Think Outside the Boom Box: What’s love got to do with it?

Music columnist Patrick McKenna on love’s importance in music

I’m in love. I am absolutely, positively, undeniably in love.

The person who won my heart? It’s not a person; it’s music.

Music is something so relatable, so continuously present in our lives. Music is something that finds its way into a conversation, thought or dream so naturally, it’s as if it were meant to find us. Sound a little like what you tell your girlfriend?

No matter how you look at it, the music you healthily enjoy and unhealthily obsess over always has love’s touch present. The words, the symbolic meaning, the inspiration: It all can be traced back to love.

Try “Border Song” by Elton John. With a ballad that sings of equality for all, John pierces my heart every time he belts out, “He’s my brother / Let us live in peace.”

How about some Al Green? I want to say it’s a scientifically proven fact that his songs lead to some sweet, sexy lovin’.

Even something as raw and powerful as the Dead Kennedys has its love roots. A band built on ideology that said, “I hate the system, and I want you to hear why,” it clearly has a shared love for improving the lives of the mistreated and bringing together teens seeking a haven away from a loveless home life. If you’ve ever been to a punk show, that smell of beer and sweat as you jump and scream beside your best friends can be as pure as love gets.

Love is something that connects human beings on a level to which no other emotion can compare. Whether it’s a significant other, a best friend of 15 years or your tiny lil’ puppy, those “special someones” are important to you. Once music is thrown into the mix, the unstoppable force of love is so compelling that you just can’t help but smile.

Maybe I’m being a little sappy, but I’m a romantic, especially with my babe, music.

One of my first memories involving music came on a lazy Saturday morning, most likely around 2000. Like most typical weekend mornings of my early childhood (before the age of soccer practice and Boy Scout meetings), I was plopped on my dad’s stomach as he basked in the glory that was one of the countless Grateful Dead concert DVDs in our family catalog.

As we sang along to “Sugaree,” our shared favorite, he sat me up and tickled me/played me as a guitar. I giggled and gleamed, enjoying every second of our shared love for each other and a track so beautiful my eyes get misty just thinking about it.

Flash forward to sophomore year of high school. In a moment of questioning what a certain concert T-shirt acronym meant, I found my best friend. (Un)Surprisingly enough, the one thing that overpowered any of our other mutual loves was our love for music. We bonded over weird alternative rock, weirder ’50s gems, dirty punk and everything in between. That kid won my heart, and music had a lot to do with it.

It wouldn’t be fair to leave out the significance music plays in my romantic relationships. In fact, my love life is so intertwined with music that it’s a bit concerning. If a lady has a music taste relatively similar to mine, she’s on the right track to winning my heart.

In my opinion, any beautiful moment with a lady can be made drastically more beautiful with the perfect song playing in the background. And I’ll admit it: I’ve had an “our song” for every relationship I’ve ever had.

It’s been “Your Song” by Elton John, “Bump N’ Grind” by R. Kelly (don’t hate; it’s a ballad both beautiful and provocative that everyone loves at one point in his or her life), and it’s currently “January Wedding” by the Avett Brothers.

Love can be cruel. It can hurt more than any physical pain you’ve ever experienced. But when love turns into the worst thing in the entire world, music is still there to pick you up.

That’s the point of this column. To show everyone that no matter where you stood this Valentine’s Day, you’ll always have your always-and-forever lover: music.

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