When I Think of “In My Life”

Scroll down to watch the video for “When I Think of Love.”

My song “When I Think of Love” was prompted by a line from the Beatles — a couplet from “In My Life” that always puzzled me: “And these memories lose their meaning/When I think of love as something new.” Was John Lennon thinking of love as something new, or just experiencing new love? And, more importantly, do the memories truly lose their meaning? The music belies that assertion. And does the love object, introduced in the second half of the song, undercut the strong mood of nostalgia and longing established in the first half?

Like a dog deconstructing a bone, I worried all this down to the nub. Eventually I stole “When I think of love as something new” and made it into a new song. But what began as an intellectual exercise soon became a personal and cosmic meditation on romantic love.

Like a clip from “An Affair to Remember” showing up in “Sleepless From Seattle,” quoting a beloved song in a new song invites the listener to find the many ways the new song falls short. In my defense, the purpose of my song is altogether different. “In My Life” is a nostalgic look back from the perspective of a young man in the throes of new love; my song is a look back from the perspective of a much older man at a long and lasting love.

The music for “When I Think of Love” does draw its inspiration from the Beatles, but also from the Beach Boys and the Association, with rich vocal harmony and counterpoint, mixed with murky baritone guitar and tinkly vibes. The structure nods to early ‘60s pop songs, with a literally repeated “middle 8.” To sing it with me, I brought in Sean Altman and Paul F. Perry. In addition to the harmonies, Paul doubles me in the verses, giving it a timbral ambiguity, and Sean provides the high vocal obbligato in the last verse. 

Also, there’s a harpsichord solo. 

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