Saturday, 16 June 2012

No More "I Love You's" - Annie Lennox

Okay, so... just had a big surprise. My intention was to write about this song with reference to certain moments it reminds me of. Yep, just a little nostalgia-spree again. In the moments before writing the first words, I took a look at the Wikipedia page for it just to check the date it was released. Had a little surprise from the first paragraph.

This is a COVER VERSION?!

In all the years that I have loved this song, I assumed that it was written by (or, at the very least, for) Annie Lennox. Turns out that it was originally written and sung by a group from the 1980's called The Lover Speaks, who gained a recording contract with a little help from Lennox's Eurythmics band mate Dave Stewart. The group also toured with The Eurythmics. I can only assume that Annie Lennox heard it enough times to decide she wanted a go at it.



The original version is very mid-80's in all the ways I love and adore in so many songs. I hear similarities to Simple Minds, as well as power-ballad groups like Cutting Crew and Mister Mister. If it had been on one of the Weetabix cassettes that I mentioned in a previous post, and therefore I'd have spent my early years listening to it repeatedly, I'm sure I would have been eagerly spouting facts about the original when Annie Lennox released her cover.

But it wasn't. And I'm not.

I prefer Lennox's version by miles. I always struggle to answer the question, "What's your favourite song?" but this is certainly somewhere on the long list. The introduction alone (a single synth chord before the 'Do be do be's) makes me feel excited for the rest of the song and, as a whole, the song feels a little darker and honest in her version. The mid-section features talk of monsters and sounds of laughing (giving me those 'moment shivers' I talked about in a previous post) . It's... weird, yes, somewhat ethereal, but entirely fitting with the rest of the song.

"I used to have demons,
in my room at night.
Desire, despair, desire,

so many monsters."

And, oh!, one of Annie's final calls of 'You' that hits that higher note: it completes the song for me, somehow.

How on earth do you describe what makes you love a song so much? Lyrically, I have never found it particularly easy to translate and understand yet I've always managed to feel like there's some kind of story going on. The feeling the song gives me is that of fallen relationships, and a difficulty in finding a way to move on.

The original version, personally, just doesn't sound quite so heartfelt. The passion and audible pain that exists in Lennox's cover just isn't present when I hear The Lover Speaks. I apologise to all the fans of the original, and I'm sure they would scream in protest at my disregard for it. Sorry.

Aside from the pure beauty of the song itself when Lennox sings it, her version also reminds me of a couple of things. The first is going to a youth club as an eleven(ish)-year-old, and the song playing on a stereo in the main hall. Somebody went to skip it (probably preferring to find something a little more upbeat and party-appropriate), and asked if anybody minded. I piped up that, yes, I minded. In remembering this specific event, I also end up recalling other moments from spending time at that club: notably having a huge crush on a girl there, and all the silly little feelings that went with that.

Secondly, this song also reminds me of when my sister went and bought me a copy of Lennox's album Medusa. I had bought the single of No More "I Love You's" and played it incessantly, so my sister clearly thought I'd enjoy the rest of the album. So, yep, she bought it for me. And my response when she was about to hand it to me?

"Why did you buy me that? I didn't ask for it, did I?!"

Wow, I was a real brat :)

Needless to say, it was about a decade later when I actually bought the album for myself since, understandably, my sister decided not to give me the gift.


As a final note, this song has given me one extra pleasing surprise today. I was humming it whilst wandering the house and in walked my girlfriend, back from work. She heard me, and began to sing the 'Do be do be do do do... a-aaa' vocals. I very quickly learnt that she loves this song, and loves Annie Lennox. Musical connections like this are important to me, so it makes me very happy indeed.

"Ah, music! A magic beyond all we do here" -JK Rowling (Harry Potter & The Philosopher's Stone)

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