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My New Book!

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

February 14, 2024: AmericanStudying Love Songs: “You Can’t Hurry Love”

[I know it might not be very 2024 of me to say, but love is in the air, and not just because it’s Valentine’s week. If you’re feeling it too, or maybe if you need a little help getting into the V-Day spirit, this week I’ll quickly highlight the AmericanStudies stories behind a handful of our great past love songs, leading to a special post on current ones that have hit my heart. Add your Valentine’s tunes in comments, please!]

Every corner of American popular music has produced a shit-ton of love songs—maybe if you’re lucky (or cursed?) I’ll devote a future weeklong series to boy bands, for example; don’t even front, you know you want it that way—but I’m not sure any community did so more consistently and more successfully than Motown. The artists and groups signed by Barry Gordy’s Motown Records released a laundry list of phenomenal love songs, and any and all of them could work for today’s post (I’ve definitely got more Marvin Gaye Studying to do, to name just one example). But I don’t think any artists better embody Motown than did The Supremes, especially during their decade with the legendary Diana Ross before she left the group in 1970 to pursue her solo career; and among their many hit love songs (and hits period) I would single out for this Valentine’s Day the beautiful and wise “You Can’t Hurry Love” (1966). What I especially love about “You Can’t Hurry Love” is that it reminds us that love songs aren’t simply or at least not necessarily about romantic love, but also about the other forms and expressions of love in our lives—such as the speaker’s mother in this song, and they her advice represents a loving legacy she has left with the speaker as she navigates her own life and quest for companionship. May we remember all those we love and who love us on this V-Day!

Next love song tomorrow,


PS. What do you think? Other love songs you’d AmericanStudy?

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