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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day Warning: These Five Love Songs Are Not About Loving People

Posted By on Tue, Feb 14, 2012 at 3:00 AM


Rob Sheffield's book, Love Is a Mix Tape, meticulously details the many categories of the medium: The Party Tape; The Walking Tape; You Broke My Heart and Made Me Cry and Here Are Twenty or Thirty Songs About It. But there's not a thing in it about Valentine's Day mix tapes. You know, those mix tapes where a couple dozen scrupulously hand-picked love songs will not only articulate the creator's feelings of harmony and affection toward their significant other, but also make up for 364 days of failing to express these same sentiments.

The importance of the Valentine Day's mix tape can't be overstated. It's imperative that only genuine love songs be selected. In other words, love songs that are actually about people. Select any of the five tunes listed below, and your Valentine's Day may be a calamitous one.

The Beatles, "Got To Get You into My Life"

Paul McCartney composed his share of poignant, dewy-eyed ditties with the Beatles-- "Michelle," "And I Love Her," "I Will" -- and on the surface, "Got To Get You into My Life" appears to be another example. "Then I suddenly see you / Did I tell you I need you? / Every single day of my life." Truly heart-melting stuff, no? But listen a little closer and you'll catch the references to journeys down new roads and mind-opening experiences. Wait ... Is he singing about what we think he's singing about? You bet. McCartney confirmed as much in Barry Miles' 1997 book, Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now: "It's actually an ode to pot, like someone else might write an ode to chocolate or a good claret."

The Velvet Underground, "Sweet Jane"

Lou Reed's ruse isn't nearly as deceptive as McCartney's, since the Velvet Underground singer/songwriter was a bit of an authority on how to wrap odes to drug-taking in love-song paper ("Heroin"). Well, that and the fact that Reed brought new meaning to the term "pharmaceutically indebted." So of course, "Sweet Jane" is yet another paean to smack. Nonetheless, it's impossible to not get all flushed and tingly when catching Reed's lyrics, which oscillate between Robert Burns-inspired romanticism and greeting-card mush: "Heavenly wine and roses / Seems to whisper to her when he smiles."

Rod Stewart, "You're in My Heart (The Final Acclaim)"

Somewhere, right at this very moment, coitus is taking place to a Rod Stewart ballad. During his career, the British crooner has churned out one slushy love anthem after another, making him a bit of a romantic staple with couples. However, "You're in My Heart (The Final Acclaim)" isn't one of those anthems. When Stewart wrote it, he was girlfriend-less, and, in his words, "whoring around a bit." The lack of a female muse, plus the references to a pair of soccer clubs -- including his beloved Celtic -- brings one conclusion: Stewart was expressing his loyalty to his favorite sports team. Never underestimate the power of grown men in shorts kicking a ball up and down a muddy field.

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Ryan Foley


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