Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's Bête Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Once a couple of years ago on the Co-op radio station in Vancouver, B.C., I heard one of the greatest radio bits ever: Some stoner-sounding DJ was playing any song he came across in which the words “I love you” figured prominently. The genres and styles and approaches jumped from pop to blues to soul to country to Tin Pan Alley; from fine-grained to rough-hewn to in-between; from elegantly clever to deliriously repetitive -- it was a gas to listen to.

Today when I heard Martina McBride’s song of that title -- and it’s a great one, with a great catchy lively chorus whose words grasp the physical excitement of love -- I thought of Cole Porter’s song of the same name, which is more arch and layered, alluding to the erotic Biblical poems attributed to Solomon, quoting Tin Pan Alley cliches, and wrapping it in a fetchingly elegant though difficult melody. Porter wrote the song on a dare, the challenge being to spin a worthy variation on this hoariest of sweet-nothingisms.

And it is a challenge. Ever since I read that I’ve wanted to write a song with that title. I haven’t yet.

* * * *

The internet is a funny thing. While googling “I love you” lyrics, Celine Dion came up near the top, which reminded me of a song from her monumental album Let’s Talk About Love, which I picked up for a buck out of curiosity because I knew Carl Wilson was writing a book about it, which should be out very soon. I hate and I love the song, which is what the song is about -- and what it’s called, “I Hate You Then I Love You.” It’s a duet with Pavarotti, and you really should check out the video -- a pop-Italianate
quasi-operatic tune, with Celine’s Streisand-esque Celine-isms and Pavarotti’s excessive and brilliant voice, singing these words that, were I to sing them, would severely challenge my ability to keep a straight face. The song is brilliantly, astoundingly kitschy. I don’t really hate it.

And here’s Martina’s flirty charming video of her “I Love You,” with scene-lets from that Julia Robertson / Richard Gere vehicle Runaway Bride, in which the song appeared.

And here’s Aretha’s “Baby I Love You.”

There are hundreds -- thousands? -- of these songs. Some people want to fill the world with silly love songs. What’s wrong with that?

* * * *

The internet is a funny thing. Last night I wanted to post some quick trifling riffs on the strange and amazing Ulysses Grant quote, “I am a verb.” One of the quotes that came to mind was, “I was born into chaos,” which I remembered seeing Mike Tyson say on a TV interview. I googled Tyson and the phrase to verify my memory. If it’s on the Web, Google hasn’t found it. I then idly googled the phrase, and found Wynonna Judd saying it, which I used.

Why didn’t I trust my memory? Technology has replaced it. Of course, that old process started with writing, right?

In my memory, Tyson said it poignantly, as though the chaos continued to eat him, and he quietly felt its pain and could do nothing about it -- he sounded resigned to its fate, but without self-pity or sighing.

Then I figured that Muhammad Ali must have said something about speed, so I googled Muhammad Ali quotes and found a line which I vaguely remembered having heard before, but never attributed to Ali.

“I am a verb” -- a human being doesn’t be, a human being happens -- we’re human happenings.

Oh, and one more thing. I love you. I honestly love you.

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