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
Southern Culture on?the Skids:“Walk Like a Camel”
“If the sun refused to shine . . . ”
At 13, I was sure my wedding song would be Led Zeppelin’s “Thank You.” Me in my peasant Gunne Sax dress, him in an embroidered Mexican shirt and sandals. On the beach, of course. For me, nothing said l-u-v more than Robert Plant in that famous ’70s poster where he’s holding a cigarette in one hand and a white dove in the other. “When mountains crumble to the sea . . . There will still be you and me.”
The wedding did take place next to the beach, actually, but without Zep or the hippie duds. For better or worse, our song choice was “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You).” The band was explicitly told — could I have been clearer? — to play the Marvin Gaye and not the blander James Taylor version. But I digress.
The point is: One grows up and one realizes love songs don’t always have to be so dang serious. That’s why now, as I approach 20 years of marriage, the song that gets me all lovey-dovey is Southern Culture on the Skids’ “Walk Like a Camel.” It’s got a goofy riff and a sneaky beat, but the best part is the line that goes, “Baby, you make me wanna walk like a camel!” That might just be the nicest thing a guy could ever say to a gal. (Libby Molyneaux)
Harry Nilsson: “Without You”
Love songs? Almost any song worth singing is a love song. Even songs you think aren’t love songs really are — like Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs,” for instance, which is a righteous love song for all humanity, a stark plea for heavenly justice against those who would use the weak and the poor for cannon fodder.
Then there’s Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper,” a haunting, darkly seductive lover’s call to face eternity while still young and madly in love. Lou Reed breaks down every color in love’s spectrum from yearning to surrender in two impossibly simple yet incredibly fraught songs, “Pale Blue Eyes” and “I Love You.” Not surprising, since few songsmiths have been more in touch with the heartbreaking ambivalence of adulthood than Uncle Lou. Of course, there are less equivocal treatments to the subject that can be just as compelling: Dylan’s “Lay, Lady Lay,” McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed” and, of course, the ultimate wedding song, Al Green’s “Love and Happiness.” But really, if you think about it, all the many thousands of great love songs are fighting for second place in the pantheon to the undisputed champ of all love songs, Harry Nilsson’s “Without You.” It’s the most naked, gut-wrenching, howling, sorrowful, gorgeous testament to love (and love being lost) that’s ever been recorded. Ever. It’s also one of the bravest things I’ve ever heard put on tape. It’s as much a dare as it is a song, a dare to open up and admit that your heart is beating and breaking and dying for love. (Joe Donnelly)
It is fashionable these days to be cool about love: to tell your bad lover to pack his stuff in a box to the left; to let your boyfriend know you can replace him in a minute. But “La Tortura” has no time for that. The first time I heard it, driving west on the 10 freeway, I pulled over and parked.
This is the song of a man — a repentantman — who believes he deserves to be forgiven for his inconstancy, and a woman fighting hard with herself not to give in. “Man doesn’t live on bread alone,” she insists, “and I don’t live on excuses.”
He answers that now his heart is hers. And then they agree on one thing: “¡Ay amor,” they sing, “¡me duele tanto!”
Oh, love, it hurts me so bad.
It might have been the drums, that insistent oscillating beat; or Alejandro Sanz’s keening tenor, almost chanting in prayer on the chorus: “Yo se que no sido santo/Pero se puedo arreglar amor” (“I’m no saint, but I can fix love”). It might have been Shakira’s poetry, when I finally figured it out:“I cannot ask that the elms bring forth pears,” she groans, “just tell me where you’re going when you leave.” However it happened, “La Tortura,” written by the Colombian diva and her producer, Luis Fernando Ochoa, with Mexican crooner Sanz, became my love song of the decade. For six months, I could not go a day without hearing it. Even now, the album it’s on, Fijación Oral, Vol. I, stays in my car’s CD changer for emergencies. People tell me to shut up when I sing it, which is a lot.
This defies most logic: I believe in true and uncomplicated love, and yet “La Tortura” offers little hope for lasting devotion and almost no relief from agony. Even as Sanz pledges love he insists on his liberty (“From Monday through Friday you have my love/But it’s better if I have Saturdays to myself”). Even as Shakira shudders with longing she suggests he throw his bone to another dog.
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