September 25

Why I don’t write love songs for my wife


“Hey, honey, I have a new song. Do you want to hear it?”

“Sure. Is it a love song for me?”

“Uh… Nope.”

This happens all the time. Well, it used to happen all the time. My wife has stopped asking me that question now, because she knows it’s not going to happen.

Why, you ask? Well, it’s not because I don’t love her, certainly. And it’s not because I’m jaded and like to write sad, ironic or angry songs rather than sweet ones (OK, that is a part of it, but still…).

Do you know that feeling when you just want to listen to sad songs? Or sarcastic or angry? That feeling when the music you listen to just has to have something negative about it? Maybe it’s just me, but a lot of times I just want doom and gloom. That doesn’t mean I’m feeling depressed or anything. Not at all – in fact, I tend to find that sad songs make me very happy. I’m sure you know what I mean.

And I tend to write those things. But I used to write the odd love song with genuine feeling behind it. Not anymore though! And there’s a story behind it.

It all goes back to my ex girlfriend, actually. I got involved with this girl, and I was just crazy about her. She was really cool, and a little bit dark and brooding and all the things that I was into at the time. We used to drink and party a LOT. I was madly in love, of course.

Now, like many people in Iceland, she suffered from seasonal depression. The winters here can be pretty tough. In December, we get about 3 hours of sunlight per day, so you can imagine the toll that can take on a lot of people. I’ve never understood who came up with the bright idea of settling on this island to begin with.

“Hey, look, it’s a giant rock in the middle of the Atlantic, windy, wet and cold, with almost no summer and complete blackness during the winter. Sign me up!”

(OK, there’s good stuff here as well, but still… The darkness gets depressing.)

But I digress.

This girl got super depressed when we had been together for a few months and I didn’t see her for a whole month. We’d message back and forth, but she said she was too depressed to do stuff. So being a gentleman (and somewhat of an enabler) I said no problem and gave her the space she wanted.

Then one day I got a message from her. “Can I come over tonight?”

I was ecstatic, of course. I had missed her. So I sat around thinking about her and looking forward to the evening. Took a shower (rare in those days – I was a brooding poet and songwriter, with greasy long hair, smoking two packs a day – it was all about image). And I sat down to write a song about how I felt.

The song turned out pretty good, I thought. You can listen to it and tell me what you think.

I finished the song very quickly. I played it a few times and loved it. I recorded a demo of it and decided to play it for my girl when she came over.

And that’s where the whole thing fell apart.

So she came over. I was so happy to see her. And then she dumped me. Just like that. I was a mess, of course.

So that was the last real, honest, genuine love song I wrote. For a girl who promptly kicked me to the curb.

And now she’s dead.

Don’t worry, the two are not related. (She was in a tragic accident a few years ago, and I hadn’t seen her for years when that happened.)

So after that, when my wife asks me when I’m going to write her a love song, the answer is always the same:

“I’m never doing that, honey. Because I really like you, and I don’t want you to dump me and die.”

Of course, that’s not to say my feelings for my wife don’t influence my writing. They certainly do, as all feelings do. But I tend to put a somewhat ironic spin on things these days. So if I have a song about love, I’ll make it end tragically. Or twist it into some kind of forbidden or unwise love. I guess I find it more interesting, but also, I think that incident with my ex made me a bit superstitious about the whole thing. Judge me if you will.

That breakup has inspired some songs, too. Of course, I tend to put a spin on those as well. That relationship didn’t last very long, and although I was crazy about her, I got over it. But to this day I like to draw on those feelings and exaggerate them a bit. Again, it goes back to that love of sad songs. There’s just something about a song that takes you to a dark place and then brings you safely back. I suppose it’s catharsis – a cleansing of sorts. I get a similar feeling from watching horror films and riding roller coasters.

After that girl died I wrote a song based on our relationship, and some thoughts I had after finding out about her death. It felt so weird that this person, who I only knew very briefly, was just gone. Of course, she had already been gone from my life for years, but there was still that odd feeling of finality that hadn’t been there before. So I wrote a short and sad song, exaggerated the whole thing a bit, of course, and eventually I put it on my album, A Bottle Full of Dreams. I’d love for you to give it a listen and tell me what you think.

Lastly I just want to thank you again for your interest in my stuff. I hope you enjoy the songs. I also hope you’ll consider picking up a copy of my album. It took me about a decade to finally get out there, and I’m really proud of it. And of course, if you do buy a copy it’s a great support to me and my career (being a professional singer-songwriter is not the easiest job in the world, but possibly the best one) and I am eternally grateful to everybody who makes a purchase.

I really appreciate you for being here. Thank you, and we’ll talk later.

Folk on!
Eyvindur Karlsson


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  • Thanks for sharing, I get this.
    I believe melancholic melodies make happy people a little ill at ease, while comforting those of us that are a little broken.

    Keep making music that speaks your language!

    • I know what you mean, but I’m not sure… I know a lot of people who are quite happy who love sad songs (at least some of the time). My wife being one of them. She’s a huge Nick Cave fan and loves a bit of melancholy.

      I think that people who get uncomfortable with sad songs might actually not be happy. I think it might make them uncomfortable because there’s something they haven’t dealt with.

      Or not. I don’t know. I haven’t slept much.

      Anyway. Thank you so much. Don’t be a stranger. 🙂
      Folk on.

      • mmm…. how about:
        ‘sad songs disturb humans who insist on blocking out negativity’
        …. kinda their loss not to let in a little darkness you know?
        To quote a legend – we all know ‘there is a crack in everything…. that’s how the light gets in’ 🙂

        sleeping’s overrated

  • also write a lot of dark and twisted songs so i get it…and like you i am not a depressed person though i am quite cynical…i had a strange and wild life and i tend to write songs about people i have met or known on the road…junkies whores thieves and wild men…and free spirits just looking for a place to be…the broken..the saved..the strong..the weak..the funny..the sad..and the list goes on and on…i also rarely write a love song, tho i would have plenty of material..been married 3 ive found that love is a strange elusive thing that i have never really understood..anyway.. like your stuff..just keep on doing you

    • Thanks, man. So happy you like my stuff. Yeah, there’s something about the broken things, isn’t there? Perfection in imperfection is what always gets me.

      Folk on, my friend! Later.

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