December 15, 2016

Excerpt from the final chapter of Polyamorous Love Song


[People often ask me about the title of my book Polyamorous Love Song. The following is a short excerpt from the final chapter in which I explain it:]

Around that time I was thinking a great deal about pop music. I had the idea that most already existing love songs, mainstream or otherwise, were directed towards one person, the ultimate soulmate or new excitement, and maybe a polyamorous love song, a love song directed towards a few (or many) soulmates, might undermine some basic songwriting assumptions. I dreamed of these not-yet-existing love songs, wondering what they would actually sound like, who might write them and who might listen.

Pop music is the gasoline of monogamy. Love songs are propaganda for monogamy. Writing is another form of loneliness. These are all statements that feel relatively true, that feel true in their gestures of empty, highly personal, provocation. Statements whose truth-value is little more than an opening for debate. Songwriting is a strange kind of writing. I remember something I once heard Darren Hayman (from the band Hefner) say in an interview, that people often complimented him on his lyrics, and he was flattered by this, but he had always been more interested in writing tunes. Because a song could have bad lyrics and a great melody and still be a good song. But if a song had great lyrics and a terrible melody, the entire endeavour was kind of doomed. How would we experience love if pop culture did not exist?


Love songs attempt to describe how we feel when we’re in love. But as they’re describing, they are also telling us how we should feel, creating norms we can compare to our own experiences, giving us language that helps us describe a realm of emotion that in some sense is always beyond language. Many of these songs are written in about five minutes and yet we can listen to them over and over again for years. Love songs are about desire, but they are also, often, about loyalty. In some ways romantic love is the passage from desire towards loyalty. But maybe the polyamorous love songs that I dream might some day exist will complicate such dualities, generating nuances closer to our daily reality in which, if we are open to life, conflicting thoughts, questions and desires continuously surprise us.


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