New Song: Love Is a Sickness

Here’s our new song, Love Is a Sickness

I finished the 1992 section of my book during the first week of January, and since then I’ve been trying to get a handle on what comes next. I began this project with a sense of where the book ends and an outline for part one, but no outline for the rest of it. I’ve spent the past few weeks writing about the book instead of writing the book, and when I finally started actually writing part two we were barraged with snow and its evil companion: snow days. I’ve missed a lot of writing days as a result, but I’m still scribbling in my notebook and thinking about it, and it’s becoming clearer. 

It’s been great to have songwriting as a tool for figuring out what comes next. The book picks up eight (or maybe even a bit more—still not totally sure) years after part one ends, so the character has changed. I thought if we could write a couple of songs for Johanna for part two I would be able to get a handle on who she is eight years later. And I was right. I wrote one that we haven’t recorded yet, and then I came up with the lyrics for “Love Is a Sickness.” Apologies to Samuel Daniel, who coined this phrase in the 16th century. 

Actually, first I came up with the lyrics to a very goofy song. It was kind of a country song about hooking back up with a high school boyfriend, with references to both a pickup truck and The Wall. This was only last week but it’s already embarrassing to think about it. Eventually I salvaged two lines from it and came up with this, which feels like a soliloquy to me and even has a big fat metaphor, which I have not tried since my college poetry attempts. I was originally singing it pretty much to the tune of “Famous Blue Raincoat.” It took me a while to notice that. The meter is identical. Andrew took it over and kept some of that feel while changing the melody some and adding melodies I love to the pre-chorus and chorus. 

The exciting thing about this song for me is that it actually led to plot. The character who this song is written about gets angry about the way he’s depicted in it and does something rash. It’s going to be pivotal, and I can’t wait. It has me eager to write to that plot point, which means I’ve found a little momentum for this next phase of the project. 

One more thing, since it is Grammy night, or as I prefer to call it, The Most Boring Night of the Year. Andrew insists we watch it. He is still obsessed with Bonnie Raitt’s performance at the 1992 Grammys, when she sat on a stool in front of a grand piano and Bruce Hornsby accompanied her as she sang “I Can’t Make You Love Me.” I was surprised by how simple Andrew wound up making the arrangement, but it makes me think of that performance. He’s also a big fan of Adele’s “Someone Like You,” which has a similar arrangement and restraint. The vocal on our track feels exposed to me, but that was the point. 

Andrew is working on a project website that will include lyrics to all the songs, but since the lyrics come quickly in this one, I’m putting them here for now: 

Love Is a Sickness

You know what I like and you’re happy to give it
If you took it away, you know I’d barely miss it
That’s no way to live, I can hear someone say 
You can’t win the game if you don’t even play 
I played once, I played hard, I gave up all control
What I lost, in the end, was most of my soul
And the fragment that’s left I’ve encased in hard plastic
It’s locked and alarmed, which I know is quite drastic

Just leave it alone, it will all turn out fine
I’m not yours, you’re not mine, we’re just spending some time

What I love about you is you’re always around
What I love about you is you can’t let me down

Love is a sickness, I’ve had all the symptoms
Increasing heart rate and narrowing vision
A need to crawl inside of the lover’s skin
A feeling that life is about to begin
But with you I feel well, there’s no shortness of breath
I like how you touch me, I like how you laugh
I have to leave now, you’ll probably stay here
But maybe I’ll see you sometime next year

If you’re gone it’s okay, I’ll find someone new
Though no one’s as easy to be with as you

What I love about you is you’re always around
What I love about you is you can’t let me down

What I love about you is you’re always around
What I love about you is you can’t let me down