Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Romantic songs for guys who like...fluffy bears

Well, real men aren't supposed to get all mushy and into romantic stuff, so unless it's a spoof skit on Whose Line Is It Anyway?, you're not likely to see any promos for Romantic CDs for Men. Now, don't get me started on gay-versus-heterosexual stereotypes. I've been thinking about Valentines Day and romantic things lately and my friends all say I'm in love, so this is just going to be one of those mushy macho guy posts.

I did sort of wonder what the guys on Whose Line Is It Anyway? could make of a "Love Songs For Toothless Men" or "101 Romantic Songs For Soldiers In Combat". I'm sure they'd put the audience into stitches before Wayne Brady could start singing the first verse. Ryan Styles would probably open with, "Colin, what makes for a romantic evening?" And Colin Mochrie would say, "Well, for me, Ryan, it's probably sitting in a duck blind with my .016 gauge shotgun, grooving to the mellow tones of Kristina and the Waves."

And it would go downhill from there. Nothing is sacred for these guys. When it comes to love songs, few probably would be sacred for most men.

Men tend to listen to two kinds of songs: "tears in my beer" and songs whose lyrics are so incomprehensible all we can do is bob our heads up and down. "Tears in my beer" doesn't just reflect the country song stereotype popularized by Mel Tillis on Love, American Style (he played a song-writer who only wrote hits when girls broke his heart). Any genre of music can boast a "Tears" song. In fact, it seems like all the genres are competing for Most Wussy Man-Song of the Year these days.

There was a time when it was okay for every man to own a Barry White CD. Everyone "knew" we were just hoarding it for that right moment when we got some drunk girl back to our pad for a little "romance". Never mind the fact that we drive to work and home again listening to Barry moaning, "Brreeeeuuuu! Baby, oh Baby! What am I gonna do?" If you just want to feel like a True Player, you get Barry White and let the neighbors know you're puttin' on your game late on Saturday night.

Stevie Wonder probably ruined love songs for men by making his songs so special that every cool guy had to play them 15 times a day. My older brother -- who consistently dominated every school playground by beating up any bully who even breathed in my direction, who had more girls following his deep manly "Hey there" home each week than most guys dream about in a year -- was a big Stevie Wonder fan. I don't know why. It's a musician thing. He and his friends laughed at me for once saying that the Osmond Brothers' "Crazy Horses" sounded a little more progressive than their usual pop smear. But Rick could play "Isn't she lovely?" all day long. He probably played it as background music when he was giving his own daughters baths.

It's hard to be a tough street kid that everyone fears when you're walking down the road with the song "I'd Love You Tou To Want Me" by Lobo playing in your head over and over. There were days when I would strap on a couple of extra knives and stick a sawed-off shotgun down my pants just so the motorcycle gangs in the neighborhood would remember they didn't have what it took to mess with me. Those were the days I'd be groovin' to the Stylistics "You Make Me Feel Brand New" and "Stoned In Love With You".

When I hit the college circuit, I found that there were plenty of reasons to play romantic songs around my friends. They'd usually break down and reminisce about their first loves in the 8th grade. "Man, I really liked the way Toolie whipped her pigtails around as she danced to this song," someone would say. Toolie? Oh, puh-lease. At least I mooned over a girl named Julie for six years. She wasn't only gorgeous, she could really dance (ballet) and she liked me. She really, really liked me. Sniff. I think of her every time I hear "Come and Get Your Love", or is that "The Waltz of the Flowers"?

Nonetheless, the power of music to sway a girl's heart should not be underrated. Just a few years ago, I teased a young lady about "Why Don't You And I" by Santana being "our" song. She said she didn't even like it. And yet, a few months later, as we were driving to lunch, the song came on the radio and she said, "I think of you every time I hear this song." Muwhahahaha! That is the power of Neuro Romantic Programming. Okay, I think of her when I hear that song, too, so I don't play it much any more.

Tonight (or, this morning, as I'm not feeling very sleepy) I thought I'd put together a Valentine's Day CD for my girlfriend. The 15-16 songs I thought I could pick out quickly ballooned to 94. I'm not sure I want to go through with this project, so maybe sanity is returning. Maybe I'm just getting sleepy.

I started out with positive, upbeat songs like "Walking on Sunshine" by Katrina and the Waves, "Time After Time" by Cindy Lauper (I think it's a love song, but I just sort of bob my head up and down when I hear this one), "Whatcha See Is Watcha Get" by the Dramatics, and "This Kiss" by Faith Hill. But I quickly got mellow and added Barry White songs by the score (was this a Valentine's CD or a Seduction Secrets Trap?), "Edge of the Ocean" by Ivy, "Can't Stay Away From You" by Gloria Estefan (a little subtle message), "I Knew I Loved You" by Savage Garden, "The Fever" by Bruce Springsteen, "Oh, Girl" by the Chi-Lites, "The Game of Love" by Santana with Michele Branch, "A Whole New World" by Brad Kane and Lea Salonga, "I Only Have Eyes For You" by Art Garfunkel...well, you can see where the plan went awry.

A CD that was supposed to make her think of me and sigh with romantic anticipation quickly turned into a list of syrup-laden soppy Herb Alpertesque "This Guy Is So In Love With You" (I should get that one!) songs professing my undying love and devotion. That is so wrong. I'm supposed to be the man in this relationship. She's supposed to be wanting me.

So what if I listen to these songs all day long (well, when I'm in the car, where no one can hear them but me)? So what if they all make me think of her?

It means nothing. She listens to love songs all day. I'm sure she thinks of me when she hears..."Let it burn" by Usher, or "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" by the Four Seasons. Yeah. She thinks of me all day long. Can't live without me. I'm her Dream Lover. She'd walk a thousand miles just to be with me.


I don't know who invented Valentine's Day, but I hope they rot in hell. But not until the flowers, the chocolates, and the fluffy bear have been delivered next Tuesday.

Hey, that could be a song....


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