Monday, July 7, 2008

And Babies Make Four (Love, Part 4)

Love, the Metamorphosis IV: And Babies Make Four

The Water is Wide - Karla Bonoff (mp3)
In Dreams - John Waite (mp3)
Ordinary Girl - Rick Springfield (mp3)

I skipped right past the Honeymoon phase, because newlyweds aren't usually all that particular about love songs. All love songs are great to newlyweds. Even breakup songs make happy newlyweds smile, so trying to find three songs central to the happy newlywed experience was an exercise in futility. Hell, I even listened to Chicago's Greatest Hits -- the Peter Cetera edition -- repeatedly during this phase in my life. So that's not a time I look back on and think, Wow, I should share my favorite musical moments, love-wise!

"The Water is Wide" was our song. They played it at our wedding reception, and we danced cheek to cheek while our audience fought to stay awake. The song was so boring to everyone, apparently, that Jenni's dad barged in on us at the halfway point.

Like most everything, we overanalyzed the crap out of this song before picking it, especially that somewhat troubling second verse where love grows old and waxes cold. We basically agreed that, at least for us, that verse was a reminder that mere passion could never sustain a relationship, that a strong relationship required headier stuff. The passion might not be there every minute, every month, but we'd still have plenty of river yet to cross. All we had to know is we had a much better shot of making it across that river together.

Partly we loved the song because it had that old Irish angle to it, and it seemed relatively original (and by my father-in-law's reaction at the reception, I guess I know part of THAT reason). And it also wasn't completely syrup. Had a cute little duet that pops in when they have to row together. Besides, it was on the thirtysomething soundtrack, so it could do no wrong.

The other song we listened to a lot and that held onto its place in my heart years later is the John Waite song, "In Dreams." You may know good ol' John from his painfully repetitive hit "Missing You" or, if you were a Neal Schon fan (Journey guitarist), maybe you remember their joint work on Bad English ("When I See You Smile," anyone?).

Anyway, this was Waite's song on the very underrated soundtrack to True Romance, a very underrated but violent movie starring... well, lots of folks. Tarantino wrote the screenplay, and it's probably what sealed him the chance to make Pulp Fiction. If you like Pulp Fiction and haven't seen True Romance, I've just given you one tremendously enjoyable evening.

This song spoke of a man who'd seen some bad shizzle go down, yo, but he refused to give in. It was cheesy, but weathered. Smoked gouda, maybe. As long as that chick was at his side, he could continue to see bad shizzle and sing bad shizzle, and he'd make it through to the other end of the rainbow. That's my kind of cheese. (Although apparently I loves me some whiners, too. Whiners singing breakup songs will always have a leg up on other subjects.)

Finally, there's the song I consider the Greatest Love Song A Man Should Never Play for His Wife. It's the Backhanded Compliment Love Song, but I get verklempt almost every time I play this song. Yes, Rick Springfield makes his return to this blog because dammit, the guy writes some killer pop music no matter his stage of life or mullet style. Not only that, but playing backup on this song is none other than Stan Bush, without whom we'd never have one of the two most cringe-inducing singing performances in the acting world: Dirk Diggler (Mark Wahlberg) singing Bush's "You've Got the Touch" in Boogie Nights. Rick sings about being proud to be something short of extraordinary, in love with someone short of extraordinary.

The irony is, well, he's Rick Springfield, so WTF does he know about being ordinary? He's not Will Smith, but c'mon, he's not exactly a character from Our Town, either. But if Madonna can sing about prayer and Michael Jackson can sing convincingly about loving a woman, then I guess anybody can sing about anything and nail it once in a while.

I never published a book or got hired to write a column for The Washington Post or produced platinum records or cured cancer. I'm pretty damned ordinary, but I can love someone and raise a family with her and give these children an unspectacular but sincere and involved upbringing and aim to be something like an ordinary decent person. And maybe that's not only not so bad, maybe that's pretty damn good. Maybe that's better than we can really know. Or maybe we just keep telling ourselves that so we can sleep better in our ordinary houses under ordinary covers.

Works for me!  

All three songs are available on iTunes or's mp3 site.


jbradburn said...

True Romance also introduced us to James Galdofino. His character displays the ruthlessness, yet charming characteristics that the rest of the world would soon see in the Sopranos.

I've found that I can't really enjoy this when my wife is around - and I'm having a harder time enjoying stuff like this period. Much of the violence in this movie is totally gratuitious. I actually thought that Pulp Fiction and even Reservior Dogs seemed to limit the violence to situations necessary to the plot and in a somewhat more realistic fashion.

Bob said...

Peter Cetera? You've already shot almost all credibility with Dillow, and now Peter Cetera? John Waite? Rick Springfield? Flush this out of your system now before Derek Anderson finds our blog on a random search.

Billy said...

Being something of a closet horror film fan, I can't really say gratuitous violence bothers me much, but there's no question that films like this are off limits when my wife's around. As are films about war. Or fighting. Or even "indie" films with no gore.

Much like nudity and sex in films, I tend to think most violence could be avoided. I didn't have to see Bogey and Bacall shagging like minxes in a sweaty Paris hotel room to know those two did some seriously hot things to one another... but I also don't mind when movies show that stuff. How could Top Gun possibly be as good without some hot silhouetted tongue-on-tongue action!?

jbradburn said...

gratitous violence didn't use to bother me too much. Of course, seeing women beaten - even though I know it's just "acting" - always bothers me. (There is one notable exception - Shannon Stone in Casino.)

Still, nowadays, I have a hard time watching the violence that leaves nothing to the imagination and seems like a stretch from real life.

jennifer said...

I'm starting to think I have more in common with men, as far as interests go, than women...especially if it's ok for guys to like Peter Cetera and Bad English and such like, while still unabashedly enjoying violence in film.

But, the woman in me must comment on the meat of your post, which is lovely. There's as much beauty in the ordinary as there is in the extraordinary anyways...I admire that you see it and appreciate it!

Billy said...

Alas, Jen, I'm not sure it's OK for guys to like Peter Cetera and Bad English. I'm much more susceptible to a cheesy pop hook than most of my penis-clad cohorts.

But my Peter Cetera point was that I enjoyed his Chicago stuff even though I knew I shouldn't simply because I was all gooey and in the early stages of love and stuff. I haven't listened to anything by that man or that band in ages, nor am I seeking it out.

Bad English? I'd probably let their songs keep playing on the radio without changing the channel. If I listened to radio.

Hank said...

I think Penis-clad cohorts should be your fantasy football team name this year.