So, in case you don’t know, the title of my band’s most popular album is Love Is Dead. So every time the phrase “love is dead” pops up in the world, I usually get some kind of comment directed my way from “our people.” There aren’t all that many of us, but in our little circle “love is dead” means The Mr. T Experience — Love Is Dead. It just does. Its appearance in any other context is inherently funny, or at least odd, even though we don’t own it. Our inside jokes sustain us. Without them, we’ve got almost literally nothing.
The latest iteration is a recent album with that title by the Scottish synth-electronica-pop group Chvrches. I know nothing of them and am unqualified to comment on their music beyond to say that, to judge from cursory sampling on YouTube, it all seems pleasant enough. As I’ve explained, people in our tiny world tend to find such things funny and will often note the occasion with ironic posts, e.g., posting our album cover in threads about the Chvrches’ release. I’m sure this mystifies them, the Chvrches people, if they ever notice it, even moreso if any of them ever were to hear any of it. We’re from different worlds and I doubt we make much sense to each other.
Even among the small fry, the dynamic works both ways too, of course. Once we played with a band called Juliana Theory, who had an album entitled Emotion Is Dead. (Evidently that is some kind of play on “emo” — one of many things out there in the musical world I don’t quite understand.) Some of their fans, noticing Love Is Dead on our merch table, were deeply affronted. They assumed our album was some kind of targeted attack on the similarly-named Juliana Theory album, or at least a tawdry rip-off, the sullying of a great name, a great work. But of course, while our bubbles — the MTX bubble and the JT one — temporarily occupied space in close proximity to one another on that one night, these were almost completely mutually exclusive bubbles otherwise. (I’d certainly never heard of this band before stepping into the venue and I have no doubt it was mutual.) That’s the way things are in such bubbles. Among the inhabitants, trivia loom large and can be very meaningful, but outside them the inside jokes that fuel the micro-culture just don’t work at all.
Anyway, let this post stand as a public notice that, yes, I’m aware of Chvrches — Love Is Dead and that, yes it’s at least theoretically kind of funny.
Unfortunately there isn’t a title track. We’ve got one, though it didn’t appear on the album, but rather on the subsequent one — we’re tricky like that.
Comparing lyrics might have made for some good riffing. Or maybe not. We’ll never know. Unless they, too, put the title track on their follow-up album (Chvrches — Revenge Is Sweet and So Are You.) Then we’ll know.
Fanciful as it may be, I’ve always had a sense that such inadvertent overlaps of bubbles, great and small, connect us in some ironic sense. That is, for example, Chvrches, my band, and anyone else who has ever released a “Love Is Dead” are in a sort of ad hoc “club” — the Love Is Dead Club. Here’s another club member, Kerli (with an album cover seems just a bit… familiar, though the song certainly does not.)
(By the way, that linked video has nearly five million views on YouTube so she’s a much more prominent club-member; outside our bubble, our “Love Is Dead” is just a footnote to somebody else’s footnote in a book no one ever wrote.)
And here’s what happens when you search “Love Is Dead” on youtube: lots of members of the Love Is Dead Club pop up. (I have to say that very few of these that I’ve listened to are my cup of tea, songwise; but I imagine they’d say the same about mine.) BMI lists 45 registered songs with that title, including mine; ASCAP has 37. Sometimes I like to explore the other titles of these writers, just to see what the other members of the club might be up to. (I have on occasion styled this “BMI diving” — see below.)
The Canadian singer-songwriter Dan Bryk, at least, seems like my kind of writer, with titles like “Born Too Late for the Sexual Revolution” and “Silence that Passes for Peace of Mind.” (I can’t find his “Love Is Dead,” unless it’s this: not bad.) Or here’s Love Is Dead Club member Frank M Randall: “Santa Claus Girl,” “My Blue Collar,” and “Sitting on the Amp” really sound promising.
And I’m quite fond of this:
[This video has been removed from YouTube since posting — it was an earnest, rock and roll pop “revue” style stage performance of a a song called “Love Is Dead” by a Japanese band whose name I no longer remember — ed.]
And so on.
There are of course other such clubs — in which membership is solely determined by who has written a song with a given title, and which exist only in my own head. I’ve written about them before. As part of the project here on Medium involves trying to preserve some of my old writing before the blog it was originally written on crumbles away, I’m going to regurgitate a bit of that here.
One of them is by Man Buffalo and Woman Good Eagle (or is it Buffalo Man and Good Eagle Woman — there’s a good title for ya right there.) They have a small catalog which also includes, in addition to “Another Yesterday,” “Little Baby” and “Evolution Revolution.” I don’t know if I could come up with a good one for “Evolution Revolution,” but the experiment might be interesting.
Another one of the “Another Yesterday”s is by one Jen Kellie. Her catalog (I assume it’s a she) is much larger, and has some titles I really could imagine working with. “Tears and Margaritas.” Yep. Or there’s John “Another Yesterday” Sands (“She Wouldn’t Touch me with a 1[0 Foot Pole]” — I’m guessing at the bracketed part, as long titles are truncated. That’d work. So would “She Wouldn’t Touch me with a 1” come to think of it.)
I wish I felt confident enough in my skills to attempt to write a convincing song called “Bones on the Road,” like Geoff “Another Yesterday” Gibbons did. “Whisper of Your Tears” would provide a great opportunity to exploit the mixed metaphor for all it’s worth, maybe to imagine other liquids (blood, Scotch, propane, spit, amniotic fluid, etc.) having audible, human sounds associated with them.
And of course there are some titles by authors in the Another Yesterday Club that just say it all, one of which is also by Geoff Gibbons: “You Scare Me.”
Or “Vital Vibrant Vancouver” by Another Yesterday Club member Violet Dorothy Cameron.
I’ve rarely encountered any who have more than a couple of titles in common with mine, but I bet you could analyze the types of songs that the writers who do share titles tend to write and come up with some interesting inter-genre conclusions about songwriting approaches. (A lot of country song writers are in my Title-o-sphere, mostly because country music is a title-oriented racket as a rule, I suppose.) Plus, of course, you can get ideas for new songs of your own (which is the perennial fear of most writers: running out of ideas.) I daresay it wouldn’t work so well or be so interesting for writers who aren’t as “title-oriented” as I am. Give it a try, though. It doesn’t cost anything.
On the “You’re the Only One” Club: More title-o-sphere fun: I just looked up “You’re the Only One” and turned up the small yet seemingly thematically coherent oeuvre of John P. Lemonis, Jr.
His “You’re the Only One” seems, like mine, to be a song of devotion, but of a rather different sort. At least I get the impression he’s singing about the Lord rather than his baby. Kind of an anthem of monotheism, I think. “Blood of Christ.” “Call to Praise.” “In Your House.” “Lord We Praise You.” “You’re the Only One.” Hey, wait a minute — what’s up with “Let’s Run Away”? I’m sure there’s a perfectly logical explanation, but I prefer to imagine, ignorantly, that Mr. Lemonis is breaking new theological ground as well as new “relationship ground.” In ways I can’t always quite put my finger on, life is pretty great sometimes.
[Program note for anyone who has read this far down and/or who might care, my posting program got thrown out of whack by doing a weekend’s worth of shows and then spending the following week away from a computer. I’m planning to get back up on the horse this week, but we’ll see how that goes: I rather enjoyed not being on the horse.]