Beau Weston is showing music videos about married life in class. There are many good country videos on the married life course. I am having trouble finding non-country songs about the married life course. Suggestions?
This has proven a rich and interesting discussion.
The main thing I have found is that country, and its cousins folk and bluegrass, are the popular music genres richest in songs in which people court, marry, raise their kids, help with their grandchildren, grow old, and die.
In the other popular genres - pop, rock, rap, hip-hop, rhythm and blues - it is hard find examples of songs that cover the full life cycle.
I think the main reason for the paucity of songs about marriage and the rest of your life in popular music is that popular music is mostly for young people. The audience for country music is a little older, and is more likely to be married with children, than is the population as a whole. Nonetheless, this small difference in the demographics of the audience is not enough, I think, to explain the wide disparity in content among the genres.
I note that when men write songs in which they imagine a future life together, they say something about how the family life they imagine will be paid for. This is less often the case in women's "imagining a family" songs.
The main point of this post: Country music is the place to look for songs about the full cycle of happy family life.
Below I reproduce the whole long dialogue with dialogue with friends, neighbors, students, and some professional colleagues, FYI. I would welcome additions and suggestions. I have interspersed comments and suggestions from others with my replies.
“Always” by Atlantic Starr
"Always" only gets as far as "let's make a family" - I don't think they are even married yet by the end of the song.
I can think of a bunch, but they're not universally positive about marriage. Of course, there are lots of country songs about d-i-v-o-r-c-e.
Oh, yeah - lots of good divorce songs. I have more songs for that week than I have days.
“Just the Two of Us” -Will Smith but that’s more about parenthood.
"Just the Two of Us" is a fine daddy song (a genre I particularly like). However, the kid doesn't get past early elementary school, and "it didn't work out for me and your mom."
Yea its a tough assignment. Most r&b love songs are about the chase or the wedding not the marriage.... I can think of songs about weddings but not marriages...go figure. I like "100 Years" but it's more about one man's journey through life than a couple's-- I suck at this...
I don't think it is you, I think it is a limitation of the target demographic for pop, rock, rap, and r&b.
Try April Barrows - " burning the toast for you" "my dream is you" & "an old stuffed sofa". Marc Cohn - "True Companion"
Thank you for April Barrows - I did not know her work. And you have me wondering whether there might be more life-cycle songs in jazz. However, she is just too obscure. YouTube only has a cover of "Burning the Toast for You" - a funny song, but it only gets as far as the honeymoon. The other two are not available. I found a version of "True Companion," but they aren't even married yet, and Cohn only refers to when the couple will be old. And none of them have kids.
Crosby Stills Nash, "Our House"
"Our House," while a gorgeous song, is a moment somewhere in the life of a couple. And two cats in the yard are just not enough of a stand-in for children to cover most marriage's life cycle. :-)
There are many Christian songs on that theme...don't know, but wouldn't be surprised if they had a C-VH1.
I think you are right, but I don't know the genre well enough to generate examples.
"Lady in Red"? (I know, it doesn't specify in the song that they're married. But I heard an interview with the songwriter, in which he specified it was about catching a glimpse of his wife at a party and seeing her with fresh eyes.) "Wonderful Tonight," maybe? Presumably they're married or she'd leave his drunk ass at the party. And of course there's "Secret Lovers," "Part Time Lover," and "Saving All My Love." For the 7 yr itch stage of marriage.
While "Wonderful Tonight" is a lovely song about a man appreciating his wife (?), it is a tiny moment - no kids, not long-shared life, no growing old. The others in that first set are really just love songs possibly set within marriage.
Oh, how about "Whatta Man" by Salt n Pepa?
"Whatta Man" is a courtship song. It has the abysmally low standards of good family life common in hip-hop songs. He is a good man because he spends quality time with his kids "when he can." The singer is going to have his baby. No mention of marriage. Sigh.
Paul McCartney's "When I'm 64", is, if you read the lyric, a proposal of marriage. Don't know if its available as a video, but it, and Paul and Linda's marriage, certainly speak well of the institution.
"When I'm 64" is more like it. I'd never noticed before that, while they imagine having grandchildren (Vera, Chuck, and Dave), they make no mention of their hypothetical children.
My student friend Katie made this excellent suggestion: July For Kings--"Normal Life."
"Mushaboom" by Feist is about planning a home and children and sticking it out. Doesn't mention marriage, so may not fit your parameters. But relatively current.
"Mushaboom" is sweet, and does have a real vision of a full life.
Try Bob Dylan's "Don't Think Twice. It's all right."
Oh, all the popular music genres are full of songs about marriages and romances that did not work out. That seems to be something that songwriters have lots of experience with.
Ok trying again-- "Superwoman" by Karyn White
"Superwoman" does have a married couple a few years past the wedding, but they may not make it through the whole life course. And no kids.
"Something in Red"-Lorrie Morgan (I know its country but it seems to fit your parameters)
"Something in Red" is a wonderful song, and I admire its concision in taking us through at least the first three years of a courtship and marriage. It is, though, as you note, a country song.
Bonnie Raitt and Jackson Browne's version of Pete Seeger's "Kisses Sweeter than Wine." I don't consider this country.
That is doubly helpful. The song is a good example of what I am after. And folk is a genre I had not looked at enough. But I think folk is at least a close cousin to country.
What about "Faithfully" by Journey?
"Faithfully" does seem to be a faithful marriage, but, as he says, the road is no place to raise a family - so (I infer) they don't.
"Grandpa Was a Carpenter" by John Prine.
"Grandpa Was a Carpenter" is a good one; it implies a full life of marriage and children, though we see nothing of the in-between generation. I would call Prine at least half-country (Wikipedia does, too).
Students suggested "Cat's in the Cradle" today, which I think qualifies.
Isn't "Cat's in the Cradle" a depressing view of the life cycle, though? By the way, I know it's country, but I like the song "Remember When?" more than a lot of others.
"Cat's in the Cradle" is wry, at best, and not nearly as celebratory of the life cycle as "Remember When."