Love is dead, they tell me. Well, they’re wrong. Love isn’t easy to find and it’s even harder to describe. On this Valentine’s occasion, I thought I’d connect some of the dots between love and music in my own life and leave you to ponder the rest.
When it comes to love I’m usually left wishing I had a spare bottle of courage for those situations that take an uncomfortable tumble. ‘Love Confusion’ by Ghostpoet marries the hypnotic vibes of A Tribe Called Quest with the witty lyricism of this articulate London rapper. From awkward, alcohol-induced encounters on the dancefloor to the makings of sweet memories, Ghostpoet’s cool confidence says it all: “I want love, but I just can’t face it/The kind that stops ya breathe, the heart races/The type of love that makes you give up everything”.
While Ghostpoet captures the awkwardness I sometimes feel in this game called love, Gorillaz’ ‘Hong Kong’ makes me imagine what it must be like to find true love – and then lose it. If I could draw you a picture I would, but think Hayao Miyazaki, Martina Topley Bird or Jamie Hewlett and you’re on the right lines. The delicacy and tenderness of this song are what makes it so beautiful. Damon Albarn’s vocals, backed by keys, strings and the graceful sound of guzheng player Jenny Zeng, lull me into vivid dreams of an exotic life somewhere beyond the shores of England.
“The radio station disappears/Music turned into thin air/The DJ was the last to leave/She had well conditioned hair, was beautiful, but nothing really was there…” he sings, before the vision of my love melts away into the pouring rain and neon bloom of a Hong Kong night. Although I’m describing something rather sombre, this song actual reflects the quiet honesty that I think, deep down, we all want from love.
But enough melancholy. Being in love is about showing that person you care, right? In ‘I’ll Try Something New’ by A Taste of Honey, Janice-Marie Johnson and Carlita Dorhan are singing about chasing the affections of men. This slice of 1980s soul epitomes the time when it was the height of cool to make a mixtape for a woman. It’s playful, it’s catchy and it’s the kind of song that makes me feel like exercising more gentlemanly conduct – because a lady deserves nothing less.
If you found my own musings on love and music intriguing, have a look at what others had to say in a community feature I organised for EastLondonLines.
I would also like to pay special tribute to Delores Williams for a heartfelt post about her first love.