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  • Deborah Straszheim

This Thing Called Love


When you say, “I love you,” what do you mean?

If someone asked me that, I’d probably think, “What a ridiculous question. What do you mean, what do I mean? I mean ‘I love you.’”

But it’s not ridiculous at all. The answer could be very telling - and very different, depending on who you ask. It’s also not an easy question to answer; you have to really think about it.

Now try answering it succinctly, with no rambling, no excess words, in three minutes or less. That’s essentially what a love song requires.

No wonder it’s so hard to write one. Maybe that also explains why there are so many different kinds of love songs, and why there are so few, despite the many written, that stand out and get to you every time, no matter how many times you’ve heard them.

It’s been awhile since I’ve heard a country love song that really resonates with me. For some reason, the songs about romance these days seem to fall more into the “lust song” category; as in, “We just met, you’re so hot, let’s get lost down a dirt road.” Flashes in the pan.

I long for a song that really moves me. Something along the lines of...

“I Still Believe in You,” by Vince Gill (written by Gill and John Barlow Jarvis during a difficult time in Gill’s first marriage)

"Making Memories of Us,” by Keith Urban (written by Rodney Crowell for his wife)

"To Make You Feel My Love,” by Garth Brooks (written by Bob Dylan).

I could have picked others, but I chose these three because although they have different sounds and slightly different messages, they have something in common: They explain what they mean by “I love you” without actually using those words. The melodies are all simple; the lyrics, gentle and specific.

Gill sings, “For all the times I’ve hurt you, I apologize, I’m sorry it took so long to finally realize; give me the chance to prove, that nothing’s worth losing you.”

Urban sings, “I want to honor your mother, I want to learn from your pa; I want to steal your attention like a bad outlaw.”

Brooks sings, “When the rain is blowing in your face, and the whole world is on your case, I could offer you a warm embrace, to make you feel my love.”

One of my favorite love songs, “Lady,” by Kenny Rogers (written by Lionel Richie), uses “I love you” twice. But it’s the rest of the lyrics that explain how he feels, that give the song its power. Richie uses tender but direct words to express devotion: “Forever, let me wake to see you each and every morning,” and “in my eyes, I see no one else but you,” and “beside me is where I want you to be.”

Then he ends with, “Cause my love, there’s something I want you to know: You’re the love of my life. You’re my lady.”

That’s what he means.

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