I remember thumbing through old soul and crooner records in college while talking to one of my best friends about each new one we found and how nobody seemed to appreciate sentimental music anymore. We found Dean Martin and Ella Fitzgerald, and our favorite, Nat King Cole, and brought them home. A few hours and thousand discussions later, I wanted to flip the records and hear them again, but he said, simply, “I can’t listen to this kind of music that long or I start believing in it.”
Is it dangerous to believe?
The music they are playing in this coffee shop right now is dangerous. You know what I mean when I say dangerous, right? I mean the kind that makes you start to fall for it, the kind that makes you nostalgic for an era that you never even lived in, the kind that makes you close your eyes to soak it up, and the kind takes a string section and pins them right in your chest, until you’re a mess of harmonies and emotions and you think you might possibly be close to love, even if it’s with the person next to you on the bus or the drink in your hand.
I think as modern music fans, we’re all familiar with good metaphor now. Our popular music is so played out and sexualized that hardly a lyric hits home anymore or seems to shock. Very little is genuine or just openly sappy. It’s simply no longer cool to be in love. There’s still love songs being written, but they’re hardly as on-the-nose and swoon-worthy as Frank Sinatra was. There’s women coo-ing to men, but very few have the raw emotion of Etta James. You can hear feats of affection, but who has come close to “like a song of love that clings to me, how the thought of you does things to me, never before has someone been more unforgettable” in so long?
And so I turn to old music. I turn to music that sounds best in smoky jazz clubs or on a dark New York street, as words whispered between a couple walking under a streetlamp, and I start to let the lyrics ring true. This dangerous belief that love can knock me off my feet runs true in my veins. The notion that I could be so wrapped up that I end up singin’ in the rain or dancing all night without a care is true, and it’s dangerous.
But I keep believing, dangerous or not. Better or worse, I’m old-fashioned. I’m a romantic. I’m hopeful and I’m confident that there’s such a thing as an attraction that gives you fever, misty goodbyes and that just maybe, you’re nobody til somebody loves you. I’m to the point of dramatic that maybe there’s stormy weather when my man and I ain’t together, and the very thought of you makes me forget to do those little ordinary things that everyone ought to do. I’m hook, line, and sinker for this music, but I hardly seem to be rushing toward a cure.
And so what more could I leave you with than potentially the most potent one of all? “La Vie En Rose” literally translates into “life in pink” or the idea of living life wearing rose-colored glasses and only seeing the beautiful warm things of this world, and it sinks in. My best friend Carolyn gave me this song on a mix CD in middle school and it changed my life. I warn you to NOT listen to this if you’re not looking to be sentimental or not wanting to get that butterfly feeling in your stomach that makes you happy to be alive and capable of love, whether you’re in a relationship or not, because once you’re open to it, once you’re seeing the bright and sweet parts of your life and believe you can share them, well, you’ll never go back. You’ll approach situations with passion and fervor and feelings and most of all, be open to love and believe that yes, it does exist.
And that just may be the most powerfully dangerous lovely thing of all.