I was listening to my daughters singing along with some popular music last night. I knew it must be popular because they were singing along and I didn’t recognize it. In between songs, they talked about the nuances of genre. Folk, pop, rock, some combination. But what I noticed were the lyrics, which shared a theme. Though I couldn’t tell you what they said specifically, the words had that same aspirational, eternal, absolute conviction that good love songs thrive on. Now, my girls are on the imaginary side of that divide. They have had, depending on their age, their various crushes or hoped for attachments. But, unlike Dad, they have yet to experience that aching certainty that the person you are sitting across from in some restaurant or walking hand-in-hand with or driving home is the person you want to, need to, must be with for the rest of your life. After 35 years of marriage it would have been quite easy for me to descend into lecturing my daughters about how unrealistic the portrayal of love is in a three minute song on the radio. Really, you could live without that other person. After all, you were alive before you met them, right?
Then, I thought back to the time when I was in that place. When the longing and the wondering were actually realized in a magical young woman who said “Yes”, who said “I Do” and started that life together that seems much more than the two of us. While I know that it is true that a form of life would go on if one of us was no longer there, I also know that there would be a vast emptiness that would never be filled. That is how love should be. You give it all you’ve got, flaws and all, and something grows up and out and together until where one ends and the other begins is less and less discernible. And to tear that apart would indeed be tragic.
So, I suspect the love songs will just keep coming. As unique as each relationship, as familiar as that ‘tale as old as time’.
Just an old-fashioned love song,
playin’ on the radio,
and wrapped around the music,
is the sound of someone promising they’ll never go.
You swear you’ve heard it before,
as it slowly rambles on.
No need in bringing ‘em back,
‘cause they’re never really gone…
An Old-Fashioned Love Song
Performed by 3 Dog Night, lyrics by Paul Williams