Among my current writing projects is one I’ve been mulling for several years: I am looking, not scientifically but purely anecdotally, into the ways in which the lyrics of pop songs of my youth (the 1960s and 1970s) influenced my own understanding of romance, love, sex, and relationships.
Allow me to summarize: It ain’t pretty.
I grew up thinking love was about holding hands, walking along the sand, laughing in the sun, always having fun, doing all those things without any strings to tie me down.
I didn’t understand that all of that was code for so many other, less lovely realities. There was so much sexism, narcissism, callousness, egotism, selfishness, and lack of character built into so many of the songs I loved, and sang along to, while growing up. But I had no idea. I thought the songs spoke the truth, and I could never understand why my experience never began to match up.
This is a huge topic for me, one that I have discussed with friends (including, not long ago, a lively gang on Facebook whose response encouraged me to actually pursue this project; thank you!) and others who share my feeling that the music we grew up with didn’t do us any favors in terms of understanding relationships.
So I’m throwing it out to you: which songs colored your understanding of romance and love? Did any of them get it right? Did any of them do you damage? And what wisdom might you offer to the younger you listening to those songs in your bedroom late at night, in the car on a summer evening, or dancing with your friends at a beer-soaked party?
I warn you, though: once you start looking closely at the lyrics of your beloved songs, you might not feel the same way about them ever again.