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30 More Songs Day 2: Your Favorite Love Song — “It Couldn’t Please Me More” from Cabaret

January 3, 2012

“I don’t have a favorite love song.”

“What?” said Mr. Spy, half listening.

“I can’t think of any love songs. I’m supposed to write about my favorite love song today and I can’t think of a single love song.”

“How can you not know a love song?”

“I don’t know. Every time I think of one they’re always depressing, like where one person is in love and the other isn’t. I don’t think I like love songs.”

“What about ‘You Don’t Bring Me Flowers?”

Mr. Spy is forever trying to convince me that I like Neil Diamond. I am forever trying to convince him that I can’t stand Neil Diamond.

“I hate that song.”

“But it’s a love song.”

“True.”

“Well what about George Harrison, ‘Something’?”

“Okay. That’s a love song.”

But the thing about that song is that when I was in 4th or 5th grade, I had this elaborate nightmare about zombies. Except it wasn’t just a nightmare, it was a musical nightmare. And the centerpiece song was a parody of “Something.” It was sung by the head zombie, an older woman who wanted me to give her my brain.” Instead of “Don’t want to leave her now,” she sang, “I need your darling mind.” I know, not so scary right? But it was at the time. And the fact that I still remember this detail mumble-mumble years after the fact should make that clear. So no, my favorite love song is not “Something.”

I might pick “Cursed Sleep” by Bonnie Prince Billy, but I wrote about that the last time I did a music meme.

I also think “The Waters of March” is an amazing love song, but I’ve written about that before too.

Frankly, a lot of my trouble with identifying love songs is that I tend not to listen to lyrics very carefully. But the standard issue love song does little for me. It’s boring. I like the domestic — it’s what I love about “The Waters of March.” And when I thought about that aspect, I knew exactly which song was my favorite love song: “It Couldn’t Please Me More (The Pineapple Song)” from the musical Cabaret:

This is not my favorite recording of the song, although it’s a good one. My favorite version pairs the inimitable Lotte Lenya with Jack Gilford as Fräulein Schneider and Herr Schultz. In the show, Schneider and Schultz are usually played for laughs, although they are also representative of old Germany. Fräulein Schneider sings,

If you brought me diamonds,
If you brought me pearls,
If you brought me roses
Like some other gents
Might bring to other girls,
It couldn’t please me more
Than the gift I see;
A pineapple for me.

She doesn’t like the romantic trappings either. Herr Schultz brought her something she really wanted — something exotic, delicious and useful. Schneider is tough as nails through most the show. She cannot be moved. At the end of the song when she admits, “I am overwhelmed,” it is a huge leap in her character development. Fräulein Schneider does not get overwhelmed. She does not lose control. But Herr Schultz has won her over.

Herr Schultz won me over too. I’ve played in the orchestra for several productions of this show, which,if you’ve seen the show, you’ll know means that I was sitting around stage in my underwear night after night feeling like an idiot. And even in the show where I had a huge crush on the emcee (who looked nothing like Joel Grey), Herr Schultz’s romantic gift always made me sigh.

Do you have a favorite love song? Is it about roses or pineapples?

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. January 4, 2012 10:51 am

    Sondheim’s “You Must Meet My Wife” is a love song, to my way of thinking, but I like your choice better. I too prefer Lenya’s version!

    Speaking of “Cabaret” it was very unsettling to discover what “Tomorrow Belongs To Me” is actually about…

  2. January 4, 2012 10:58 am

    I’ve been making mix tapes, and now CD mixes and playlists, of songs of love for my wife for the past 20 years (we’ve been together for 13 of those years, and married for 7 1/2), I’m always on the prowl for love songs, some more conventional than others. I wrote a post about it last year after a friend of mine wanted some suggestions to pass along to a couple of women whose marriage ceremony he was performing. I went back and read the post just now, and a lot of the songs on the list are still in my top 100. I was stunned to see that I didn’t have any k.d. lang songs in the list — an obvious oversight that needs to be updated.

    I’ve been working on a playlist of Love in 2012 for Pam, as we just passed our 13th anniversary of being together. So far it has “Tonight She Comes” and “Magic,” both from Kris Delmhorst’s album CARS, covering tunes by the band of the same name; “My Speed,” by Lake Street Dive, “Dance Me to the End of Love” by The Civil Wars, “Share the Moon” by the Indigo Girls, “Reservations,” “Wouldn’t Have Noticed,” and “Surprise” by Joy Kills Sorrow. I definitely need to add “100 Million Years” by M. Ward to the playlist. Thanks for this post. Probably some of these will make it on there as well!

    Here’s my post from last year: http://joyhowie.wordpress.com/2010/06/25/some-music-of-love-from-wjoy/

  3. January 4, 2012 4:27 pm

    When I was first married, we had a rough winter in Rhode Island followed by a sudden and wonderful late spring in Pensacola, which has had us singing “Pensacola” from Dames at Sea ever since (“do you remember Pensacola? Sultry desire, passion on fire, under the moon…”) I think an element of ridiculousness adds to a love song.

  4. January 4, 2012 5:22 pm

    The only love song I can think of is something you used last year (I think): The Book Of Love (is long and boring)

  5. January 4, 2012 5:23 pm

    Night & Day reminds me of when I first met my husband – he wrote it out in longhand for me.

  6. January 4, 2012 7:41 pm

    I was in the pit for Cabaret once, but we were clothed, and IN THE PIT. 🙂

    How about Neil Diamond’s Delirious Love?

  7. January 4, 2012 8:47 pm

    I love the Pineapple Song! DJ and I sing it to Reilly, of course. I think he loves it too.

  8. January 5, 2012 2:14 am

    Himself quoted lines from Losing My Mind (Follies) in his first letter to me the summer after we met (‘The sun comes up, I think about you’), which makes it ‘our’ song but I’d have to go with the musical Metropolis: If It’s Only Love (should it be enough to break my heart) for a pure unabashed love song.

    Then again, I quite like the sentiment from A Man Of No Importance — you just have to love who you love….

    (Best thing we’ve ever seen at Lincoln Center, slightly disappointed with The Arts production in London).

  9. January 8, 2012 3:41 pm

    I know one couple who used lines from “Losing My Mind” in their marriage vows –

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