Friday, July 3, 2009

Healthy Songs

In my last entry, I presented an Honourable Mention list of songs that were a little bit off, and yet were not messed up enough to make the Dysfunctional Top Ten list. In this entry, I will finally get a little more positive and attempt to present, for contrast, a few healthy songs.

If it's so easy to dip into the pool of top 40 hits and come up with a whole whack of songs depicting dysfunctional relationships, how hard can it be to come up with a decent list of songs depicting functional, healthy relationships?

Very hard. Part of the difficulty is that there are, let's face it, way more songs about unhappy relationships than the contrary. Then too, just because a song is about a happy relationship, does that automatically make it a healthy song? Or is it just as probable that it's a load of sap?

Take Honey by Bobby Goldsboro. If one takes the lyrics at face value, the relationship was a happy one before poor Honey kicked the bucket. The same could be said for Having My Baby by Paul Anka. Apparently this couple is delighted to be starting a family. The trouble is, both these songs stink to high heaven. Especially Honey. Here's a sampling of lyrics for your delectation: "She was always young at heart/Kinda dumb and and kinda smart, I loved her so." What can one say about that but, "Oh my God?" Words can never encompass the wretchedness. And then, "One day while I was not at home/When she was there and all alone/The angels came" (Source: Bobby Goldsboro lyrics - Honey @ OldieLyrics.com). Why bother waterboarding prisoners? Just play them Honey over and over again. They'll tell you anything.

And Having My Baby is little better. Check this out: "The need inside you/I see it showing/Whoa, the seed inside you/Baby, do you feel it growing?" (Source: Paul Anka Lyrics, You're Having My Baby Lyrics @ STLyrics.com). Help!

So those songs are definitely out of the running, as is anything else of excessive sappiness or outright badness. A couple of other possibilities I came up with were Danny's Song by Kenny Loggins and Hey There Delilah by Plain White T's. Danny's Song is a pleasant, easy-listening depiction of a fellow who's in love and eager to start a family with his beloved, but who has the decency not to brag about his seed growing in her. Here's the chorus:

And even though we ain't got money,
I'm so in love with you, honey,
And everything will bring a chain of love.
And in the morning, when I rise,
You bring a tear of joy to my eyes
And tell me everything is gonna be all right.
(Source: Loggins & Messina Lyrics - Danny's Song @ OldieLyrics.com)

That's nice, but it is veering dangerously in the direction of sappiness with the line about "a tear of joy." That's exaggerated. Maybe if you have a reunion with your beloved after a long separation, you'll cry tears of joy, but not if you see her every day. Can you imagine getting up every morning and crying tears of joy? Come on.

I also don't care for the line, "Think I'm gonna have a son." That strikes me as sexist. A loving father wouldn't care about the gender of his child. What if he has a daughter? Will he be able to hide his disappointment from her?

As for Hey There Delilah, it's a song about a musician who's a thousand miles away from his love, Delilah. He tells her:

Hey there Delilah
Don't you worry about the distance
I'm right there if you get lonely
Give this song another listen
Close your eyes
Listen to my voice, it's my disguise
I'm by your side
(Source: Plain White T's Lyrics - Hey There Delila @ PLyrics.com)

I find the song moving, but all the same, it depicts a long-distance relationship. It's easy to idealize someone when you're a thousand miles away from them. If these two were to get their wish and be able to live together, who knows if the relationship would survive? It has not yet been tested.

An interesting fact about Hey There Delilah is that the song was not even written about a real-life relationship. The woman in question, an athlete, was already spoken for, but that did not stop the song writer from turning his crush into a musical fantasy (Source: Hey There Delila - Wikipedia: Inspiration for song).

So if Danny's Song and Hey There Delilah don't really belong on my list of healthy-relationship songs, what does? Well, it's a very short list. In fact, it's a "list" of one.

Lovely Day

This song, by R&B singer Bill Withers, hit the charts in 1977 and has gotten plenty of airplay ever since (Source: Lovely Day (song) - Wikipedia). It has been covered several times, and was even used in a Gap ad. There's no sap here, and not even any detail about the couple's life together. All he has to say is that when he's not feeling well, for example that "the day that lies ahead of me/Seems impossible to face/And someone else instead of me/Always seems to know the way..."

Then I look at you
And the world's all right with me
Just one look at you
And I know it's gonna be
A lovely day
(Source: Bill Withers - Lovely Day Lyrics @ MetroLyrics.com)

And that's the way love is, really. It's not about pain. It's not about suffering for the sake of your love. It's not about being "strong enough" to put up with your partner's insanity. Love is supposed to make you happy, and when you're in a healthy, genuinely loving relationship, seeing your beloved really does make you feel better, in just the way Withers describes. Trust me, I know. After many years of dysfunctional relationships, I now know. Withers describes it better, more simply and more accurately, than anything Shakespeare ever wrote in his plays and sonnets, or anything that Cyrano de Bergerac ever called up to Roxanne in her balcony as he hid in the shadows below. (What a dysfunctional relationship that was!) There will always be a place in my heart for Lovely Day.

2 comments:

The Happy Painter said...

Thanks for outing "Having My Baby." It makes me nauseous and it is NOT morning sickness.

Vivian said...

What about Honey? NOTHING is worse than Honey!!

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