I’m exactly who Paul McCartney was talking about when he said “some people want to fill the world with silly love songs.”
I want to be Toulouse-Lautrec swinging from the ceilings of the Moulin Rouge reminding everyone to love and be loved.
I want to be Galway Kinnel walking amongst “the ten thousand things scratched in time with such knowledge” that the wages of dying is love.
I want to karaoke to “Lovefool.”
I want to carry a golf-sized umbrella through the rain, with enough space for me and the unprepared mothers with babies standing underneath store awnings or trees.
I want to recite Pablo Neruda and Regie Cabico with the knowledge of someone who knows words aren’t enough, but that these words are the best.
I want to tell everyone I love them by giving my time, by answering my phone, by just eating the goddamn heels of the loaf of bread instead of skipping over it. I want to pay for the hot chocolate AND the extra whipped cream. And I want songs that remind me of all this.
Driving home from work, I caught the tail end of a song I hadn’t heard in years, which prompted me to pull out my iPod and reminisce with music from five years ago playing in the background. My premature nostalgia is one of the marks of being a part of a generation constantly confronted with how precarious and ephemeral everything here is. The other is an ambition to feel and see it all because it’s not going to last forever.
I turned on Dashboard Confessional – “searching just like anyone, I could be anyone” – and fell down the rabbit hole with Taking Back Sunday, laughing at the fact that almost every song they had was a breakup song or a song about someone lying to them and breaking their heart. And then “This Photograph is Proof (I Know You Know)” shuffled on.
I remember the day I bought “Where You Want to Be.” My friend Kati and I had been dropped off at the mall to see a movie and we were wandering around before it started. We went into a now defunct CD store, whose name I can’t remember and who charged an outrageous amount for everything, and I saw the cover to this CD: a naked baby on a deserted road and thought it seemed like something I should own.
When I got home, I played it and “This Photograph is Proof” stood out to me. It wasn’t tinged with any of the dramatics of the other songs, it was honest and urgent. “I’ll wait ‘til you listen,” he sings, like someone with something important to say. Ending the verse with a sad: “And you’re noticing nothing again.” It’s written for an old band mate and an even older friend and it is their one, sincere love song.
“I know you know everything, I know you didn’t mean it,” he repeats in the chorus, ending the song with his voice see-sawing back and forth in a way that makes it sound like a lullaby. It’s an “I’m sorry” and an “I forgive you,” two alternative spellings of “I love you” and hearing it again made me so happy because it is Toulouse swinging from the ceiling, it is Paul McCartney going there again, it is Galway discovering the world through “Little Sleep’s-Head Sprouting Hair in the Moonlight.”
And it is so full of love, like we all are.