How creepy is this? The singing male lover pretends to reassure the female that she is fully lovable “just the way you are”; she needn’t worry about measuring up to some standard. But he’s actually sending the most threatening message imaginable:
(1) if you differ by one iota from the love-object that I’m loving right now,
(2) if my feelings change one iota from what I’m feeling at the moment,
then you’re toast, lovewise. Meanwhile you’d better hope that present conditions last (and everyone knows they don’t).
And by the way, thanks for being so eager to please.
Maybe the most significant and encouraging point here is that while there are popular songs that use the trope (Billy Joel, Bruno Mars, Frank Sinatra’s “The Way You Look Tonight”), there is no rock song that uses it — there couldn’t be, because no one could rock that thought. Rock dynamism crashes right through it. Rock lovers are always exploding their egg casings. In a rock context, “just the way you are” would be too stupid and dull even if it weren’t too manipulative and imprisoning.
(Set against this Felix’s explosive discovery that he’s in love with not just any girl but “a girl like you . . . exactly like you” [The Young Rascals, “A Girl Like You,” 1967]).
I think that this relation between love and rock is one of the noblest things about rock.
Corollary: when entertaining a stereotype about sexuality in rock (probably male swagger), don’t forget that rock is always blowing that up.
How can love be rocked? In physical adventure (“I want to hold your hand”), expansive satisfaction (“I’m picking up good vibrations”), uncompromising idealism (“if you love somebody, set them free”), self-doubt (“maybe I shouldn’t think of you as mine”), self-laceration (“take another little piece of my heart”), and above all in stubborn persistence in trying. Here’s a number by Bryan Adams and Tina Turner that has all the right elements of non-complacency, all the right blasts of heart-fury — a message of constant breaking up (because the way we were did not work) with an energy of unquenchable need and unstoppable attachment: