Rising country music star Maren Morris hit the number 1 spot on the Billboard chart earlier this year with “I Could Use a Love Song.” An every time I hear it, I think of it as pep talk for all those jaded, hopeless romantics still longing for love.
“Usually a drink will do the trick / Take the edge off quick, sitting in the dark / With a shared cigarette / Seeing eye-to-eye, and heart-to-heart / But maybe I’m just getting old / Used to work but now it don’t.”
Something about this rings true for listeners, as evidenced by its popularity. I think it’s because the lyrics touch on a truth many young women experience today. When we were younger in the dating scene, connection seemed easier. We hadn’t been hurt by love, and vulnerability didn’t seem as risky.
Perhaps that’s sometimes for the better—after all, we all know the combination of romantic feelings, drinking, and late nights Morris sings about sometimes leads to hookups and tragic consequences for our hearts and relationships. And yet, if we stay out of that easily exploitable territory of giving our bodies before commitment, sometimes breaking the ice with a little flirting and a brave whisper, “I really like you” is all a potential romance needs to get going.
Still, we often hold back, because we know too much. Morris sings on:
“I wish I didn’t know so much / I peeked behind the curtain / Now that magic rush /Feels like a trick that isn’t working / But I haven’t lost all hope yet / Yeah it’s hurting but it ain’t dead.”
For many, experience has wounded those idealistic hearts of ours. Countless first dates that fell flat, being ghosted and wondering why, heartaches from failed relationships, lack of clarity in dating, and the persistent wondering if we’ll ever find love--all these things can leave any woman feeling a little jaded. The walls of our hearts grow taller. We convince ourselves we’re fine without a man, but deep in our hearts, we still desire connection.
But Morris has an idea. She proposes a solution to help us restore that openness to love.
“I could use a love song / That takes me back, just like that / When it comes on / To a time when I wouldn’t roll my eyes / At a guy and a girl / Who make it work in a world / That for me so far just seems to go so wrong / Yeah I could use, I could use a love song.”
We’re all old enough to know we can’t expect love to look the way it does in movies or love songs. But we also know the feeling of romance good rom-coms or love songs can trigger—a boost of confidence that our own Joe Fox is indeed out there, ready and willing to bring us our favorite flowers when we’re sick, or a man who will tell you that he’ll always remember “the way you look tonight.”
When the journey toward love has seemed long and particularly arduous, sometimes that romantic trigger is what we need to jump back into reality. The genre doesn’t matter. If it reminds you that love is good and the risk of vulnerability is worth it, then it’s pointing toward something true.
If you--like so many of us--sometimes need help remembering this, we’ve prepared a playlist of love songs. In the words of Maya Angelou, may you “have enough courage to trust love one more time, and always one more time.”