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Editor's Note 2/5

I struggled to write this editor’s note. With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, I knew that I wanted to write about relationships and romance. But, the thing was, I had already done that last semester. Sure, discussing how to make a perfect hookup playlist didn’t really delve into the nature of love, but it touched on the subject.

So, instead, I started to think about why I wrote that article in the first place. Why did I even need to have a hookup playlist? As I thought about it, I started to realize that my hookup playlist represented a very specific way of communicating feelings of romance and passion and, yes, maybe even love. More importantly, though, I realized that music is often the best way to communicate the idea of love in an accessible manner. I am certainly no expert on love, but let me attempt to explain.

While there were songs like the ridiculous, yet classic, “Ignition” on the playlist, it started with a song by Elvis called “Loving You” and ended with a song that includes the line “I can’t think of a better thing than growing old with you.” That playlist didn’t just have to be used to chart the ups and downs of one night. It could be used to chart the ups and downs of an entire relationship.

There’s a reason that people use the phrase “soundtrack to my life.” More so than arguably any other form of media, music is so strongly associated with major moments in our life. “Take It Easy” by the Eagles will forever remind me of riding around quiet Minnesota suburbs with my dad in his old Jeep, and “Rivers and Roads” by The Head and The Heart puts me right back in the final days of high school. There is something so incredible and elegant about how music can capture moods and feelings and memories in a way that simple words or images cannot.

So, in that sense, we fall in love to the sound of music. A first kiss might be set to the backdrop of a song at Shooters. (Is this a bad thing? Unclear.) A first date could forever be associated with the Tony Bennett song that was playing in the restaurant when you entered. The head over heels love that strikes out of nowhere could have its very own playlist. And, of course, as our good friend Taylor Swift has taught us so well, break-ups are often best represented as songs.

In the same way that music consists of structured lyrics, complex melodies, harmonies, riffs and chords, love and romance also consist of this crazy combination of logic from the brain and pure emotion from the heart and spontaneity and careful planning and hope and fear and a very certain kind of fire. That’s not something words can describe. It is practically impossible to convey the specific love one feels for someone else with just words.

Instead, we turn to music. The brain’s logic can be heard in the words of a singer and the measured structure of a song. The underlying emotion can be felt in the chords and the tenderness or pain in the singer’s voice. And that hope and the fear and fire and the uniqueness of it can be felt in the ebb and the flow of the song. The waves of emotion that come in and go back out as time progresses.

I don’t have a formula for you this time around. I really wish I did. I know Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, so I’m sorry about that. I sure wish I was enough of an expert to have a playlist that could make two people fall in love. But, hell, I didn’t even know enough about love to realize that a hookup playlist could also be used to represent so much more

I wish there was a formula to fall in love. A playlist you could put on every time you were in the same room as your crush. A song you could play to make a relationship work out. But there isn’t. There is no opener, buildup or closer for this. Instead, we just have a crazy jumble of emotions that is unlike anything else that we ever feel. And that crazy jumble of emotions is something that we call love.

Back in the days when I pretended like I was a good enough actor to be in theater (read: 8th grade), I had a musical director talk to me about his interpretation of why musicals existed at all.

“Why do people sing in musicals? Why don’t they just speak their lines?” he asked me. I fumbled for an answer, so he cut me off and explained.

“Every time people sing in a musical, it is because there is so much emotion that words can absolutely not cut it. There is nothing else they can do but sing.”

At the time, I thought it was absurd. I didn’t understand. Now, I can see. At least a little bit more than 8th grade Sid did. Music is a powerful tool of expression. It can express rage, sorrow and pure joy in a way that our actions and words cannot.

Love is one of those instances where words simply don’t cut it. Because love isn’t something that can be expressed in words. That’s what music is for.


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