Monday, August 25, 2014

That Forever Kind of Love

Even thought this Johnny Cash-like number mentions grooms and brides, it will never be used as a wedding dance. How do we know? Its first lines are: "All of my friends who've gotten wed/ Seem to wish that they were dead." And, as they saying goes, it's all downhill from there.

"I'll lead a bachelor's life instead/ Unless I find/ That forever kind/ of love."

Divorce rates rose sharply in the late 1940s, then settled back down... but never to the almost-nil figures they had been. Still, the stigma on divorce-- societal, religious, etc.-- was still in force, and many unhappy marriages persisted.

"Take a happy bride and groom/ Look at them-- it's love in bloom," just like most of the pop songs of the day insisted it could, would... and should.

"But later, watch their dream go 'boom,'" Simon, as Landis, laments. "They didn't find/ That forever kind/ of love." [emphasis mine]

The chorus paints their average day: "He buries himself the paper/ She complains and nags and wails." For those of us who don't remember, "the paper" is what we called the newspaper, which was printed on actual paper and delivered stories of yesterday's events to our homes. So the more he ignores her, the more upset she gets, and the cycle escalates (it's a three-dimensional cycle, OK? Just... go read your paper.)

Our speaker is almost thoroughly disenchanted. After all, he has been sold in marital perfection since he was tucked in by Mother Goose and entertained by Walt Disney: "It seems like happy endings/ Are only in fairy tales."

Well, almost disenchanted. He still holds out hope that the "forever kind of love" exists, and that it will happen to him-- "I wouldn't mind/ That forever kind of love"-- and that the glow of early love will last: "Married and yet so starry-eyed... Forever groom and forever bride."

While there are many songs about wanting, finding, and getting love, there are far fewer about keeping it. And this one is about not keeping it. Again, yes, there are dozens of break-up songs, but the idea is that once you are married to the love of your life, you're finally done with all of that "Wishin', hopin', thinkin' and prayin'" and "tossin' and urnin'" that define the dating process.

But the speaker finds that even marriage is no guarantee of happiness and contentment! He surveys his married friends, and finds they have a whole new set of traumas and dramas to deal with.

"Why do fools fall in love?" then, as another song asks, answers itself. Why? Because they're fools! And "why must I be a teenager in love?" is also self-explained by the idea that we never stop being "teenagers" when it comes to love-- love make us teenagers all over again.

Our speaker is almost mature enough. He'll wait for the kind of love worth waiting for-- love with another person who wants to maintain that sense of wedding-day bliss. But soon after the wedding day-- actually, as soon as the ceremony is over-- we stop calling the couple "groom and bride" and pronounce them "husband and wife."

While it is wonderful to try to maintain that wedding-day bliss, it must also be understood that it is impossible to, under the stresses of daily life. Such high expectations cannot help but be dashed. The "forever kind of love," he will have to learn, is possible. It's just a different kind of love that the wedding-day kind-- not the same, as he thinks.

As a friend of mine puts it-- how many put all their planning into their wedding, which lasts just a day... and none into their marriage, which is supposed to last forever.

Next Song: The Growing Up Years

No comments:

Post a Comment