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.
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 Amazon.com's mp3 site.