Can you love too much?

I’ve been listening to Crowded House’s Woodface again for the last few days. I like doing that, balancing some of the classics with the new releases. And Woodface stands up so well from 1991; it’s that kind of beautiful lament that just makes me think of Paul Hester whenever I hear it. And there’s a lyric in Fall At Your Feet that gets to me every time I hear it.

The finger of blame has turned upon itself
And I’m more than willing to offer myself
Do you want my presence or need my help
Who knows where that might lead

A lot of people think Fall At Your Feet is a love song, and it is, but it’s more than that as well. I’ve always thought of it as a song of hurt and rejection. It’s about a man who wants to be there for the woman he loves, but she won’t let him in and he’s not sure how to deal with it. I’ve always related to that. I remember when Crowded House gave their farewell performance at the Opera House, hearing Fall At Your Feet was just mesmerising and it was one of the first times I’d heard it (and heard it properly) in years. That’s just like me, right, to become a fan just when the band breaks up? But it meant a lot to me because 1996 was a difficult year. I wasn’t well for a lot of that year and I was school prefect as well, and a few of my friendships fell apart. Fall At Your Feet just seemed to connect in a way that few songs ever have for me.

I think one of the reasons was that this idea of love wasn’t the glossy version that everyone else seemed fascinated with. I’ve never bought into this idea of “The One” or that you’re meant to be with someone; I can see why people like that idea, but to me it’s like you’re focusing on this idea of a person that might never become real. Love doesn’t work that way; you might truly love someone, but just because you do doesn’t mean it will be returned. And you might miss someone you’re more compatible with because you’re not looking.

I don’t like getting too personal with this blog, but I’ve said before that I think I’ve only ever been in love once. There’s no dramatic story, no awful ending. We were just there at the wrong times; like two ships sailing in the opposite directions, never in harbour at the same time. I don’t know if I’ll meet someone else like that again and I’m not too bothered if I don’t; it’d be nice, but I don’t define myself by who I’m with. I know that doesn’t sound romantic but I don’t get caught up in infatuations. I don’t think I love too much.

Some people do. I think some people fall in love so hard, love someone so much that it blinds them to everything else. They don’t see when things start to go wrong; they don’t see when they aren’t compatible, or when they’re following the same doomed pattern; they don’t see (or want to believe) that it can be better to be apart than to continue living a lie. I think that’s one of the reasons the divorce rate is so high and why people get hurt.

JK Rowling seems to agree with me as well. Her revelation that Dumbledore is gay is still causing all kinds of debate (which is still ridiculous), but the part I found interesting was this. “…do we say it excused Dumbledore a little more because falling in love can blind us to an extent? But, he met someone as brilliant as he was, and rather like Bellatrix he was very drawn to this brilliant person, and horribly, terribly let down by him. Yeah, that’s how I always saw Dumbledore.” I still think what Rowling has done with Dumbledore is brilliant; to quote Mark Harris, she’s turned Dumbledore purple, demystified it, and in the process made Dumbledore and our favourite uncle and our next-door neighbour just as normal as everyone else. But even more so, she’s made him a tragic figure. Love blinded him; he couldn’t see what Grindelwald really was. And I think that applies just as much to all of us.

How often do we wonder how history might have been different had something changed? If JFK hadn’t died? If Israel and Palestine had agreed to peace a decade ago? And the king of them all – what if Adolf Hitler hadn’t existed? Would WWII still have happened? Most likely; it would have been a different war, but what must it have been like to have known Hitler, maybe to have liked him or even loved him as a child? Probably not that different to how it is for people now; in some cases love just blinds everything else.

That’s Rowling’s point, and that’s mine here as well. We’ve built up this idea of what love should be; that we should be swept off our feet, that we should feel a certain way, look a certain way, and not have doubts. We have to love a person completely and devote ourselves to them, and it’s a lovely notion but I can almost guarantee you it won’t work like that. For some people it might, possibly, but for most of us it’ll only be a let down. And while we still cling to this idea of “The One” and pop music and movies (fun as they might be!) continue to perpetuate it, we’ll only continue to be broken-hearted.

So that’s why I’m enjoying rediscovering Woodface again. Listening to it now it’s almost a lament for what we’ve lost. But it’s also hopeful; it celebrates the beauty of love, and love is a truly beautiful thing: two hearts, two souls, two minds, side by side. If you know what it is and you’re lucky enough to have it – the love of a lover, or a child, or a friend – then love is amazing. If you have time, maybe you could look up Woodface, or at least Fall At Your Feet. Who knows, if you’re falling in love, it might be your song. 🙂