As a person who writes romance novels, I happen to love love songs. I think they’re great because they say in really simple terms really powerful emotions. The best love songs tell us a story, with a catchy refrain thrown in between. The best love songs make us feel those emotions.
The best love songs are best viewed as songs, not as an extension of the artist who penned the song. While it’s hard to separate the song from the song bird, we really should. Some of my favorite love songs are written by people who experience the highs and lows of love with great exuberance. And like most people, they experience these highs and lows with different people. It takes a while to find a love that lasts. And for some people it never happens. That’s life.
Yet, in this day in age of the spoof, there’s a certain meanness lobbed at artists who are more successful with love songs than they are with love. And while we can kid because we love, I have to admit, I don’t like the underlying message that the fact that you have loved and lost means you can’t write about the love.
One example is an oldie, but one of my faves that I heard on the radio the other day: Hey There, Delilah by the Plain White Ts. It’s a song about a guy in love with a girl named Delilah and he’s singing about all the plans he has for them as a couple. The song was written by one of the band members who was in love with a girl named Delilah. And it’s an awesome song. And it’s an awesome sentiment. And if it had worked in wooing her, it would be the awesomest love story ever. Only, as things were, nothing happened between the two of them. And as such, all these stalker parodies emerged, accusing the songwriter of being a creepy stalker. I admit, I laughed, but I feel bad, because I’m a romantic. And I love the idea of this guy putting his heart, his dreams (even if they were unrealistic) and his passions into this song all in the hopes of impressing Delilah. It’s romantic and fabulous, and if it didn’t work out, there’s no shame. Because some lady is going to be romantically impressed beyond belief.
While that one’s an oldie, Taylor Swift is more current. And for whatever reason (possibly jealousy, possibly because she seems lighthearted enough to laugh at herself), people say horrible things about her willingness to share the emotional ups and downs of love in her songs. I’m sure Taylor is a strong woman and is not so bothererd. But, I still find it a little sad that people find the notion of falling in love and having it not work out be something to jeer at. That you can only write about a great love if it lasts forever, seems to be unfair.
Now, as a romance novel writer, I get to make the romances end well. But in real life, we hit some toads, and we learn from those mistakes, and we’re better for it. This notion of deriding that learning process, of saying, you can only write that if it worked out, otherwise you’re just some type of drama queen, seems really wrong. It seems the antithesis of love.
I love love songs, and I’m happy to separate the artist from the song. I love when artists write about the heartbreak or the happiness. It doesn’t matter if it worked out in real life or not, because I hear everything I need in the song and I’m perfectly happy with that.