Wednesday, May 29, 2013

"Love Train": O' Jays vs. Wolfmother

Dear Muse,

Over a month ago, I gave my friend Band3 an advance mix CD for his birthday (since I couldn't be there for his actual birthday two weeks later). Band3 liked it so much that he responded several weeks later with a music mix of his own. If this becomes a back-and-forth pattern where each person periodically sends the other a music mix, I'm going to have to do some serious digging through Youtube and iTunes. (Or my town's CD stores. If we still have those.)

Anyway, because of his mix I learned about the short-lived hard rock Australian band, Wolfmother. Although I've added their hit "Joker & the Thief" to my ipod playlist, I take issue with another of their songs: "Love Train."

At first I thought, "didn't that play during one of J.D.'s fantasies in Scrubs?" Then I realized that the song I was thinking of was the other "Love Train," sung by the O' Jays in 1973. Now that I'm fully aware there are two "Love Trains," I can't help but compare them.

So, after watching, which do I think is better? The O' Jays, of course.

To be fair, each one could be satisfying to different people. The Wolfmother version just doesn't satisfy me because it's basically hard rock without any real sense to it. I don't have anything against hard rock in general, and granted, most of Wolfmother's songs don't make sense, but as long as the tune or guitar riffs are catchy I give them a pass. Wolfmother's "Love Train" isn't catchy, however; it's unpleasantly ear-splitting.

Despite this, the lyrics might save the song if there were any subtle or deep meaning to them. But what's the main gist of Wolfmother's "Love Train"?

What'd you see, girl on the love train?
I said different luck is with no name
You're tellin' me all things are the same
I said, I gotta get back, girl on the love train

I saw different faces and different places
I gotta get back, girl on the love train, oh

(Full lyrics can be found here.)

The song basically repeats these same lyrics throughout. Profound? No.

The O' Jays song, on the other hand, is more interesting because its lyrics encourage global unity - both by mentioning countries like England, Russia, Israel and Egypt, and by voicing a simple call for acceptance and love:

People all over the world (all the world, now)
Join hands (love ride)
Start a love train (love ride), love train
The next stop that we make will be soon
Tell all the folks in Russia, and China, too
Don't you know that it's time to get on board
And let this train keep on riding, riding on through

(Full lyrics found here.)

The lyrics about riding through different countries and connecting international peoples through joined hands and a collaborative "love train" fits beautifully with its music video - which is about children holding hands and smiling groups of different ages laughing and celebrating togetherness. (The only flub seems to be how non-diverse the groups of people are. Ostensibly, the video only features African-Americans - but if it's about global unity, shouldn't there be more diversity?) In any case, there's a clear sense of love and joy in the O' Jays' version, while there doesn't seem to be a clear sense of anything in Wolfmother's version. The O' Jays win this round.

Tomorrow I'll make a harsher criticism of another music video from Band3's playlist: Evanescence's "My Immortal."

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