Monday, November 19, 2012

3 Songs That Poke Fun at Love

Dear Muse,

When a song mocks love, I wholeheartedly embrace it. Don't get me wrong; I don't really mind direct "Hey! I love you!" songs. But mockery love songs are doubly amusing. This type of tune is clearly love-inspired because it has "love" in the title, and/or is crooned from one person to another. However, the singer tries to mask this fact by pretending that they're not in love, or arguing that they're not in love, or explicitly criticizing love while they subtly celebrate it.

Who better to create such songs than Richard Rodgers, of Rodgers & Hart and Rodgers & Hammerstein? I can think of three off the bat that really amuse me, and I'll explain why.

Three R & H Songs That Mock The Idea of Love

1. "This Can't Be Love" (The Boys From Syracuse, 1963 New York Cast)

The first ditty springs from Rodgers & Hart's musical adaptation of Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors, taking the Renaissance play to gleeful, giddy emotional heights. Take a look at the refrain (sung by Stuart Damon and Julienne Marie):

This can't be love
Because I feel so well - 
No sobs, no sorrows, no sighs.
This can't be love,
I get no dizzy spell,
My head is not in the skies.
My heart does not stand still - 
Just hear it beat! 
This is too sweet 
To be love. 
This can't be love
Because I feel so well,
But still I love to look in your eyes.

Yyyyyeahhhhh....because that's what love is all about, right? Pain and suffering and delusion!! Love here is like a stereotyped affliction: sobs, sorrows, sighs, dizziness, head in the skies, heart standing still, etc. The idea that anyone could be in love and be happy about it is preposterous!!  

But then why would Damon and Marie love to look in each other's eyes? Why would they feel well while singing an obvious love song to each other? THERE'S A CONTRADICTION HERE!!!

2. "If I Loved You" (Carousel, 1945 Original Broadway Cast)

Although this song is a bit different because it's Rodgers & Hammerstein, the song's idea runs in a similar vein to that of "This Can't Be Love." Here are some of the lyrics (sung by John Raitt and Jan Clayton):

If I loved you,
Time and again I would try to say
All I'd want you to know.
If I loved you,
Words wouldn't come in an easy way,
Round in circles I'd go! 
Longin' to tell you,
But afraid and shy
I'd let my golden chances pass me by!
Soon you'd leave me,
Off you would go in the mist of day,
Never, never to know
How I loved you
If I loved you. 

Despite not having heard the entire musical (which I'm planning on), I can easily criticize this tune like I did "This Can't Be Love." According to this song, love naturally tongue-ties people and makes them go around in circles (verbally or otherwise). Another limiting sort of classification! There are lots of types of love in the world; you can't just classify love in general as physically and emotionally debilitating. 

Plus, the whole "if I loved you" thing cracks me up. The paradox here is that Raitt and Clayton's characters are arguing that they don't love each other, while singing to each other with intense feeling. Really, who would do that except people really enamored with each other?

(OK, maybe the cast who sings "What Is This Feeling?" from Wicked is an exception.)

 It's so obvious that they're in love. Why delay the obvious with an "if"song? The entire thing is a tease. I would go so far as to say it was ludicrous if I didn't adore it so much. I'll admit, it's a touching and powerful melody. 

3. "Love Never Went to College" (Too Many Girls, 1939 Broadway version)

I haven't heard this whole musical (Rodgers & Hart again) either, but this next song is the funniest of the three. That's because it jabs at Love as a person instead of as an idea. The refrain goes like this (sung by Mary Jane Walsh):

Love never went to college.
Ignorant boy, that.
But think of the joy that he starts.
His work requires no knowledge,
So he can do it
By using intuitive arts.
He just says, "You two kids,
Start falling in love.
I ain't got brains
But I reigns over all these parts."
Love never went to college,
Never had teaching,
And yet he keeps reaching our hearts!

Ohhhh....I see. Love's an idiot. That explains so many of the world's messed-up relationships: Love pairs the wrong people together because he has no knowledge whatsoever.

I guess this is ONE explanation for the Twilight series.

Source: via Ariel on Pinterest

So, is this song meant to praise Love? Or does it poke fun at a supernatural moron who fosters romance between two people, without rhyme or reason? Or both? What do you think, Muse?

I'll see whether I can't enclose audio links, either in this letter or elsewhere so that you can listen to the songs and get a feel for what I'm talking about. But if it doesn't work now, please bear in mind that I've always been "technologically-challenged," and I'll figure it out eventually.

                                                                                  Till next time (probably after Thanksgiving),

No comments:

Post a Comment