My brother and I were laughing about this recently, because he and I share an unusual affinity for all things melancholy. We love sad stories, sad movies, and sad love songs. To us, there is a cathartic quality to each of them. It’s oddly freeing to allow that heaviness in and then let the tears out.
Perhaps we like it because that emotional exchange takes place at a safe distance, far from the reality of our own life struggles? I don’t know, but I’m curious, are we alone, or do you like these things, too?
Here’s a list of some of my brokenhearted love songs:
Move over, Oprah! I’ve got my own list of favorite things to share with folks this holiday season. And my things don’t cost a lot, either…
1. Hot chocolate with whipped cream. Not the fake watery stuff, but the real deal. Cocoa made with *gasp* whole milk and topped with homemade whipped cream. Add a snickerdoodle on the side and I am h-a-p-p-y!
2. Roaring fires. We never light one up in our Connecticut house (the firebox is small, the chimney short), but we enjoy raging, crackling fires all winter long in Vermont. I love the smell of firewood (inside and outside), and nothing beats the indulgence of curling up in front of the fire with a great book.
3. Holiday music. I admit, I do love some of the old classics (like Bing, and Nat King Cole), but one of my all-time favorite holiday songs is “Merry Christmas, Darling” by Karen Carpenter. I also love Christina Aguilera’s version of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and Kelly Clarkson’s “My Grown-up Christmas List.”
4. Pretty wrapping. As I said the other day, I think my mom spoiled me a bit with this one. Now, I can’t make my packages look pretty, but I so appreciate other people’s artistry with bows and other decorative wrapping trinkets. It’s very romantic.
5. Snow! Oh, I know. It creates all kinds of practical problems–traffic, school cancellations, shoveling duties. But few things on earth are more beautiful than waking up to a thick blanket of snow on the ground and frosting the branches of the trees, or that lovely quiet it creates outside–a muffled kind of peace that practically reaches inside your chest to slow your heart and breathing and force you to relax and appreciate the day.
So those are my top five favorite things about December. Share one of yours!
I’m currently immersing myself in developing the hero and heroine of a new story I’m about to start writing. They are first introduced as supporting characters in a manuscript I’m just finishing, so some of their core traits are already established. Still, it’s fun to begin to build a world around each of them. Who was their best friend in high school? What is their favorite food or color? What was their biggest childhood embarrassment? The better I know and write them, the more multidimensional they’ll come across to the reader.
I draw from a lot of sources to create realistic characters, including personal experience, movies, photographs, and music. Always music. Since this story is set in the Rocky Mountains (probably my favorite spot in our country), I’ve got a lot of great material to play with during the research phase.
My new heroine, Kelsey Callihan, is a hopeless romantic who has a hard time accepting defeat when it comes to matters of the heart. I’m thinking this lovely tune by The Civil Wars is a perfect fit for her. And since I love to share music with others, I’m linking this Youtube video (credited to Lilian de V.) so you can listen, too.
If you’ve never heard of The Civil Wars but appreciate great harmony, you should check out their music. You might recognize Kingdom Come from the movie The Hunger Games. I also love the song Poison & Wine.
Care to share any music with me? I’m open to every genre except heavy metal and really hard/punk rock.
As with most years, 2013 brought highs and lows to my life. Unfortunately, the lows have had more lasting consequences than the highs, so I’m not sorry to see this year pass. Hopefully, 2014 will offer opportunity for positive changes.
But let’s not be maudlin. Looking back, I want to acknowledge some of my favorite books and songs of the year (because a good love story or song can brighten any day, week, month, or year!).
My favorite read last year was probably Me Before You by JoJo Moynes. This story really hit all the right notes for me emotionally (but have Kleenex handy). I also read my first Courtney Milan book (the first of many to follow), Unveiled, and fell head over heels for the charming Ash Turner. I also fell for a hot, cocky, serial-killing ghost (well, by the end of the second book, I’m pretty convinced he was wrongly accused) in Karen Robards‘ new series The Last Victim/The Last Kiss Goodbye (he reminded me of Sawyer from LOST). Unfortunately, I have to wait until August for the third book…sigh. I read a few more Kresley Cole books, my favorite being Shadow’s Claim. I should give a nod to the one and only work of literary fiction I read this year, Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, a gritty, compelling, disturbing story.
I discovered a couple of new-to-me bands I really like, including Australia’s The Paper Kites (the song Bloom is super sweet, and there are a few others on that album that are equally nice), and Family of the Year (their song Hero is great). Lyric-master Sara Bareilles put out another great album, which includes a song that will long reside on my favorites list (Brave…love every word of this anthem). While my long-time crush, Justin Timberlake’s, new album was a disappointment, I do enjoy the songs Mirror and Blue Ocean Floor. I also enjoyed tapping my toes to ZZ Ward’s Put The Gun Down. And like so many others, totally indulged in the guilty pleasure of dancing around my house (or car, or vacation pool) to Robin Thicke’s cheesy but fun Blurred Lines.
How about you? Any favorite books or songs you’d like to share with me?
I’m in the midst of writing a new book, so naturally I’m spending a lot of time thinking about how couples progress from new love to happily-ever-after. Lately I’ve been wondering whether an HEA requires a wedding. In other words, is marriage necessary for a couple, or is a great love binding on its own? Sting’s ultra-romantic song, The Secret Wedding, supports an argument for the latter proposition.
Marriage is often an “end goal” in romance novels, and similarly in the hearts of many young women. In fact, in our country alone, 2.5 million weddings occur each year, and the business of weddings has grown into a $40 billion-dollar-per-year industry.
Of course, once committed, we quickly learn a shared life is a journey, not a destination. And whether you spent ten or one hundred thousand on your wedding day, the realities of life after that occasion are the same for most couples. So maybe Sting has a point…abiding love doesn’t require a wedding to justify or prove its existence.
Regardless of your beliefs, I think most women swoon at the lyrics of this song. To me, it describes a love too deep to be broken or contained, as aptly stated in its refrain:
The secret marriage vow is never spoken
The secret marriage never can be broken
My read on this is the “secret marriage” is a love so strong it simply endures without end. The sentiment of the song is amplified by the lilting tempo of the delicate piano strokes meting the melody. Take a listen:
Of course, it also doesn’t hurt that Sting was smokin’ hot back in the 90s when he released this song. I love the cover of Nothing Like The Sun. I’ll just stare at it and pretend he’s serenading me.
What do you think? Must you marry your soul mate to hold onto lasting love?