We all have them, songs that seem to touch a secret place in your soul – sometimes secret even from you. They can grow and occasionally fester like an open wound, or they can fill you up, inspire you and occasionally even heal you. Sometimes they don't even reflect your musical tastes. They can be shameful secrets that you keep from family and friends. You feel like a drug addict craving your next fix. At times like those you thank the powers that be for MP3 players – the syringe of those suffering with this affliction. This is a special two-part Valentine’s day instalment of Songs that Touch My Soul.
Valentine’s day probably originated with the 14th century English poet Geoffrey Chaucer (author of the very first work of fiction in English The Canterbury Tales) who romanticised in poetry the legend surrounding several early (Roman times) Christian martyrs, all named Valentine, to fit in with the Medieval court’s fashion for romantic love.
So romantic love is certainly the basis and the reason for Valentine’s day – well that and the card and chocolate industry need the yearly boost – but I can’t help but think that romantic love is only part of the story. So in this, edition of Songs that Touch My Soul we will celebrate ALL kinds of love and even heartbreak, because where one goes the other always follows. Just a warning, this may be more than just gently dirty, I frequently fall directly into smut.
“I’ve been watching your world from afar… To me you’re strange and you’re beautiful. You’d be so perfect with me but you just can’t see, you turn every head but don’t see me”. Stalker love is still a kind of love right? We’ve all been in the throes of obsessive love, think about your first crush, or that teenage worship of an actor or rock star. It’s not lasting love, it’s not really love at all, but it’s so excruciatingly exquisite; the pain, the desire bordering on lust, your first real tingles of sexuality. This song encapsulates all of that perfectly, summing it up with alarming and evocative lyrics and ethereal, haunting, carnal piano and synth music.
“Think Awhile” – Cary Brothers
Breaking-up is hard to do, even when you know it’s right. Cary Brothers seems to have had personal experience with the end of love. Here he so eloquently writes “I'm tired of hearin' everything you say/ It's rolling off your tongue across my face/ It seems the time to leave/ It seems we tried…” Haven’t we all been there? You don’t want to do the relationship anymore and now, staying isn’t any easier than leaving but still, it hurts. But you know that from this you’ll grow, move on, love again.
“Love Hurts” – Nazareth
What about broken-hearted love? Once you’ve been left bereft, alone and in pain, your heart ripped out, stomped on, but you still love them. Only Nazareth’s version of “Love Hurts” really manages to convey the heartrending intensity of a crushed spirit and burning love – and I’m not just saying that because they come from my Scottish hometown of Dunfermline. Dan McCafferty’s emotive vocals somehow seem to embody the acrimoniousness of being left, the deep-rooted fear that you brought this on yourself through some serious but unintentional sin. “Love hurts, love scars/ Love wounds, and marks…” Yeah but you get over it!
“Beautiful Freak” – Eels
This is what we all want isn’t it? Someone who can see through the facade we present to everyone else. Someone who loves the big ball of crazy we all are inside. Who not only loves our crazy, but adores us for our crazy bits but thinks they are as endearing as they are irritating. Someone who can just smile and shake their heads with bewildered love and joy when we cry at commercials, or panic over every little detail a thousand times, pack and re-pack our suitcases before we leave for an overnight trip, or get paranoid for no reason at all except our silly insecurities. “You’re such a beautiful freak/ I wish there were more just like you/ You’re not like all of the others/ And that is why I love you…”
“By Your Side” – Sade
“You think I'd leave your side baby? You know me better than that…” Of course you wouldn’t. Now you’ve found that one in a billion person who thinks your crazy bits are sexy no way you’re leaving, they’re stuck with you! Perfect romantic love, undying to the end of time, that’s the real fantasy. Yet it is one we all cling too, like drowning people to a life raft. Hope that true love really is out there is what keeps us celebrating a silly holiday, when we should be rejoicing in our love lives everyday. Remembering those little acts of romance everyday, that remind the person you love that you do indeed adore them everyday, and that you really are there for them when they need you. Sade, that Queen of cool jazzy soul music says it best in her breathy, sultry voice: “oh, when your cold/ I'll be there to hold you tight to me/ When your on the outside baby and you can't get in/ I will show you, your so much better than you know/ When your lost, when your alone and you can't get back again/ I will find you darling I'll bring you home…”
“Fuck You (I Want To)” – Get Set Go
Ok this one is pure lust. No love here, just sex. And what’s wrong with that? I think just sex gets a bad rap. I personally am a great proponent of just sex. Commitment scares the hell out of me! Strange thing about this little song is that it’s not particularly passionate, or lusty or even emotive. It’s an everyday regular pop song that sounds like The Beach Boys meets Blink 182. It’s the lyrics, and if you’re not paying attention to the song at first the lyrics are the hand under your chin yanking your head in their direction. “You look pretty cool, I think I wanna fuck you/ I do, I do, I do/ I wanna fuck you sore/ I wanna fuck you raw/ I wanna fuck you hard/ I wanna fuck all night long/ When you let me come inside/ It's like a little slice of suicide/ I wanna fuck you raw…” Let’s hear it for good old fashioned lust!