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Episode 08 Can’t Stop Loving You

May 12, 2011

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Words and Music–Richard Allen
Produced by David Barratt at the Abattoir of Good Taste

Vocal and Guitar–William Thaumatrope
Ukulele and everything else–David Barratt.

NARRATIVE

If music be the food of love play on, sayeth the bard. Music of all kinds is ideally suited to the expression of love, for through music lyric can be perfectly married to tone. My favorite love song in popular music is the Beatles’ Michelle. I developed a deep almost mystical attachment to this song at the age of 6 or 7 when I first heard it on the radio. The mysticism was embedded in the French which sounded to my ears like an incantation, an invitation to plunge into the deep pool of love. You never want a song like this to end; you have to play it again and again.

Michelle, ma belle.
These are words that go together well, my Michelle.

Michelle, ma belle.
Sont les mots qui vont tres bien ensemble, tres bien ensemble.

I love you, I love you, I love you. That’s all I want to say.
Until I find a way, I will say the only words I know that you’ll understand.

Michelle, ma belle.
Sont les mots qui vont tres bien ensemble, tres bien ensemble.

I need you, I need you, I need you. I need to make you see,
oh, what you mean to me. Until I do I’m hoping you will know what I mean.
I love you.

I want you, I want you, I want you. I think you know by now.
I’ll get to you somehow. Until I do I’m telling you so you’ll understand.

Michelle, ma belle.
Sont les mots qui vont tres bien ensemble, tres bien ensemble.

I will say the only words I know, that you’ll understand, my Michelle.

As this song, and the Beatles lyrical love songs in general show, simplicity can be very effective in song. The chorus of my favorite Irish ballad, The Whistling Gypsy Rover, goes like this:

Ah-dee-doo-ah-dee-doo-dah-day
Ah-dee-doo-ah-dee-day-dee
He whistled and he sang ’til the green woods rang
And he won the heart of a lady.

Poets, on the other hand, are more elaborate in their conceits. Here is a small selection of some my favorite love poetry. The last is also a beautiful song.

John Donne: The Sun Rising

Busy old fool, unruly Sun,
Why dost thou thus,
Through windows, and through curtains, call on us?
Must to thy motions lovers’ seasons run?
Saucy pedantic wretch, go chide
Late school-boys and sour prentices,
Go tell court-huntsmen that the king will ride,
Call country ants to harvest offices ;
Love, all alike, no season knows nor clime,
Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time.

Thy beams so reverend, and strong
Why shouldst thou think?
I could eclipse and cloud them with a wink,
But that I would not lose her sight so long.
If her eyes have not blinded thine,
Look, and to-morrow late tell me,
Whether both th’ Indias of spice and mine
Be where thou left’st them, or lie here with me.
Ask for those kings whom thou saw’st yesterday,
And thou shalt hear, “All here in one bed lay.”

She’s all states, and all princes I ;
Nothing else is;
Princes do but play us; compared to this,
All honour’s mimic, all wealth alchemy.
Thou, Sun, art half as happy as we,
In that the world’s contracted thus;
Thine age asks ease, and since thy duties be
To warm the world, that’s done in warming us.
Shine here to us, and thou art everywhere;
This bed thy center is, these walls thy sphere.

Amir Khusrow: How Lovely your face

How lovely your face,
the envy of ancient idols.
Describe you as I might,
your beauty is lovelier yet.
Never is an image seen
finer than your visage.
Are you the sun?
The moon? I do not know.
A fairy? An Angel?
I do not know

I’ve wandered the horizons,
worshiped before icons.
Many a beauty have I seen,
but you are something different.
Your body is a cypress
in motion, peace
and comfort for my soul.
As you leave, don’t trail
your skirts and drag
this comfort in your wake.

You set out for the meadow
thinking to take in the view
and carry off my heart and soul
following the lover’s rule.
The whole world is your plunder,
people gaze at you in wonder.
Your eyes, enchanting narcissi,
practice the ways of blasphemy.

Khusrau is a begger, a stranger,
a wanderer in your city.
For God’s sake, take pity
and look upon us in our exile.

(Trans. Paul Losensky and Sunil Sharma in In The Bazaar of Love: The Selected Poetry of Amir Khusrow. London: Penguin Books, 2011)

Pablo Neruda Sonnet 17

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

(Trans. Stephen Tapscott in Love Sonnets. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1986)

Ben Johnson: To Celia

Drink to me only with thine eyes,
And I will pledge with mine;
Or leave a kiss within the cup
And I’ll not ask for wine.
The thirst that from the soul doth rise
Doth ask a drink divine;
But might I of Jove’s nectar sup,
I would not change for thine.

I sent thee late a rosy wreath,
Not so much honouring thee
As giving it a hope that there
It could not withered be;
But thou thereon didst only breathe,
And sent’st it back to me;
Since when it grows, and smells, I swear,
Not of itself but thee!

The most beautiful love poem ever written (that I have read!) is the 12th century Sanskrit classic, The Gitagovinda of Jayadeva, which tells of the love of Rhada for Krishna. It is a long poem of exquisite subtlety and aching beauty that cannot be reproduced here in part without violating the whole. You will just have to take my word for it or better still, read the poem for yourself.

LYRIC

When I am home and you’re not there
I want to define every moment
I want to define every moment
As time spent with you

Cause I shan’t stop loving you
I won’t stop loving you
I can’t stop loving you
When you are gone

When you are sad and missing me
I want to define every moment
I want to define every moment
As time spent with you

Cause I shan’t stop loving you
I won’t stop loving you
I can’t stop loving you
When you are gone

Maybe love lasts a lifetime
Of this I do not know
I live in the moment
Bathing in your glow
Bathing in your glow
Bathing in your glow

When you are here and in my arms
I want to define every moment
I want to define every moment
As time spent with you

Cause I shan’t stop loving you
I won’t stop loving you
I can’t stop loving you
Now you’re not gone
Now you’re not gone
Now you’re not gone

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From → Thaumatropemusic

2 Comments
  1. Geoff permalink

    Hi, re: the latest song. Musically a beautiful piece , I think, if right at the top of your vocal range. Vocals of great simplicity as you say in the commentary. It is maybe the best song you have written – it is
    saleable too. I could hear a soprano, clasically trained, singing this for a
    popular audience – Hayley Westenra, Katherine Jenkins …

    keep up the good work. Geoff

  2. Seung-hoon permalink

    Michelle, ma belle, sont let mots qui vont tres bien ensemble… c’est une sentence complete en fracais que j’ai entendu pour la premiere fois et qui m’a guide au francais et aux Beatles a la fois. resonante encore..

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