What is love? I dunno. You think the entirety of music-dom would have figured it out by now. Just one song called "Love: Here's What You Do." But the answer remains elusive, for rock and pop stars, and for Joe Q. Listener. Now, it's not like the music business would purposefully withhold the answer to that age-old question just to sell records to the desperate lovelorn, right? Someone has to know. But an answer rarely lies within the wax grooves of a record, or the 1s and 0s of an mp3.
For example, when Haddaway asked "What Is Love?" he didn't follow it up with a clear, concise answer, but instead a lineage of all the things his baby did, and saying not to hurt him, don't hurt him, no more. Head bobbing ensued. I was looking for answers there, buddy. Conversely, when Lou Gramm of Foreigner said "I Want To Know What Love Is," it seemed that the hair or the backing choir would help him solve the riddle by the end of the song. But no, he faded into obscurity without that chick ever showing him what love was. No followup single that went "you wanna know what love isssss, well I'm gonna tell youuuuu."
By now you all have put to bed another Sweetest Day (or Sell Cards Day, depending on your cynicism levels). In a few dark, dank, cold months you will haul out those stale teddy bears and balloons once more. But does anyone really think about what love is? It seems that having the power of long hair, leather pants, guitars (or keytars), pumping dance beats, wind machines and a catchy hook would make clear what love may or may not be.
My Led Zeppelin-obsessed parents provided me a wealth of songs about love. Robert Plant seemed to know a lot about it. He had a whole lotta it, after all. He also had a whole lotta women. Lovin' made him lose his worried mind, and he straight up tells chicks that babe, he's a-gonna leave you. Maybe he's a bad example. What about the Beatles? They said love was all we needed. But why? And where do we get some? The Love Store?
The '90s didn't help much either. I'm not taking love advice from a 14-year-old pop tart who loves her boyfriend and Ring Pops equally. Grunge occasionally had semi-mushy songs, but I don't want love you can only replicate with massive drug use and unwashed-hair fumes. During that period, as I was forming my own love definitions, I was too busy jumping around to noisy industrial music, which only made love seem confusing - and pointy.
That may be why I am still so confused. Why, just yesterday, I found myself crying while listening to a song that, while very beautiful, included the words "I can't dance the funky chicken." My love song listenage has evolved, for sure. I went through my Smiths phase, though Morrissey seems like he's singing about himself most of the time. I delved into the unrequited singer-songwriter phase, where the guy and his guitar love much more in their own heads than they ever did with a real a girl. Indie rock believes in love, but at times seems more like an American Apparel commercial than real emotions.
So are there any love songs that provide answers? Foo Fighters' "Everlong" is a great example of a love song, simple and powerful. My mom always points out that Metallica's "Nothing Else Matters" is a beautiful moment stuck between songs about Cthulhu. My friends in local bands have written some beautiful love songs, made even more special because I know what and who they're about. So is love a battlefield? A losing game? A rose? A many splendored thing? Who knows, but it will probably tear us apart.