Tangled Up in Blue, a new group blog, recently asked people to name the all-time best love song. While I'd agree with some of the people's choices (Glen's choice of Annie's Song in particular), I must confess sympathy with the sentiment that the world has probably "had enough of silly love songs." Listening to popular songs on the radio, I feel like music is permanently fixated on being age 16. Not that 16 isn't a great age. If I could return to age 16 with what I know now (and a cure for acne), I could get into a helluva lot of trouble (again). But can't popular musicians occasionally sing about something else?
When musicians do sing about anything else happening in our lives, it stands out to the point of sounding strange. Examples that come immediately to mind are some songs by Crosby, Stills, and Nash (Our House, Teach Your Children Well). Running counter to the mainstream rock-n-roll theme of teenybopper rebellion, the group actually has positive things to say about family life. Then there are the songs of Cat Stevens that also tend to cover taboo topics (a lover dying, love for a dog, disgust for work in a large corporation, etc.)
As I think about this, I'm reminded of some poems by the Chinese poet Tufu, who occasionally wrote odd poems about very unpoetic states of mind--for example, rushing around excitedly after hearing that a rebellion had ended and that he could now return to his family. Art should be like this. It should illuminate the depths of our existence instead of focusing on formulaic depictions of teenage passion.