Love Songs Then and Now (and a Call for More)

Paul Dean
Paul Dean
2013 29 May

It’s interesting the different music styles played in different restaurants these days and there’s no doubt it’s a reflection of which market they are targeting. Something struck me recently as an old song was playing in one of my favorite eateries and it immediately brought to mind another song I had heard only days earlier in another café.

The Beatles recorded a song called “Eight Days a Week.” Like many others of the era, it’s a love song and actually has a good sentiment. The singer makes the point that “eight days a week are not enough to show [he cares].” He loves his girl every day; she’s always on his mind. It speaks to the fact that love means commitment.

Fast forward twenty years for the other song that came to mind: “Friday I’m in Love” by the Cure.  The song opens with these words: “I don't care if Monday's blue, Tuesday's gray and Wednesday too, Thursday I don't care about you, it's Friday, I'm in love.” Every stanza is similar. He says to his girl, “Monday you can fall apart, Tuesday, Wednesday break my heart, oh, Thursday doesn't even start, it's Friday I'm in love.” The point is that he doesn’t care what happens to her through the week or what she does. He’s simply happy to have a girl on Friday night – for his own physical pleasure, of course. It’s not about love but personal fulfillment.

Fortunately I won’t fast forward another twenty years as thankfully nothing specific comes to mind. What I am sure of, though, is that there are plenty of songs today that would take The Cure’s sentiment to the next level; it’s all about hooking up with whoever, whenever, for whatever reason. In “Friday I’m in Love,” the singer is focused on one girl even if he doesn’t care about her but one day a week. Today, there’s no care or one-girl-focus at all – it’s all about the moment – existentialism played out in the sexual arena.

The reality is we’re not merely talking about love songs but songs that truly reflect majority attitudes in culture. We’re talking about a massive culture shift in a relatively short period of time. While no one would accuse The Beatles of being Christian, they burst on the scene when a Christian worldview, in some sense, still had major influence in our culture. No doubt it had already been eroded in large measure as evidenced by the sexual revolution of the sixties. But what we see today is the continued erosion of that worldview to the point that it has practically no influence in our culture at all. Our music is but one piece among many that point to that sad reality.

Of course, we can wring our hands, make lots of noise (and enemies), and become even more marginalized. Or, we could just cave like so many Christians and become assimilated into the larger culture. For too many Christians resistance has proved futile and they’ve joined in. Or, we could do what the Lord Jesus told us to do – fulfill our calling – to be salt and light. We could see that every day of our lives and in the particular vocations to which God has called us we are to live for God’s glory; we are to reveal Him; we are to be culture makers – creating kingdom culture. And, while we’re influencing those round about us with our lives and conversations, we can encourage Christians who are artists, musicians, and journalists, to do the same. Let them be excellent in their fields and let them crossover into the so-called secular arena – not as sell-outs – but as Christians who have a calling to be culture makers just like the rest of us. Maybe we could have some new love songs about a lifetime of faithfulness. It’s no doubt what some are longing for; they just don’t know it yet.

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