I, like many people, enjoy sentimental tunes. Whether its Edith Piaf singing ‘La Vie En Rose‘ or The Ramones singing ‘Oh Oh I Love Her So‘, I dig all kinds of love songs. There’s one kind of love song, however, that I just don’t understand. I’m talking about the kind of love songs that essentially say, ‘your ugly, stupid and have zero potential, but hey, I love ya’. I keep coming across different variations of this type of song. Billie Holiday, in ‘My Man‘, sings about a guy who’s “not much on looks, he’s no hero” (read: he’s coward and a loser), and on top of that cheats on her. Oh yeah, he also beats her. Yet, she loves him. When he holds her in his arms the whole world is bright for that brief moment. All the rest of the time her life is miserable and he’s a lying, ugly, abusive, cheating coward.
Another song I’ve heard recently that follows this formula to comedic levels is Buck Owens’ ‘Ain’t It Amazin’, Gracie‘. The singer of the song has left his hometown and hometown girl Gracie to travel the world trying to make a living at singing. He sings that he has never been thrilled by a woman like he has by Gracie. Thrilled, huh? Right, okay. He then goes on to sing- and this is where it gets good- ‘She’s not the prettiest girl in the world, I know she’s not the smartest one too/ But she’s always there, and I know she cares and I know her little heart is true.’ So here is a guy who has been “thrilled” by his ugly, stupid hometown girl, yet has traveled all over the world meeting hot chicks. And we’re supposed to believe he hasn’t bagged any of them? So is he singing this song as a put down? ‘She’s ugly, stupid and will never make it in the world’? or, is he trying to avoid breaking Gracie’s heart by lying about how much action he gets on the road? It’s all so confusing.
I say this because love songs are supposed to be dramatic, romanticized takes on a person or relationship. What’s so romantic about telling the world the person you love is ugly and stupid and maybe abusive? And calling a spade a spade is all well and fine, but do they think these songs are actually going to make their stupid, ugly partners really happy?