Post 213

If I Had $1000000: The Inspired Song of 1992

I like the fact that the English language has different kinds of articles. Specifically, I like the fact that it has “a” and “the.” Some languages don’t have articles like that. If you say “girl” in Latin, you might mean “a girl” or you might mean “the girl,” but your listener won’t know the difference.

In English, if I say I want “the pot,” you’ll know that I’m thinking of a certain pot. If I say I want “a pot,” you’ll know that it doesn’t matter which pot you give me.

And of course, if I leave off the article altogether, and just ask you to give me pot, then you’ll think I’m asking for marijuana.

However, there are cases where English has one word where I wish they had two separate words. The word “you” is an example. If I say, “Do you like asparagus?” you won’t know whether I am talking to you specifically, or to you plus all of those fans standing around admiring you.

That’s what happened to me at that airport. You’re a reader so you’ll remember that post. The security guy said, “You got any meat products or dairy?” and I didn’t know if he meant you plural or you singular.

Now I know you’re thinking that either way, the answer is, “No, sir! Of course not, I never eat!” but see I’m not like that.

So he thought I was being impertinent when I was just trying to be truthful.

Another word that the English language doesn’t have quite right is the word ‘love.’ We’ve only got the one word to describe all different kinds of love: spiritual, emotional/intellectual and physical. It gets so unclear. In particular, people will describe sexual interaction as being an expression of love, but this isn’t always the case.

It’s too bad. It means that you’ve got sleazy singers and rappers writing lyrics about “love,” but they are about as far from the real meaning of love as you could possibly be.

Sure, sometimes you can tell from the title that they mean the other kind of love, but sometimes you can’t. If a song is called I’m Gonna Give You Good Love, or I’m Gonna Love You Down, then I’ll say you’ve been forewarned.

Just for fun, here are the songs with “love” in the title, from the years 1990, 1991, 1992 and 1993. I’m going to leave out the songs with the word “lover.” (In the olden days, a lover was someone who courted another, but nowadays, the word refers only to a sexual relationship.)

1990: 14 songs

Roxette: It Must Have Been Love
Mariah Carey: Vision of Love
Billy Idol: Cradle of Love
Heart: All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You
Nelson: (Can’t Live Without Your) Love and Affection
Taylor Dayne: Love Will Lead You Back
Jane Child: Don’t Wanna Fall in Love
Linear: Sending All My Love
Tesla: Love Song
Bad English: Price of Love
Mariah Carey: Love Takes Time
B-52s: Love Shack
D-Mob With Cathy Dennis: C’mon and Get My Love
Paula Abdul: (It’s Just) The Way That You Love Me

1991: 11 songs

Stevie B: Because I Love You (The Postman Song)
Janet Jackson: Love Will Never Do (Without You)
Madonna: Justify My Love
Wilson Phillips: You’re In Love
Luther Vandross: Power Of Love (Love Power)
Michael Bolton: Love Is A Wonderful Thing
Michael Bolton: Time, Love And Tenderness
Heavy D. and The Boyz: Now That We Found Love
Mariah Carey: Love Takes Time
Keith Sweat: I’ll Give All My Love To You
Will To Power: I’m Not In Love

1992: 11 songs

En Vogue: My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It)
Color Me Badd: All 4 Love
Shanice: I Love Your Smile
Patty Smyth and Don Henley: Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough
Michael Bolton: When A Man Loves A Woman
Cure: Friday I’m In Love
Jade: I Wanna Love You
Mary J. Blige: Real Love
Amy Grant: That’s What Love Is For
CeCe Peniston: We Got A Love Thang
Bonnie Raitt: I Can’t Make You Love Me

1993: 15 songs

Whitney Houston: I Will Always Love You
UB40: Can’t Help Falling In Love
Shai: If I Ever Fall In Love
Robin S: Show Me Love
Vanessa Willlams and Brian Mcknight: Love Is
Meat Loaf: I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)
Toni Braxton: Another Sad Love Song
Mary J. Blige: Real Love
Jeremy Jordan: The Right Kind Of Love
Boy Krazy: That’s What Love Can Do
Kenny G: Forever In Love
Haddaway: What Is Love
Michael Bolton: To Love Somebody
Joey Lawrence: Nothin’ My Love Can’t Fix
Taylor Dayne: Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love

That’s a lot of songs. Some of the titles sound raunchy from the get-go, but some of them sound quite sweet, don’t they? That’s the problem. They sound sweet and you think, at first, that the lyrics will be about a wholesome and altruistic love. But no, that’s not what you find when you read the lyrics.

Here’s a sample, from the song called “Real Love:”

Real love / I’m searching for my real love / So I try my best to pray to God / To send me someone real / To caress me and to guide me / To know that I can feel / Now I know I can be faithful / I can be your arm in arm / I’ll give you good love in the summer time / Winter, spring and fall . . .

Okay then.

Another one bites the dust.

I chose that song somewhat randomly and that’s what I’ve got. I say “somewhat” because I’ve noticed that Mary J. Blige’s lyrics (written by others) are predictably low. Taylor Dane’s stuff is the same.

I think that the English language’s one-size-fits-all approach to the word “love” confuses the issue. Or to be more precise, I think that many people throw the word around to make their motives sound better than they are. Yes, deliberate confusion in matters of romance happens in every language, but I’ll bet it’s worse in English.

Perhaps that’s why so many songwriters write lyrics that are variations on “Is this love?”

In most cases, the answer is “no.” By this, I mean that when you listen to all their symptoms, you can diagnose the condition quite quickly. Honey, you got a bad case of infatuation, and buddy, you need to go play some tennis or something.

True love is not about everything that you are hoping or expecting to get from someone else. In that vein, there’s a real glut of songs out there where the singer says that he’d be a puddle of pop that’s lost its fizz without such-and-such a person. It goes something like this: “Without you, babe, I’d be a mess; I’d be in prison or at least Really Quite Stressed.” It’s supposed to sound romantic, but the singer sounds really pathetic.

It’s not supposed to be like that. The person in love is not supposed to be obsessed with you because you have A, B and C, or because you are like D, E, and F. Of course, those things may serve as a spark, but they aren’t the things that are going to sustain the flame over the long haul.

In the film Jerry Macguire, Tom Cruise said, “You complete me” and millions of women around the world sighed. It seemed so perfectly romantic.

But that’s not right at all. People aren’t puzzle pieces who are incomplete without their ‘better half.’

That’s not the ideal arrangement, and we have to be very careful about the extent to which we expect or hope for other human beings to fulfill us.

True love is characterized by its tendency to spill out, or to pour forth. When you love someone, you want what is best for them, whether it comes from you or from others. When you love someone, you want things to go well for them. You want them to find their missing wallet, you want them to succeed on their physics test and you want them to avoid that pot-hole. You want them to face the facts about their behaviour, you want them to go to confession and you want them to go directly to heaven when they die.

And in most cases, you want to give of yourself to bring happiness to the one that you love. You want them to have a nice meal, but you’re even happier if you’re the one who can provide it. You want them to read a good book, but you’re even happier if you were the one who helped them find it.

Of course, it’s not always possible to be there. In some cases, you love from a distance, hoping that they will continue to or begin to lead good and honourable lives.

When the approach towards romance is correct, then confusion and hurt is minimized. If a woman has an opportunity to evaluate whether the man wants what is best for her in all the realms of her life, then she’ll find a good man without suffering at the hands of the bad. And of course, the same applies to men. How can he know whether a woman cares for him as a person if they skip immediately to what is physical? If he acts on initial attraction, he deprives himself of the opportunity to observe and evaluate with a calmer mind.

You get my point.

And now you’ll see what I mean when I say that the song “If I Had a Million Dollars,” from 1992, hits the mark when it comes to love. The focus is on what he’d like to offer to his beloved.

In some ways, it’s a really transparent song — here’s a list of the things he would give his girl, if he only could. It’s not one of these Really Deep songs that are high on rhyme, rhythm and style but low on intellectual content, when you get right down to it. I’m thinking of Duran Duran, U2 and Depeche Mode.

So it is easy to understand but it is very well done, because they’ve captured a sense of earnestness and sincerity; it’s so fresh and joyful — and funny at the same time. But of course, the pathos is there too, to give the song extra complexity and depth: “If I had a million dollars, I’d buy your love . . .” he sings.

If I Had $1,000,000
(Lyrics: Steven Page and Ed Robertson)

If I had a million dollars
If I had a million dollars
I’d buy you a house
I would buy you a house

If I had a million dollars
If I had a million dollars
I’d buy you furniture for your house
Maybe a nice chesterfield or an ottoman

If I had a million dollars
If I had a million dollars
I’d buy you a K-Car
A nice Reliant automobile

If I had a million dollars
I’d buy your love

If I had a million dollars
I’d build a tree fort in our yard
If I had a million dollars
You could help; it wouldn’t be that hard

If I had a million dollars
Maybe we could put put a little tiny fridge in there somewhere

(We could just go up there and hang out. Like open the fridge and stuff, and there’d be foods laid out for us — little pre-wrapped sausages and things. Mmmmm! They have pre-wrapped sausages but they don’t have pre-wrapped bacon. Well can you blame them? Yeah!)

If I had a million dollars
If I had a million dollars
I’d buy you a fur coat
But not a real fur coat — that’s cruel

If I had a million dollars
If I had a million dollars
I’d buy you an exotic pet
Like a llama or an emu

If I had a million dollars
If I had a million dollars
I’d buy you John Merrick’s remains
All them crazy elephant bones

If I had a million dollars
I’d buy your love

If I had a million dollars
We wouldn’t have to walk to the store
If I had a million dollars
We’d take a limousine ’cause it costs more

If I had a million dollars
We wouldn’t have to eat Kraft Dinner.

(But we would eat Kraft Dinner. Of course we would — we’d just eat more. And buy really expensive ketchup with it. That’s right — all the fanciest Dijon ketchup. Mmmmmm.)

If I had a million dollars
If I had a million dollars
I’d buy you a green dress
But not a real green dress — that’s cruel

If I had a million dollars
If I had a million dollars
I’d buy you some art
A Picasso or a Garfunkel

If I had a million dollars
If I had a million dollars
I’d buy you a monkey
Haven’t you always wanted a monkey?

If I had a million dollars
I’d buy your love

If I had a million dollars
If I had a million dollars
If I had a million dollars
If I had a million dollars

I’d be rich.