We’re two weeks past Valentine’s Day, and the Love Symposium is over, which means it’s just about time for me to chime in with some sap. It has been my experience — and I claim neither uniqueness nor normalness — that, in a relationship or out of one, I spend most of my time not in love, but brief moments falling deeply into it. In a relationship, for example, most of the time love is about affection and protection and support and such things that form the foundations of good relationship, but occasionally, often unexpectedly, it becomes about passion and butterflies in the stomach. Falling in love is ephemeral, but it is eternally returning.
Most of the time I am all but allergic to the saccharine, but in moments of in-loveness, I suddenly find sappy songs impossible to resist. It’s as though somewhere in my brain there’s a sappiness center, and when I start to get those butterflies in my stomach it gets switched on. And so I listen to songs like the one at the top of the post.
Or that one. That song, by the way, is a live version of this. The studio version is so incredibly sappy that I couldn’t bring myself to post it. But I can tell you this: falling in love? I’m going to listen to it.
Schneider, by the way, is sort of the elder statesman of the Austin rock scene. I know what you’re thinking, “That’s rock?” Well, those who’ve been around Austin for a while will remember his old band, The Scabs, who did songs like this (NOT SAFE FOR WORK!) and this (also NOT SAFE FOR WORK!). They were the raunchiest band in Austin. This is one of their few safe for work songs:
Anyway, Schneider solo is pretty much pure sap. I mean:
I wanna sink to the bottom of the ocean
And lie there with you ’til I’m gone,
At the bottom of the big blue sea, just you and me.
Schneider reminds me a bit of another artist who frequently wades into sappier seas:
It might not be a happy song, but damn is it a sappy one. Really, with that voice, Lamontagne can’t help it. His voice sounds like someone put high fructose corn syrup in some cheap whiskey. Which, if you’re in the mood for it, is a good thing. Just don’t consume too much:
Schneider and Lamontagne have nothing on the next sap-prone artist, though. He may be the king:
He’s so good at it you might think he invented the genre. And that voice, how to describe it? It’s like a sharp object that cuts through the notes instead of passing over them. It may have been genetically engineered to tug at heart strings.
I know, however, that Gray didn’t invent the sappy song, because growing up I heard this (by one of my Mother’s favorite artists) a lot:
Sappiest. Song. Ever. Though there’s always this:
Ugh, I fear at this point I might have given the impression that the sappy song is the sole province of male artists. Nothing could be further from the truth:
As you can hear, sappiness is gender neutral.
I wish I could take something that all of these songs have in common, other than love, and love for a particular person, and define sappiness. They share certain elements, of course: clear vocals at the center of the song, simple melodies, slow rhythms, but there’s something else that I can’t put my finger on. I just know it when I hear it. Maybe if there were more songs, I could figure it out, but I think I’ve reached my sap limit. I’m confident, however, that you folks will be able to give me some more in comments. Maybe we can sort out what sappiness is.
Extra points for a song that is sappier than “Time in a Bottle.”