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Moonlight and the Magic of Love Songs

You must remember this ... As time goes by.

'As Time Goes By,'  the great love song from the classic romantic film, Casablanca, starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, says it all. Music, like scent, instantly evokes memories for us all, quicker than anything else. Shared love songs between a couple are often important to the relationship, acting as a potent reminder of what we really feel for each other, 'Like (a) Bridge over Troubled Water,' when problems crop up or when 'It Don't Get No Better Than This,' we all have our favourite love song. The strange magic of love songs is, as we all know, that when we first hear them together with our new love, while dating, the song is no more than wallpaper to the evening, or event. But in months and years to come, the moment we hear that song, our lives and love seems to be woven inextricably through every note that pulls a corresponding chord in our hearts, resounding with far more strength than it's true volume. Love songs too, can tell us so much about a couple, the era  in which they met, even how deeply they fell for each other, showing us emotional glimpses of the hidden and private realms of those lovers' hearts. 

love songs

Since the European love song was first born (1100 - 1300 AD) at the start of the middle ages and courtly and romantic love found it's first definition and voice here, troubadours, or singer-songwriters as we call them now,  have been wooing objects of adoration with love songs and poetry set to music. The role of the troubadour was not exclusively male, anymore than pop singers today are exclusively male and many a famous woman troubadour or Trobairitz as they were called, quickened her love's heart with songs of temptation and romance. The Trobairitz were almost without exception of noble birth. The troubadour songs, sung in Old Provençal, were collected in songbooks where 2, 500 troubadour songs are still preserved today. The most popular of troubadour songs was the

Canso, or love song:
‘Never was I so overcome,
By any love, nor in distress,
But now I'm conquered totally,
By her good sense and honesty.
Fair is her body, clear her face,
White her hands, and her fingers long.’
Gentle bearing, tender smile: Well-formed she is, yes, everywhere

How could any woman resist being told she has long fingers! But notice how the troubadour indicates that he's been undressing his ladylove with his eager x-ray gaze. Just like today's pop song, there were many genres of troubadour song, including the Alba, or song of dawn, in which lovers mourn the death of night and break of day, ending their night of love. Usually a watchman warns of the impending arrival of the woman's wary husband. The Crusade song was the lover’s lament at leaving his love behind to fight near Jerusalem.  While the Pastorela's theme is that of the pretty peasant woman, usually a shepherdess being met by and wooed by, a would be lover of noble birth. There was also the Escondig, the lover's apology. The 19th century novelist Sir Walter Scott wrote a poem, 'The Troubadour,' in which a noble and loving troubadour is about to leave his love to fight in battle but will love his lady till his last breath:
'Glowing with love, on fire for fame,
A Troubadour that hated sorrow
Beneath his lady’s window came,
And thus he sung his last good-morrow:
‘My arm it is my country’s right,
My heart is in my true love’s bower;
Gayly for love and fame to fight
Befits the gallant Troubadour'

The first troubadour was William IX of Aquitaine (1071 - 1126), Duke of Aquitaine, who according to accounts of his life was: '...one of the most courtly men in the world and one of the greatest deceivers of women. He was a fine knight at arms, liberal in his womanising, and a fine composer and singer of songs. He travelled much through the world, seducing women.' How very like our own, bad boy rock stars of today William sounded. It's a great shame he is already dead, or women everywhere could pelt him with rocks. In the same mould as bad old William, was Robbie Burns who was inspired to write love songs for Annie Laurie as well as the many other women he chased. Like numerous other famed beauties,  Rosanna Arquette had a hit song 'Rosanna' named after her and we see that men have been attempting to arouse love with music, since they first found it worked. Women - beware men who compose for you! So if music is part of the seducer's art, a love song being just the thing to enflame love into raptures of reciprocal, romantic sentiment, how do we nullify its potentially insidious effects when we wish?

love music

In Shakespeare's 'Twelfth Night,' written in 1601, the Duke Orsino, is frustrated in his attempt to woo his lady, so he wonders if surfeiting on music will kill his passion for her, in the same way as gorging on food kills the stomach's appetite. 

'If music be the food of love, play on;
Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die.
That strain again! it had a dying fall:
O, it came o'er my ear like the sweet sound,
That breathes upon a bank of violets,
Stealing and giving odour! Enough; no more:
'Tis not so sweet now as it was before.'

So should you wish to win with music, be wary of overdoing it, do not flood your love with love songs, or you will lessen their power to entice. Of course the love song is not always used as empty, shallow and meaningless bait, sometimes it has the power to heal. The songwriter, Eliot Kennedy wrote a song for the rock star, Bryan Adams and recounts how he received an email from a girl in Argentina, who heard his song. At the time she was anorexic and close to death, but said that hearing this song, reminded her of who she had been once and she thanked Kennedy for writing it and saving her life. So when your man or woman arrives home after a quarrel, looking at you like they'd rather bury you than kiss you, get them a glass of wine, wait till they've ingested and play them your love song. Because as we all know, 'Music has charms to soothe a savage breast,' as the English 18th century poet and playwright, William Congreve so wisely advised. And if you are feeling particularly apologetic, or inspired, how about seducing your partner's heart afresh by composing your own love song for them. And if you are not in the mood but nonetheless think this a good idea, remember that though love rhymes with dove, it also rhymes with shove, a word best left out of the romantics lexicon to ensure melodious and harmonious results. 

Love Spell is a fantastic bewitching tune by the 70s R&B group, The Stylistics, or for those of you that prefer something a little rockier you can listen to Love Potion No 9 written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller and orginally perform by The Clovers and more recently Tygers Of Pan Tang (poodle hair and spandex trousers!) One of my favourite songs is Clairvoyant by Iron Maiden, taken from their Seventh Son of a Seventh Son c.d., believed to be inspired by Orson Scott Card's novel Seventh Son - a Seventh son is alledged to have magical, psychic and clairvoyant abilities.

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