The best reason for reading Let’s Talk About Love: Why Other People Have Such Bad Taste by Carl Wilson (and there are many), is the space the writer gives for his own failings and thwarted desires.
Its stated aim is to explore Celine Dion’s blockbuster hit of an album Let’s Talk About Love as part of the briliant 33 1/3 series, but it quickly becomes a book about taste and critics, and how what we intellectualise isn’t always the same thing as what truly moves us. Along the way he outlines the history and purpose of sentimentality and schmaltz, and includes responses to his original essay by people as varied as Nick Hornby, Kris Novoselic and his former wife Sheila Heti.
All in all, it’s a plea for understanding our baser needs. I recommend it enormously. In the mean time, here’s the quote that summed it up for me:
Another thing I’ve realised: I love the quality of yearning in music. I care more passionately for the hopeless romance of Noel Coward’s ‘Someday I’ll Find You’ than the clever satire of his ‘Mad Dogs and Englishmen’. I’ll always prefer the tremulous falsettos, weeping violins and lachrymose sentiments of rocksteady trios such as The Paragons to the millenarian militancy of 1970s reggae. Give me Yvonne Elliman’s ‘If I Can’t Have You’ over the more revolutionary disco of Giorgio Moroder or Patrick Cowley. The sob and sigh of The Smiths’ ‘Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want’ will always ensnare and seduce me more thoroughly than the vigour and vengefulness of ‘Panic’.
I love music that can’t have what it wants. There’s less of that than there used to be. Listen to the current Top 40 rundown and the lyrics often resemble military drills: give me this! I want that! Obey me! There’s a confidence, an impatience, a sense that life is a checklist of desires and urges to be sated.
Perhaps I’m a sadsack.