Recently, for reasons too mundane to recount here, I set iTunes to play songs in alphabetical order, and in the “Love” section I determined that “Love Is” is the finest two-word phrase to begin a song title outside of any that begins with the first-person singular. “Love Is” songs kept coming in waves. Consider this sampling:
“Love Is a Long Road,” Tom Petty
“Love Is a Losing Game,” Amy Winehouse
“Love Is All I Am,” Dawes
“Love Is Alright Tonite,” Rick Springfield
“Love Is For Lovers,” The dB’s
“Love Is Here to Stay,” Ella Fitzgerald
“(Love Is Like A) Heat Wave,” Martha Reeves & the Vandellas
“Love Is Like Oxygen,” Sweet
“Love Is Strong,” The Rolling Stones
“Love Is the Answer,” Utopia
“Love Is the Drug,” Roxy Music
“(Love Is) The Tender Trap,” Frank Sinatra
In addition to pondering the many contradictory things that Love Is, it led me, while searching for comparably fertile two-word phrases, to discover that in rock and roll the only thing that trumps love is narcissism. Because if you want to find the top competition for “Love Is,” you must find I. As in “I’m A” (Believer, Boy, Man, Lady, Loser, Lover, Rocker), “I Can’t” (Get No Satisfaction, Get Next to You, Stand Up for Falling Down, Turn You Lose, Take It, Stand It, Explain, Help Myself, Live Without My Radio, Quit You Baby), “I Wanna” (Be Adored, Be Ignored, Be Loved, Be Sedated, Be Your Boyfriend, Be Your Dog, Be Your Lover, Destroy You, Make Love To You, Marry You, Roo You), and it’s close cousin “I Want” (You, You to Want Me, You Back, A Hippopotamus For Christmas, Candy, A Little Sugar in My Bowl, To Be an Anglepoise Lamp, To Hold Your Hand, To See the Bright Lights Tonight, To Take You Higher, To Tell You).
As a thought experiment, for the next week I plan to listen only to “Love Is,” “I’m A,” “I Can’t,” “I Wanna” and “I Want” songs and see whether I miss the rest. I’ll report back.