Love Stinks

I’ve had the blues,
The reds and the pinks
One thing for sure
Love stinks !

—J Geils Band

It’s Valentine’s Day again, that wonderful super sweet holiday designed just for the lover in all of us .The one day of the year dedicated to that most special of all emotions, the one thing that keeps the whole wide world a-turnin’. Yes we’re talking about love. Love, the most elevated and high minded of all emotions, the one sure fire dividing line between us and those lowly animals who will never know the thrill of just sharing space with that one incredible being who lights up your life, opens up your heart and lets the light of the cosmos shine down upon you.

And if you believe all of that then you either haven’t hit puberty yet or you are the most gullible person that Hallmark Cards has ever seen coming down the pike. Love’s a bitch, and a dirty back-stabbing one at that. Pat Benatar once sang that “Love is a Battlefield,”  but that assumes a chance of actually winning somehow. Love isn’t a battlefield, it’s a myth. A rumor, not to be believed. Sure, you hear of people finding their one true love, but you also hear of people being taken up in flying saucers. And I put about the same amount of faith in each. Back in high school I read the book Love Story. The author said that love meant never having to say that you’re sorry. Mainly I was sorry that I had wasted my time reading such a load of crap. If you never want to say you’re sorry then I’d recommend a massive bank account, not true love.

Of course one could say that I’m somewhat cynical. . . . But if so then I’m hardly the only one. Have you ever looked into the content of love songs? For every “Unchained Melody” there are at least two “Heart of Stone”s. For example, a few Valentines ago I was suffering from a major case of lust (not love, sorry) and set out to put together a mix tape of “Love” songs for someone. And I soon discovered it was damn near impossible to put together 20 songs about love without a good percent of them being about the down side of it all. The side that rips the beating heart out of your chest just so you can feel the pain, the part where that bottle of sleeping pills looks more and more delicious by the minute. I finally did get that tape put together and sent it off to the object of my desires and . . . two days later she was back with her ex and I haven’t heard from her since. So maybe the love songs did have an impact, but hardly the one I intended. And that’s love in a nutshell. Just as soon as you believe in it, you can count on it twisting and turning and becoming the one thing you fear the most — love gone away. And that leads to the other love songs, the ones designed to help you deal with the reality, not with the myth.

So a few years ago I was really happy to discover a celebration of those dark, disturbing songs, the ones that outnumber the sappy ones, the ones that would win any election due to sheer numbers  alone. And it’s on February 15th, the day all the sweetness comes crashing down. I was first turned onto this dark celebration by KUT-FM Eklektikos host John Aielli. He dedicates his post-Valentines show every year to love’s bad side, and he starts off every year with the incredible “Love Stinks” by the J Geils Band, maybe the best stinkin’ love song of all. I say maybe the best because once you start digging into them the list is amazingly long, and it just keeps growing. Apparently one of the top growth industries every year is that of heartbreak and disillusionment; new entries just keep coming in. So John’s celebration of the bad side of love always stays fresh, there’s never any shortage of material.

But this year I’ve been worrying if another shortage might hit the Love Stinks celebration — that being a shortage of show host. John Aielli has been hospitalized twice in the past 30 days or so, heart issues of a whole different stripe. The first occurrence was an actual heart attack the night of January 4th, and he was hospitalized and was off the air for a couple of weeks while recovering. He returned for a few days but then on January 30th he had another episode while preparing for his show and was hospitalized again, thankfully returning on February 6th. We here at the site are big fans of John and wish him a full and speedy recovery, as his contributions to the arts here in Austin are immeasurable. John has been with KUT for over 40 years, and his ability to roll with the punches is almost as astounding. I can’t even count how many changes in management he has seen. I’ve always figured that John would weather the current regime as well, and here’s hoping he does. I don’t want to rehash our problems with current management in this piece. I think instead I will just say how happy I am that John is still on the air, and that we hope for more shows like these. I don’t know what Valentines Day would be like for me now without John. Not the stupid Hallmark Holiday on the 14th of course, but that wonderful return to cynical reality the next day. Love Stinks indeed . . .

To salute John this year I’ve put together a top 10 list of my own favorite stinking love songs, with of course “Love Stinks” at the top. But other than that they are in no particular order. So take a look, maybe put your own list together. And then keep them in mind when you’re eyeing that new sweetie, the one you know you could always love all of your life. And then remind yourself that these songs didn’t write themselves — think of them as those warning signs you see around high-voltage wires. Or those labels on pill bottles . . .  Then wise up and remember

LOVE STINKS ! ! !

Here are Rev Jim’s stinking love songs. I hope to hear them time & again forever.

  1. Love Stinks   J. Geils Band
  2. Heart of Stone   Rolling Stones
  3. Heartbreak Hotel   Elvis Presley
  4. Alison   Elvis Costello
  5. It’s Not Supposed to Be That Way   Willie Nelson
  6. Empty Handed Heart   Warren Zevon
  7. Love Has No Pride   Bonnie Raitt
  8. Thin Line Between Love and Hate   The Pretenders
  9. Roses in the Fire   Rosanne Cash
  10. Why D’ya Do It   Marianne Faithful

—Rev Jim  February 2012

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