Is This Love

First of all, let me head off your immediate question: “Is This Love” is not a Bob Marley cover. The first Bob Marley song on my list would probably be “Redemption Song”, anyway, since I don’t think Wyclef quite nailed it in the 9/11 “Concert for Heroes”.

While I actually wrote this song several months ago, it seemed like a natural fit for this week, since I just watched (and loved) “Be Here to Love Me”, a documentary about Townes Van Zandt. Townes was a genius of a songwriter, and a dud in just about every other category (father, husband, etc.). The doc is pretty well-balanced, including some amazing performance footage and some heart-wrenching interviews with his children, who have very ambivalent feelings towards their legendary pa. Check it out, in any case… all we songwriters could spend the rest of our lives trying to write a song as magical and mysterious as Townes’s “High, Low and In Between”.

In this song, I’m trying to keep it simple. A very classic form, and not many chords at all. I wanted to write a song that someone could come down from Mars and know what to do with. Just play that sucker and it’ll fit you just fine. Like an old t-shirt.

As soon as I started laying down the guitar part, however, my dirtier impulses came charging forth, and before I knew it, it sounded like Townes Van Zandt via the Stone Roses, or Oasis, or the beginning of “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth”. Ah, what can you do. I gotta be me, I guess. And I’m someone who loves AmpliTube (see last week’s post).

Lyrically, this song is about what Dr. Jennifer Melfi might call “amour fou”: a crazy-making love. A love that bleeds right into obsession, suicide, double murder, the whole nine. So in that sense, it’s a classic American folk song, one for all you Harry Smith/Greil Marcus types. I hope it gives you a good fright and turns you on at the same time. Then will I have earned my week’s compensation.

15 Responses to “Is This Love”
  1. Marcia says:

    It sounds dirty…I love it!

  2. Abraham says:

    thanks! yes, summer is a good time to get dirty.

  3. detholz says:

    Yet another in a growing catalog of excellent “B”-free songs!

    “…B, I think you’ve been abused.”

    This one’s a hit, A. LOVE the 3-note chorus!

  4. Abraham says:

    right on!!! I consider that bridge-like section a “B” section, the “heaven knows I never had anyone” part. but it is very short. and yeah… three notes in a chorus? who ever heard of such a thing?

  5. Jerry Grit says:

    I’m hearing some Ray Davies and maybe some Hollies influence here (especially “Long Cool Woman” when you go falsetto). And it also kind of reminds me of that great PJ Harvey song “This is Love.” You bring it all together and serve it up in a nice package.

    And I’m sorry we missed your show with the Dollar Store. I had no idea it was scheduled so early (6pm? not even prime time). By the time we got there, the H/O was closed up for a Lollapalooza (I hate this word) afterparty. Hope you scored with Amy Winehouse.

  6. Jonny Mess says:

    I know that this comment is going to categorize me in ways I don’t wish to be categorized, but here it is: This song makes me feel very, very stoned. In a good way. I like the fade-out, too, a smart way to end a song about obsession (the song ends, the mania continues).

    Jerry: The Dollar Store is at 7pm! It’s Chicago’s Wheel of Fortune.

  7. crrl says:

    love this one. love it. i love bluesy shit.

    you put the moniker “abraham” in the file tag instead of baby teeth. which made my scrobbler come up with this beautiful blond lass from england who also calls herself “abraham”

  8. Abraham says:

    jerry grit: ray davies is always in my head, as well as “bus stop” by the hollies. what about “sunshine superman” by donovan? I don’t know the PJ harvey song you’re referencing, but pretty much that whole “to bring you my love” record could be factored in here… and yeah, dollar stores are at 7 pm! kee-razy!

    jonny mess: I think that’s rad! because it’s a feeling, right? on when they were talking about this song they referenced neil young, and that’s the same ballpark, I think. “the song ends, the mania continues”: a better title for my memoirs I could not fathom…. I’m keepin’ that one!

    crrl: thank you brother. makes me feel good. that link to “abraham” made my day. that is really really funny!!!

  9. Judah says:

    Good call re: PJ Harvey. I smell a duet…

    Another hit, Abe — your consistency is remarkable. You must be on composition-enhancing drugs. Please let the rest of us know where we can procure them.

    It’s impressive that you reply to all of these comments. That generosity in and of itself could’ve served as a flimsy excuse for weaker songwriting (“sorry, I guess I was just too wrapped up with the whole blog thing to write any good tunes…”)

  10. Abraham says:

    thanks judah, that’s very kind. oddly enough, I was putting a t-shirt in the mail for you just as you left that comment.

    I’m sure I will use that excuse at some point in the next year, so thanks for mapping it out in advance!

  11. Dan Metiv says:

    Right now I’m sitting in my attic sweating in my underwear thinking how this song fits my in-brain-video for my current surroundings.

    It makes my want to live in a dusty place in the south…

    I like it lots.

  12. Abraham says:

    thanks brother. the south is definitely where you can just marinate with two or three chords for hours on end.

  13. Peter says:

    This one doesn’t do much for me on the first couple of listens. I think maybe I’d like it more if it wasn’t done up so electric-rock sounding. For me it’d probably be more appealing as an acoustic guitar song with some non-drum-set percussion. Something a’la Led Zeppelin III maybe. As you and Jim both know I can have my mind changed by a persuasive opinion in the other direction, but this gets a bit lower of a vote for me.

  14. Abraham says:

    hmmm…. I dunno. doing it as an acoustic ditty would take some of the torment out of it for me. we’ll have to slug it out!

  15. An all ’round well thought out blog!!!

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