Maybe we do need another love song
There’s been an inordinate amount of talk lately (including on this very blog) about the dismal marriage rates and future marriage outlook for black women as well as the related breakdown of the black family. A number of theories have been proposed about why this is occurring that I won’t bother to rehash here. But one simple theory seems to have been overlooked. While I was in the shower with old school songs playing in the background, in the time it took me to shower, wash my hair, rinse and repeat, I devised a theory that there may just be a direct correlation between the rate of marriage in the black community and the number of songs about love at the top of the R&B charts. This might sound a little flaky, but hear me out.
I believe that it’s been established that music can have a profound impact on the psyches of those who listen to it. Thus all the hubbub over the years about the impact that violence and objectification of women may be having on children and teenagers. But all the focus on what is being pumped into teens heads has diverted attention away from what isn’t being drilled into their heads.
I did a highly unscientific analysis of the songs that topped the charts over the decades. If I had the energy I’d collect a statistically valid data set and develop some more accurate illustrative graphs and charts. But in lieu of that kind of time and dedication I’ve developed the rough sketch of what I think the numbers would pan out like below.
The decline in the number of love songs made may only be one of many contributing factors into the undeniable decline in marriage in the black community, (other possible contributing factors include but are not limited to slavery, global warming, trans fats, reality television, high fructose corn syrup, and Karinne Steffans), but I think this is a trend that shouldn’t be ignored. Of course this data (and I’m using the word data kinda loosely here) begs the question as to whether the music is a cause of or an effect of the breakdown in the quality and quantity of committed relationships. Afterall it’s hard to write a song about deep romantic love if you’ve never seen or experienced it. Or perhaps society’s appetite for songs touting the virtues of love has declined thus the artists are no longer compelled to make the songs. Clearly I haven’t put that much thought into my theory yet. But perhaps someone with more time and better access to the Billboard top 100 lists through the years should do a more accurate analysis to see if there may be something we’re missing here.
It would take up too much space to post the lyrics of a sampling of songs from the 1960s through 2010 but it would be obvious if I did that the lyrics of the songs from the 60s to today would show a steady decline in references to romantic love, commitment, or how to show love to another person and a steady increase in references to randomly hooking up, getting it in, and creeping.
One could infer that if you grew up in the sixties, by the time you were in your twenties you had been fed a healthy dose of messages about the virtues of romantic love and having a one and only. So much so, that you were practically programmed to seek this out for yourself as soon as possible. Whereas if you grew up in the 80s or nineties it’s likely that your idea of an adequate courtship is a meal at the Waffle House after the club.
Clearly my informal study only scratches the surface. To get more accurate information I’d have to look at not only chart topping songs, but all songs in heavy rotation. And I’d have to listen to the lyrics and the message and devise some type of criteria for what constitutes a message about romantic love. That’s way to much work for a blog post. However, if some entity is willing to pay me to do the research and compose an in-depth analysis I’m more than willing to oblige. Ahem….Yeah so the homework from todays post is for everyone to think back about how many songs they remember from their respective formative years about being in love….This does NOT include songs about making love, knocking boots or any derivative thereof. I don’t think there’s any shortage of that happening today.