Monday, March 20, 2023

This Year: 1982a

"This Year" is a series of weekly posts, each about one song from one year of my life. See the introduction for more. 

1981 is a scratch, since I have two songs from 1982 that I can't choose between, and nothing from 1981 is even near that level. Next week's post will feature 1982b.

Can something be "our song" if only one of the two people thinks of it that way?

This isn't the song that played at my wedding for our first dance. I don't think it's as important to my wife as it is to me, though I know she likes it, that we played it a lot in the early days. I think she feels it as nostalgia at this point; it's still current to me. It will always be current. It's a song I knew before her, and maybe had as a model in my head before her.

But it's the song of my marriage. It always will be, in my head.

That song is Forever, by Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul, one of the purest, greatest love songs ever written, and one of the most criminally under-appreciated songs as well.

I want to leave it there, frankly. This is a love song that came out when I was thirteen. I heard it then, or very soon after. I loved the whole record, but Forever was a model: I wanted to feel like that, to believe like that, to love that purely.

But the song itself assumes the love and the connection, I notice listening to it now. It may even be taking place at a moment where the speaker has poured out his heart and there hasn't been an answer yet. It's not a song about us - it's a "I love you this much" song, poised at that moment of confession.

If I give you my heart, will you love me forever?

It's phrased as a conditional, but don't misunderstand: that heart is already gone, for good. Little Steven, in singing it, is asking if he made this huge leap of faith in vain, or if the woman he's singing to will reciprocate. The song doesn't have the answer. The song can't answer: this is what he says, all that he can say, everything he has to say.

If I can't have you, I don't want no one at all.

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