By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
Over and over, she played it. Around the 40th play, somewhere near Barstow, I realized she’d fallen asleep . . . with the song stuck on infinite repeat. For hours I drove. Past Victorville. Past Apple Valley. Past Hesperia. “I could never find another lover more precious than you,” sang K-Ci (or maybe JoJo), “more precious thanyouuuuuuuu.”
If you have ever wondered: Hell is a van going 100 miles an hour through the desert, with a broken radio playing “All My Life” for three and a half hours.
That was years ago, but I still know every nuance, every trill and lilt of K-Ci’s (or maybe JoJo’s) voice. For this reason alone, I dedicate my new favorite love song to my ex. In the words of Bon Jovi: “You give love a bad name.” (Gendy Alimurung)
Patti Smith:“Dancing Barefoot”
I first heard “Dancing Barefoot” as a teenager at a Patti Smith concert. I was peaking on a couple hits of Ecstasy when the song began, and I almost peed my pants from joy. It was the most euphoric thing I’d ever heard, and though I was too strung out to make much sense of the lyrics, I understood perfectly well that this was a song about falling in love. Not the kind of hearts-and-flowers schmaltz my adolescent self took pleasure in sneering at, but something pure, raw and beautiful. Smith had given true love a soundtrack, and if I hadn’t been so dehydrated I might have wept.
Here I go and I don’t know why/I fell so ceaselessly
Could it be he’s taking over me . . .
When I could finally crawl out of bed the next day I stumbled to a record store and bought the CD. I was worried the whole experience had just been a cocktail of MDMA and teenage hormones, but even through my blinding headache the song held up. It was nothing as magical as the performance of the night before, but it held up.
I’m dancing barefoot/heading for a spin
Some strange music draws me in/makes me come on like some heroine
And of course it did. This, it turned out, was a song Smith had written about the man who would become her husband, Fred “Sonic” Smith of the MC5. Theirs had been a great love affair that culminated in the rarest of phenomena in rock & roll — a happy marriage.
She is sublimation/She is the essence of thee
She is concentrating on he, who is chosen by she
Although she was at her peak of fame, Smith retired from performing after getting married. The couple retreated to the Detroit suburbs to raise a family. And while many accused the rock icon of selling out by settling down, she was just doing as she had always done: following her heart.
Here I go and I don’t know why/I spin so ceaselessly
till I lose my sense of gravity . . .
The night I saw Smith in concert, she was just a year past burying the man for whom she had written “Dancing Barefoot.” It was his unexpected death that had brought her back to performing; she would later explain it was a way for her to deal with her grief. How strange it must have been for her to stand onstage in front of a room full of strangers and sing a song she’d written nearly two decades before, when their love was just beginning. Or maybe it wasn’t strange at all. Maybe it was a way of remembering, of celebrating a life. Maybe it was even a way of saying goodbye.(Pandora Young)
Aaliyah:“I Care 4 U”
Nothing says “love” better than “death,” so for Valentine’s Day, I’ve been drawn back to the love songs of the glorious, late Aaliyah, who died in an airplane accident in 2001. About a year after she died, as might be expected, Aaliyah released new music.
I remember riding away from my dad’s place in the east San Diego barrio of City Heights one afternoon with a few of my siblings and first hearing one of those songs, “I Care 4 U.” I remember everyone in the car was stunned into silence. It was as if the song, a haunting love letter to an old crush, channeled nothing less than the spirit of Aaliyah herself, raining upon us from the cosmos, as if she were mourning her own absence on Earth and reminding us that we had to move forward without her.
Hold on (hold on)
Stay strong (stay strong)
Press on (for me baby)
I care for you (I care for you)
Aaliyah’s voice in the track is a melancholic, angelic echo. Every time I hear it now, the song fills me with an unbearably heavy sense of loss and longing. We all loved Aaliyah immensely. She was so classy, so sultry, so glamorous, so sweet. And just as with the horrible death of Tex-Mex goddess Selena in 1995, Aaliyah’s passing permanently affected us.
That first day my siblings and I heard “I Care 4 U,” it must have had a particular effect on one of my brothers. He and his wife named their first child, a daughter, Analiyah, honoring both the singer and a beloved aunt of ours who died in 2000. Analiyah and I, to my great honor, share the same birthday. Life is death is love is life, I guess. (Daniel Hernandez)