One of my new favorite bands is local Seattle group Hey Marseilles. I saw them play at Mayor Mike McGinn's Inauguration Party earlier this month and fell in love. Their orchestral, melodic, surprisingly agile tunes are a pleasure to listen to.
[mp3] To Travels & Trunks
Why can't you see heaven won't wait for us?
Salutations and prayers are too laborious
All I want is love eternally,
with your heart facing me.
Reminds me of another song I've heard recently - Hot Chip's new song, "One Life Stand:"
[mp3] One Life Stand
I only wanna be your one life stand.
Tell me do you stand by your whole man?
These dudes really want to be in long-term relationships, and they're not afraid to sing about it. We know that members of bands are always ahead of the curve on culture, whether it's fashion or lifestyle choices. Is this a mark of the new post-gender norm that twenty-somethings will pick up on next week, and tweens will be embracing in 2015?
Well, let's not exaggerate the uniqueness of this point of view; young people have wanted to be in long-term relationships forever. But here's the interesting thing, I think, about these two excellent songs - it's the confident expectation that's implied in those bolded statements. "All I want is love eternally." "I only wanna be your one life stand." They could be read differently, but the sense I get is that you could easily add afterward, "Is that so much to ask?"
Compare this to the most popular indie rock love song of the last few years (released in 2005, that somehow extended its life for years as everyone, literally everyone heard the song, it made its way onto TV shows and mix CDs, and cover versions proliferated - it's still relatively popular even now) "I Will Follow You Into the Dark" by Death Cab for Cutie:
If there's no one beside you
When your soul embarks
Then I'll follow you into the dark.
When your soul embarks
Then I'll follow you into the dark.
Note the "if." Note that the narrator is doing the following, if it's OK with the romantic object. Emo music, and by extension indie music as a whole (which it largely morphed into, I don't think there are really any "emo" bands left) used to be largely comprised of what were called "hopeless romantics;" yearning for some unattainable love interest. At least in the two songs mentioned above, the narrators are more like hopeful romantics. But this goes beyond hope, it's more like confident expectation.
This is interesting to me because I wonder if it's a trend. I was under the impression that we were entering a post-monogomous age where old, more-traditional view of relationships were beginning to erode, where marriage (and, really, monogamy itself) was beginning to fade away into a neo-60s-ish "free love" era only with all of the lessons we've learned from that era intact (don't use too many drugs, do use protection, sex and love are good with a committed, trusting romantic partner but aren't confined only to one person or to the confines of a society-sanctified marriage relationship). When something like 50% of marriages end in divorce, and have for the last few years, you'd think that us young folks would look at what our parents went through (author's note: each of my parents are on their third marriage) and start giving up on marriage as an ideal and maybe on strict monogamy as well.
If you read the last post, then you got the idea that I am sort of in this camp. I'm at least of the ideology that a relationship is not a must, that we're all OK even if we never get married, that when a relationship ends it's not a tragedy, that you aren't a broken person, that the right person will come along or maybe they won't and that everything's OK even if they never do.
I think that's why I related so strongly with the recent films Up In The Air and (500) Days of Summer. Both show their main characters being bummed out that their most recent relationship didn't work out, but the films also say, a little more subtly, "Hey, they didn't work out, but life goes on and everything's still OK." I remember reading an interview with the director of Days where he says (unfortunately, I can't find the link, and also spoiler warning if you haven't seen the film yet), he says something like, "At the end, Tom meets this new girl, Autumn. And you wonder, is he going to make the same mistakes? Is he going to fall for her? Or is he going to learn and grow?"
And I think that was one of the keys to the film, and I didn't think about until I read the interview. The point is that he was helped to become a more complete, independent person because Summer broke up with him, that that was the role of the relationship in his life: it forced him to man up and realize that he has a life all his own. That relationships are great and they can teach us things but we're never going to get anything out of life unless we're getting that already from our own lives, from our own selves, that love or a relationship can only add to what we already are, can only be a perk, if you will, but can never really complete us. The relationship meant a lot but it wasn't the end-all be-all of existence. He started doing OK sort of because of the end of the relationship, but his potential was there all along. And I think (hope) Tom was learning that by the end.
So when cute indie rock boys are implying that requesting "love eternally" from another person is OK (maybe even expected or justified) it sends a different message. I think that eschewing traditional societal expectations for romantic relationships (let's not even get into traditional views re: heteronormativity) is a good thing. Society progresses. That's a good thing.
Do you think society is growing toward a post-monogamy norm?
Or are we still the same as always?
Do you think that sex should stay inside of marriage?
Did you have different interpretations of these films? Of these lyrics?
What's your favorite 2010 indie rock love song? Will it be as popular as Death Cab's? Is Death Cab still relevant?
Do you think you will not be complete until you find your soul mate + marriage partner?
Can you have more than one soul mate?
Is it a tragedy when a relationship ends?
What did you learn from your last relationship? Was it worth it?
Is it OK to expect a life-long commitment from your partner (to express that expectation through song)?
Any other comments?