The Audio Essay: Remix and Creative-Nonfiction Approaches to the Podcast

I'm Not Going to Write You a Love Song by Molly Cohen

Full text transcription:

Introduction:

“You’re All I Need to Get By”-Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell

Me: I love love songs. Specifically, the perfect, true, pull on your heart-strings kind-of love songs. The, “wow, I can’t believe some one was able to make a song so perfect and complete” love songs.

When I think of songs that really, I mean really, encapsulate what I have experienced or imagine love to be like, Justin Bieber hits are not number 1 on my list. I think about The Four Tops, Marvin Gaye, Tami Terrell, and the Beatles. Through my search of great love songs and talking with my friends and family, we keep coming back to the same, reoccurring realization: they just don’t make love songs like they used to.

In this piece, I want explore this very thought. Through comparing newer and older songs, interviewing my parents, and conversing amongst a group of 20-something women, I hope to come closer to discovering how and why love songs have changed. I hope you’ll join me on this lovely adventure.

Act 1

Night and Day”-Frank Sinatra

Me: When I think of true love songs, I think of good ole Frank. Frank Sinatra.

In his song we just listened to, “Night and Day,” Frank so eloquently states: “Night and day, you are the one.” Recorded in the 60s by Fran but written by Cole Porter in the forties, the simple melody in the background and the way he sings those words—it’s almost as if he’s saying it matter-of-factly. Night and day, you’re the one. That’s it. Can you get much better than that?

What I think is so great about this song is that its message transcends generations. I’m not sure what exactly it meant in Frank Sinatra’s day, but I can guess that its meaning today is fairly similar: I’m serious about you. I don’t want to hook up with you late-night and booty-call you when we’re drunk. I want to hang out with you in the daytime. When the sun is shining and I can see you for who you really are.

Wow, I mean WOW.

Let’s juxtapose Frank’s song with one of the top “love” songs on ITunes this past month, seeing that I couldn’t think of a recent love song on my own. Rihanna, take it away…

“What’s My Name” Rihanna ft. Drake

The lyrics to this song are vapid. Let me tell you how much I love you by telling you you’re my type. Oh, and then asking you what my name is. What’s my name. What’s my name. What’s my name. The words describe an okay relationship and allude to sexual references. Is “Whats My Name” really what love songs have come down to?

“Something”-The Beatles

Act 2

Me: My parents have lived through a lot of love songs. Over fifty-years worth. I wanted to hear their opinions regarding the evolution of love songs.

I started by asking my parents about their favorite love songs.

Here’s my mom:

Mom: My favorite LOVE song is “You Bring Me Joy” by Anita Baker because it has very pretty lyrics and it’s a very up song. It’s about someone bringing joy into your life. You want someone to be in love with you who makes you happy.

Me: Here’s my dad.

Dad: I’d say probably one of my favorite love songs is by Leonne Russell.

Me: What is it?

Dad: It’s called “Song For You.” It’s a beautiful blend of melody and lyrics. It’s almost like poetry

Me: I listened to my parents favorite love songs and they were truly amazing.  They described how my parents felt about love. And, as you can guess, neither was written after the 1970s.

Then I asked them what they thought about love songs nowadays.

Here’s my mom again:

Mom: I don’t think they have the same staying power as the older songs. The older songs are still meaningful and people think about them today. Like, “The Way You Look Tonight.” That’s a really great song and even if if you hear it now it’s just…

Me:…and here’s my dad.

Dad: I don’t hear any love songs nowadays. I just hear rap music [Laughter] All I hear is stuff like, “Here’s to the douchebags.” Or, “Here’s to the jerkoffs.” Whatever that last song by Kanye West is. I heard that one. Have you heard that?

Me: Nope.

Dad: Oh my god, that’s a big hit now.

Me: Which one?

Dad: His brand new album.

 

Me: My parents shared my same feelings: they didn’t know of a recent love song. But I still wanted to know why love songs have changed. What is the driving force behind the creation of these horrible new love songs? I decided to enlist the help of my friends to talk about these questions. Our dinner table conversation is coming up next.

Act 3

Me: Here’s our conversation about the evolution of the love song.

[Conversation between 6 female roomates. Difficult to decode and it’s just meant to be a conversation heard, not written down. It would be mumbojumbo words wise.]

“Your Love Is My Drug”-Ke$ha

Me: As my friends and I discussed, love songs may be different because love is different. However, my friends and I couldn’t quite articulate why it’s so different and what different really means. We only recognized that love songs nowadays describe something different from what Frank Sinatra sang about.

This exploration has left me with more questions than answers. I’m still not sure why love songs have changed. Blaming it on women’s rights definitely doesn’t seem fair. And, pointing the finger at sex seems too simple.

Regardless of the reasons, new, popular love songs are less fulfilling then they used to be. They just don’t have that same magic. I hope that love still exists the way it did in Frank Sinatra’s day, but I can’t be sure. Let’s just hope KeSha’s definition of love isn’t as widespread as her songs on the radio.