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What Is Love? These Classic Songs Finally Give Us The Answer

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In 1993, Haddaway asked the age-old question: “What Is Love?”.  It was a question asked by Foreigner in the 1980s with “I Want To Know What Love Is”.  As it turns out, we may be able to finally arrive at an answer by following the clues provided by musicians in the 1960s through the 1980s.

Everyone from Andy Gibb to Pat Benatar have been telling us for decades; so, it’s now up to us to put the pieces together and, at last, truly know what love is.

(1) Love is thicker than water and higher than a mountain

Andy Gibb – “Love Is (Thicker Than Water)”

Andy Gibb doesn’t straight-up tell us what love is; instead, he provides us with a few qualities.  First, it’s thicker than water – so I guess we can presume love is the consistency of pudding.  It’s also higher than a mountain… so it’s this pudding-like substance in the sky.

We’re on the right track. Next…

(2) Love is the answer

England Dan & John Ford Coley – “Love Is The Answer”


This is a great song, but it isn’t very helpful.  We’re looking for the answer to “what is love?” and we’re getting back that it’s the answer.  Well, thanks a helluva lot England Dan and JFC, thanks for nothing.

But let’s not give up hope this early.  On to the next clue…

(3) Love is Brian Ferry’s drug of choice

Roxy Music – “Love Is The Drug”

Brian Ferry tells us: “Love is the drug I’m thinking of. Oh, can’t you see, Love is the drug for me.”

So, love is Ferry’s favorite drug.  But this doesn’t really get us closer to the answer – we just know Ferry is all about this love business.

(4) Love is blue in color

Claudine Longet – “Love Is Blue”

Claudine Longet sings the Paul Mauriat classic, and gives us a critical piece of information: the color of love.  But, of course, Claudine would go on to commit murder, so can she be trusted?

(5) Love is freaking everywhere

The Troggs – “Love Is All Around”

The lads that gave us “Wild Thing” explain that love is all around us, it’s even “written on the wind”
and “everywhere I go.”

So, Andy Gibb tells us it’s higher than a mountain, and the Troggs say it’s everywhere.  Are we getting closer to the answer?  Not really – but let’s proceed…

(6) Love is a living organism

Gary Wright – “Love Is Alive”

Gary “Dream Weaver” Wright states that love is alive.  Okay.  I suppose that narrows things down a bit.

(7) Love is all kinds of awesome things 

Nat King Cole – “Love Is A Many Splendored Thing”

Numerous crooners count this song in their catalog (Sinatra, Andy Williams, Johnny Mathis, Englebert, Humperdinck, etc.), but what does this classic tell us?  Love is all kinds of greatness: “Love is a many splendored thing, It’s the April rose that only grows in the early Spring, Love is nature’s way of giving a reason to be living”.

Well, this certainly sounds poetic and flowery, but it’s about as helpful as England Dan & John Ford Coley.  Let’s move on…

(8) Love is a goddamn war zone

Pat Benatar – “Love Is A Battlefield”

We’ve heard such good things about love so far: it’s the drug, it’s a many splendored thing, etc. Now Pat tells us it’s a battlefield.  Go figure.

(9) Again, love is freaking everywhere

John Paul Young – “Love Is In The Air”

Written by the big brother of Angus and Malcolm Young of AC/DC, we have confirmation of The Troggs’ assertion that love is indeed all around. Young tells us that “Love is in the air everywhere I look around,
Love is in the air every sight and every sound.”

(10) And once again, love is all over the place

Mary Tyler Moore Theme – “Love Is All Around”

The intro to the Mary Tyler Moore underlines the notion that, whatever love is, it’s all over the place.

(11) Love is an atmospheric element

Sweet – “Love Is Like Oxygen”

Sweet tells us specifically that love will get you high, affirming Roxy Music’s claim that it’s a drug.  It’s also yet another description of love as some ubiquitous atmospheric component all around us.

(12) Love is okay, I guess for the time being

Rick Springfield – “Love Is Alright Tonight”

Okay, this isn’t helpful at all.

I think it’s best we stop here.  We could look to other artists, but I’m afraid they’ll just muddy the waters even more.  Frank Sinatra says “Love Is (A Tender Trap)”, The Everly Brothers tell us “Love Is Strange”, Earth Wind & Fire claim “Love Is Life”, and Joan Baez says “Love Is Just A Four Letter Word”.

I think, in the end, there’s no concrete answer to the question posed by Haddaway and Foreigner.  I’ll leave it to The Beatles, who said it best: the love you take is equal to the love you make… and love is all you need.

  • jon pall

    I actually thought Love Stinks, but you’ve changed my mind.

  • njguy54

    Thanks for the throwbacks. A couple of others to consider: “Is This Love?” by Whitesnake and “What is Love?” by Howard Jones.

    • Princessofmirth

      I just came here to add Ho Jo but you already did. Great minds…

  • Freakanatcha

    Perhaps Ms. Longet should have done a cover of the Everly Bros.”Love Hurts”

  • mournblade1066

    Roxy Music is awesome–definitely should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. That said, what the hell is going on with Brian Ferry’s eye?

  • docjmcg2

    love stinks and love hurts don’t forget