If, one day, space aliens ponder the history of histrionic, twentieth-century love songs, they will wonder whether the Anglo-American world went completely mad in the postwar period. Boys particularly seem to have been in some form of competition to claim the most complete and greatest love of all, and oftentimes it got pretty squirrelly. Listen to the Righteous Brothers claim: “Without you, baby, what good am I?/You’re my reason for laughing/For crying, for living, and for dying.” Huh? You’re my reason for dying? Is this what a girl wants to hear? Let’s start by doubting this claim: in the first place, no one has a reason for dying. In fact, it’s entirely unreasonable and quite mad that we start dying on the day of our birth. You can’t choose it. No one ever wished to be born. (Or, if you’re in an emo mood, you might cheat and claim your parents as your reason for dying, but, remember: they weren’t acting reasonably when they conceived you.) So perhaps the love-struck Brothers Righteous are saying: you’re the only reason I continue with this suffering called life. Yes, “you’re my reason for living.” Without you, in other words, I’ll kill myself. Again, just what a girl wants to hear. Now she’s been made hyper-responsible for the continued existence of this big lump on the couch. So as soon as you hear a boy break into song, don’t try to be reasonable. Laugh.
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