find it somewhat underappreciated, particularly for tracks like this, where the hints and suggestions of lust in other tracks simply explodes into life. (Note: the track on Spotify is the correct one, just mislabeled as the track titles are in the wrong order)
Another Love Song
The Closer You Get
By the time this song rolls around on their second album, it’s plainly clear that their contempt was for everything. So it’s bizarre, the heady rush of this track that at points is almost euphoric. The keyboards swirl around an urgent drum beat, and builds to a spectacular crescendo…but it’s all about the lyrics, what few of them there are: “Another love song / It is written / Still nothing said.” Somewhat clearly a jab at the vapidity of most so-called love songs, and instead they rely on the music to make this a song to hold close.
This Is Not A Love Song
This Is What You Want…This Is What You Get
Speaking of songs taking a jab, John Lydon’s sneer works perfectly here, as he addresses the idea of selling out. Hence, this is not a love song. Then again, could you ever imagine John Lydon recording, or more to the point, singing one? (By the way, can someone put me out of my misery and suggest where else that bassline has been used?).
Mistakes and Regrets
Where to finish but the kiss-off. And there are no good memories here. Just a catalogue of shame, hatred and regret coupled to, in my view, the finest music ‘the Trail of Dead ever composed, always on the verge of falling apart, but holding together in ways that few other bands could manage. But anyway, back to those lyrics, and the vocal delivery. Whoever is being sung about must really, really have fucked up.