A completely seminal work. The first love song I wrote, for the first girlfriend I had. I remember us sitting on her bed and me playing her the song in person through headphones, unironically proud of the song, eager to hear her bowledoverwithemotion response. A response which I’m actually pretty sure I got. From that moment on I knew that in writing songs for other people I could make them far happier than with any other gift, and I could legitimately show off at the same time. A goldmine of non-selfless good deeds.
Maybe I would still write lyrics like this if I didn’t get the creeping feeling that I can no longer sing the word ‘love’ without it coming across as insincere, like ‘I cliché you’, or I ‘what everyone else says’ you (just typing the word right now I accidentally wrote ‘kive’ instead, as if my fingers were embarrassed). Unless I’m talking about the lack of feeling, or love as an abstract concept, in which case it’s somehow ok.
Which gives me a thought about love songs in general. There’s something about the recorded, permanent element of a love song that causes it to colour differently over time, as relationships are broken and succeeded by new ones. Even if I did still love the person this song was written about, would I feel it in the same way? Would the youngness of my voice remind me of a different feeling I used to have which is no longer part of me? When I hear this song, it suggests to me more than anything else that the memories I have of this relationship were experienced by two different people to whom we are today, in contrast to the lyrics, which are all about permanence – feelings remaining exactly the same. Even as a listener, does the sound of my voice influence the impact of the lyrics? I imagine it might seem like a song about naivety, rather than true love.
I’ll just mention that at the time, she and I completely seriously discussed marriage. This song was meant to come across as extremely genuine.
Which makes the opening lines: ‘It’s not what it looks like’ very amusing. Sure, they are eventually resolved with the follow-up: ‘I’m just in love’, but still – What does it look like? Later on in the second verse we get: ‘I can’t seem to get things right’, and right at the end: ‘I don’t want to go’. I appear to be wracked with guilt. Maybe in the back of my mind there were already the glimmers of contempt-for-unproblematic-love-song lightbulbs.
No such glimmers for the bass solo though, which is a prominent and quite funny feature of the song. Nor for the classic messy ending chord change that may end up being a motif for more than half of my music.
NB – Big respect for the drumming in this song, which in marked contrast to pretty much every song that comes before it, is restrained and relatively in time.