Where would the world be without love? There certainly wouldn’t be as much music, because most of our singing and dancing is about this complex human emotion. I remember as a young person being besotted with Schubert’s Du Bist die Ruh – this beautiful song, with piano and voice rising higher and higher, as the singer tells his or her beloved that they are the only thing that will bring peace to the heart. At the same time I was also fascinated with Every Breath You Take by The Police, which is a song about love gone wrong. There is a relentless rhythm to the song underscoring the idea that the protagonist is not going to give up. In fact this is the song of a stalker – every move you make, I will be there watching and waiting and looking. Creepy but very effective. I am sure Schubert would have approved.
More recently Bruno Mars had a hit with Grenade where he complained that he would have done anything for his girl, but she didn’t feel the same. He would catch a grenade for her, throw his hand on a blade, even take a bullet through the brain – but she won’t do the same. I’m with the ex-girlfriend. What is the point of having a one-armed, three fingered, brain-damaged boyfriend? She was right to get out of that relationship as it obviously wasn’t healthy being around a self-harming, high-pitched pop singer.
Call me a cynic or a realist, but love itself is not healthy. You look at people who are in love and they are definitely in a hormonally heightened state, drugged with their own feelings of happiness. They go to enormous expense to arrange weddings, with string quartets playing Pachelbel’s Canon and the Mendelssohn’s Wedding March, and flowers die by the hundreds to adorn the reception tables.
Then the children arrive. This is one of nature’s best jokes. You and your loved one have basically been in a sort of witty Noel Coward musical. Sparkling dialogue, songs of love, excellent audience reviews, and after the show is over every night, you go out for delightful suppers at swank eateries, and then in the morning you sleep in and read the papers. Then for entirely self-centred reasons, you decide to add a cast member. After a delightful audition and nine months of rehearsals, this little actor arrives stage left and your play is shattered. Worse still, all those love songs you sang each other are tossed out to be replaced by an endless parade of saccharine ditties – from Dichterliebe to Baa Baa Black Sheep, from the Liebestod to Bob the Builder. You can take a shot for flu, but where oh where is the vaccine for love?