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I have a playlist on my iPhone called "Never Tire Of." It's exactly what it sounds like: songs that I'll never skip over when they come up on shuffle because I just really love them.
One of those songs is "I Love You" by Climax Blues Band, a soft-rock hit from 1981, heard here in the popular YouTube video "Dog Falls For Cat." It was my wedding song.
I've been divorced for seven years.
Voluntarily listening to the song you first danced to as husband and wife when you're no longer husband and wife may seem like wistfulness, or even an admission of not being over him. But for me, at least, that's definitely not the case. I just really love that song.
In fact, I've loved it for as long as I can remember; I was only two years old when it became a radio hit.
Even though it exemplifies the cheesy "yacht rock" of the time, I've always felt that both its instrumentals and lyrics are so damn lovely; I'm a sucker for a pop song with a string section, and the singer just sounds so in love and grateful to have his lady in his life. It made me hopeful that I could be loved and appreciated that way.
Looking back, I can see that I projected that fantasy onto my relationship with the wasband, Josh -- and very early on.
We had met through The Onion's online personals in 2002, when online dating had a much bigger stigma than it does now. I was still nervous about the whole idea -- unlike how nowadays I don't know how to meet people any way but the internet -- so when we decided to meet at Arlene's Grocery for Punk Rock Heavy Metal Karaoke's costumed anniversary show, I brought along a friend.
Josh was the only one in a suit because he'd decided to perform Elvis Costello's "Radio Radio" with the band. Everyone else was dressed punkier and heavy-metal-ier to look like the singers of their chosen songs. (My friend and I were in jeans and sweaters--obvious spectators.)
It wasn't long after Josh proved he was a great singer that we hit it off as we'd hoped. He called the next day.
While we were on the phone, the conversation somehow lapsed into a game of Name That Tune, which I happen to be awesome at. When it was my turn to challenge him, I picked "I Love You," not for any silly subconscious reasons (I think), but because I genuinely thought it was obscure and old enough to stump him.
After just two dreamy keyboard notes -- not even two seconds -- he confidently guessed correctly and told me how much he'd always loved that song.
Right then and there, my love-hungry, 23-year-old mind decided I was going to marry him and that was going to be our wedding song. A year and a half later, my 24-year-old, doubt-filled mind got what it thought it wanted.
The song was never about us, the way wedding songs should feel. It was just a song we both happened to really love, and it happened to be about love, and we had a cute moment involving it. That's not the same thing.
Just as I loved that song years before I met Josh, I still love it years after divorcing him. I love it like I inexplicably love lots of old songs that are at once corny and beautifully arranged, like Carly Simon's "Nobody Does It Better "-- holy shit, can I please drown in that song's coda? Tingles. Every. Time.
I can't explain why "I Love You" barely even qualifies as bittersweet for me. When it plays, I just feel happy, like I do with any other song I love. Perhaps it's because we were together for only three years? But even then, it wasn't an emotionless breakup.
I guess my lifelong love of the song just far outweighs my temporary love for Josh.
I fucking hate "Radio Radio," though.