For centuries, love struck men searching for the words to tell a woman how they feel, have looked to the professionals – Keats, Frost, that Shakespeare fellow – to get the job done right. But nowadays most ladies would probably cringe a little if a guy stood outside their balcony and recited a sonnet. “How do I love thee, let me count the ways.” Are we going to be counting a long time? I’m already uncomfortable. But poetry is not dead, my friends, it’s just reincarnated – and you’re probably listening to it right now. Because it’s in fact alive and well in the lyrics of songs. And while it may be set to music (and perhaps synthesizer), the same rhyme, rhythm, story is beating beneath. Yes, Britney and Creed are today’s poets… Okay, so some are better than others… I remember in high school, I was having a slumber party for my birthday and seven of my girlfriends crowded around my open window to listen as a guy from my homeroom stood in my driveway and recited lyrics from “The Sundays.” It was pretty flattering. Yeah, so he turned out to be gay but that’s beside the point.
And think about the infamous scene of John Cusack hoisting the stereo above his head in “Say Anything,” letting the words of “In Your Eyes,” do the talking for him.
The medium may have changed a little but it’s still just a man relying on the words of an artist to say what he can’t quite say himself. And now it leaves us lucky ladies with a take-home prize. A customized collection of 20 songs worth of material to read into… which is always a risk. Let’s be honest – us women don’t need any more to read into. Hmmm… the chorus keeps saying, “I didn’t want to hurt you.” What does that mean? Wait, is he planning on hurting me? Is this an emotional forecast?! Am I reading too much into this… Did he just like the beat, is that why he put it on here? …Oh thank God, song six says, “You’re my one true soul desire.” Amp up the volume, strike the band! We’re clearly in love, people!!
Why do I bring this up? Because I am the proud new owner of 80 minutes of music on a disc with my name scrawled across it, courtesy of my handsome new suitor. A lovely blend of Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, Ray La Montagne, Etta James, Latin songs of which I have no idea what the words are saying but it makes me want to be slow-dancing in a living room somewhere with a good dimmer switch.
Song after song, carefully ordered for maximum flow, each chosen so as to not say too much too early but still swelling with romance, promise… enough to have me smiling in my car on the 405… not an easy thing to do… as I think about my DJ behind it…
Unfortunately, not all homemade soundtracks hit such high notes. My friend, Anna, received a cd a few months ago from a guy she was dating and she hated every song. It was stocked with such musical duds that she wasn’t even sure how to respond… but she said it was better than the time she got a mix cd a few years earlier from a boyfriend who recorded himself belting out power ballads. She said it was so wholly uncomfortable to listen to that she couldn’t even handle having it in her apartment. Just the sight of it was so awkward she had to throw it out in order to put both her and the poor CD player out of their misery.
And my other friend, who was going through a long-drawn out break up this year, made her ex a playlist of songs about coming to the end of the road in their relationship with such hits like “Slow Dancing in A Burning Room,” “We Just Disagree,” and the anthem of all break-ups everywhere, Adele’s “Someone Like You.”
Yes, nothing says, “I love you,” or “I don’t love you,” or even, “I’m not sure how I feel about you because we’re new and I’m still feeling it out but I like what I know so far,” like a fully loaded CD-R. When your words fail you, just look to your iTunes, they’ve got it under control. Every feeling in the world has a song about it and they can probably say it better than you – and put it to a catchy beat.
But seriously, though, what does that mean about, “I didn’t want to hurt you…” Can we talk about this?
And that’s my thirty sense.