“…and catching it in my mouth again.”
Like music, love can be manipulated by the powerful, but it also swells from the grassroots and plays a deep and integral part in the goodness and compassion of our communities. I have been reading all day about love under capitalism, used to sell people shit they don’t need and seized to motivate accumulation of (sexual) capital, but I can’t submit to such cynicism about love, since I’ve seen it and felt it as a groundswell. It’s the feeling which binds us together in the struggle – the feeling which takes empty space and fills it with joy. Like love, music gets under the skin, seeps into the daily ebbs and flows of life until it is one with them. Like music, love becomes inextricable from the memories of past life.
Years ago, music taught me to love. I took my cues from Reuben lyrics; I bound my lover up in the chords of Belle and Sebastian’s ‘My Wandering Days Are Over’, and to this day, that song sounds to me like snowy canalside walks and the ecstasy of first love. Music helped me to explain, assimilate, consolidate my feelings – the good (the pleasure, the lust, the amusement) and the bad (the jealousy, the anger, the disappointment).
Now I am swimming in new feelings, I have seized on new songs which will forever be imbued with a new love’s smile.
On the way to meet him, I listen to ‘Delilah’ by Florence + the Machine. It is expansive, soul-affirming, beautifully simple. “I’m gonna be free and I’m gonna be fine (holding on for your call)”. Falling in love has been overwrought to the point of cliché, but ‘Delilah’ manages to emancipate it (at least for me). “Strung up, strung out for your love.” When I worry that my feelings are trivial, ‘Delilah’ restores their significance. One moment in particular swells my chest with joy: 1:14 to 1:36. “Too fast for freedom, sometimes it all falls down. These chains never leave me. I keep dragging them around.” Florence pushing her vocal chords to their limit – the aural manifestation of love’s aching insistence.
On the way home, I bask in Mara Carlyle’s ‘Bowlface en Provence’. ‘Delilah’ is a scream of excitement where ‘Bowlface’ is a sigh of contentment after-the-fact, but like ‘Delilah’, it is all about the emotional stress of falling in love. Gentle, tinkling keyboards; softly strummed guitar, playing the sound of my rounded-out happiness. “My heart hurts… I’ve been loving so hard, I have hurt my heart.” A slow build-up; perfect delivery of the words. “My face aches. My ribs might break. I am killing myself, laughing myself to death.” The juxtaposition of the sweet and the morbid, the light-heartedness and suffering of new, fresh passion. “I feel nice, I feel right, I feel nice… I can hardly talk. I can barely sing. I’ve been screaming with joy – screaming; throwing your name again and again; throwing your name in the air and catching it in my mouth again.”
Grassroots love on Valentine’s Day comes for me in the form of these songs. Whether or not it works out, I’ll always have these tunes to remind me of a time when it could have.