The following is a paper that I wrote for English class and I thought it was a pretty good examination of love (plus it includes a Regina Spektor quote and a Jars of Clay song).
What is love? Copperlily described love as a legend that you can’t undo, House of Heroes said it was only for the middle class and Regina Spektor once sang that Love is a whore. So what is it? I’m not sure if you can boil it down to a single word or phrase, however I am sure that love has been twisted and many lies concerning love have been accepted. When we think of a love song, we think of a song that is happy, cute, has at least six to thirteen “awe” moments, and perhaps a chuckle or two (because we all know love makes us perpetually chuckle). But I think when we take a honest look at love, there is a lot more there and that upon honestly looking at love, we gain a better appreciation for what love is. I believe a song that accurately portrays a honest look at love is Jars of Clay’s “Mirrors and Smoke”.
I chose “Mirrors and Smoke”, not only because of its content, but because I’ve had to explain the meaning of the song many times to people. The first time I had to explain it was when I was listening to it with my then girlfriend. At the end of the song I said “Isn’t that an awesome love song?” and with confusion in her eyes she responded “That’s not a love song”. When I asked her why it wasn’t a love song she told me it was because it wasn’t a happy song. She said the guy seemed miserable and the girl didn’t seem too happy either. She also pointed out that there was no “lovey-doviness”. Therefore it could not have been a love song. I responded “What made the song a true love song, was that it did lack the “lovey-doviness” . I told her that the honesty was what showed that they truly loved each other.
In the first verse the guy says “You know it’s love that keeps me silent, it’s my silence you detest.” This is talking about the way society has painted the picture that a couple is not allowed to disagree and how people do not always want to hear the truth. He wants to be honest with the girl about how he feels, but he knows it would upset her. On the other side though, the girl wants him to be honest. She wants to hear what he has to say.
In the second verse the guy says “I give you flowers, give you candy to even out the guilt. I send you greeting cards with messages that I could never write.” With this he’s talking about, how love has become less personal. He’s buying her all of these things to try to make up for the fact that he isn’t the perfect guy that society says he should be. I think the part about the greeting cards is awesome as well. He is taking the easy way out. He’s afraid that he couldn’t write her anything that would bring a smile to her face, make her feel special, or bring her any of the feelings that love is supposed to bring to someone. So instead, he goes and buys a mass-produced card that has zero personal touch and then gives it to her.
After listening to the first half of the song the listener would be really wondering what makes this a love song. The answer to that comes in the fourth verse. Throughout the song the phrase “Rivers flow into the ocean, and oceans never fill” keeps reappearing. The guy is likening rivers and the ocean to love. He is saying that if rivers constantly flowing into the ocean can never fully satisfy the ocean then, how can he ever fully satisfy her. In the fourth verse, however, the girl responds by saying “Rivers never fill the oceans, but oceans always feel the waters reaching deep inside them, I guess they always will.” The girl explains to him that love is not about a destination and that isn’t something that you just achieve. It’s about always trying your best and always becoming better at it.
Upon the conclusion of the song, I believe that the listener sees love in a different way. Not the flashiness that is often presented but the honesty and hard work that it takes to sustain a relationship.