Friday, February 14, 2014

Love Is Like a Stove / Burns You When It’s Hot

I know I already squeaked in one Valentine’s post, just at the edge of midnight, but I want to clarify my stance on love. As my dumb little nostalgia-nerdy sex joke earlier today demonstrated, I don’t like Valentine’s Day. However, I’m not against love — the emotion this holiday strives for but can only produce the cheap, knock-off, CVS version of. And if today can be for anything, I think it should be for earnest representations of love.

Like me, many ’80s children probably know the song “Love Hurts,” as performed by the rock band Nazareth and as featured in an especially persistent Gatorade commercial. I’d honestly not thought of the song as much besides a Gatorade jingle, until yesterday, when Morning Becomes Eclectic interviewed Spike Jonez,  Karen O and Her production designer K.K. Barrett. The three were there to play “The Moon Song,” the Oscar-nominated song from Her, but while in the KCRW studio, they each named their favorite love song. Jonez picked Bob Dylan’s “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go,” While O picked Kitty Lester’s “Love Letters,” noting its beautifully warm melancholy. Only Barrett picked a song I didn’t know, however: a prior version of “Love Hurts,” performed by Emmylou Harris and Gram Parsons.

An analogy:

the way Valentine’s makes me feel : “real love” :: 
Nazareth’s “Love Hurts” : this version

It felt strange for a song that I’d heard so many times and found meaningless to be given a whole new spirit when sung in a quiet, wistful country style — sung like they understand what they’re saying. It moved me, and if you are like me and spending a quiet night in on this February 14, then perhaps it will move you too.

Until this version, I’ve never noticed how much of a Roy Orbison quality the song has. (And yes, he recorded a version as well.) I’ve also noticed one lyrical difference. Whereas Emmylou and Gram sing “Love is like a stove / Burns you when it’s hot,” Nazareth switches it to “Love is like a flame,” I’d guess to avoid having a rock bank singing about an object as quaint and ordinary as a stove. It’s an idiotic substitution, of course, because flames are always hot. That, I guess, is a good example of how the meaning can get drained out things.

Here’s to the back half of this month.

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