In the history of music, some of the best love songs ever recorded don’t even have “love” in the title. Some great examples include Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes,” Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time,” The Beatles’ “Something,” and prolly the best example of this, “Ring Of Fire” by Johnny Cash.
In 1980, The Who’s Pete Townshend wrote a song that did include the word love in the title, but was never meant as a love song. That came later.
Inbetween 1978’s WHO ARE YOU and 1981’s FACE DANCES albums, Pete Townshend put together his third studio effort away from his band, his first album comprised of all original songs. The album was called EMPTY GLASS, and featured future Big Country members Mark Brzezicki and Tony Butler.
One of the songs on the album was “Let My Love Open The Door,” a song Pete Townshend once referred to as a song about “the power of God’s love,” and later wrote off as “Just a ditty.” But, it paid off, becoming a Top 10 hit in the U.S. and Canada, his biggest solo hit away from The Who.
Fast forward to April 1996, and THE BEST OF PETE TOWNSHEND compilation album was released. A new remix of “Let My Love Open The Door” appeared on the compilation (along with the 1980 original), that Pete called The E. Cola Mix. He remixed this slower, ballad version of the love song along with Chris Thomas (who co-produced EMPTY GLASS and many INXS albums), producer Tim Oliver, and Jack Hues of Wang Chung.
A year after the compilation’s release, GROSSE POINTE BLANK, the brilliant 1997 John Cusack film set around an 80s high school reunion, was released, and it was the first film or TV show (of many) to feature the beautiful E. Cola Mix of “Let My Love Open The Door.” I couldn’t find any info to confirm, but I’ve always wondered if the E. Cola Mix was commissioned for GROSSE POINTE BLANK. Regardless, its use in the film just felt right and it was a nice moment in the movie. Now I want to watch it again.
For those keeping track, this is my first blog post in about nine months. All apologies for the extended and unintended hiatus from the bloggy thing here. A couple things happened while I was away from writing FOREVER YOUNG.
First, a truly amazing thing happened to me last Summer – I fell in love with Maryhope, my superfriend, my sassy radio co-host for so many years, my yoga coach, my running partner, my writing hero, the reason this blog exists, and my best friend.
That first weekend in August 2017, we stayed in Old Orchard Beach, Maine at the height of the summer, and a busy weekend at the Summer vacation destination that included a Salvation Army band by the pier playing Journey, three women dressed as leprechauns (really? in August?!?!), a swim in the cold Atlantic that changed my life forever, and the moment where I proclaimed my love for Maryhope, which was long overdue.
That weekend, Maryhope got to meet my baby brother, Mark, and I’m forever grateful for that, because four and a half months later, just before Xmas, Mark passed away unexpectedly at the age of 47. Mark was responsible for us staying in OOB that weekend, was very instrumental to that entire weekend, and he was so happy for us, and I was so happy to see him, in his element, in his town. I miss him terribly, and I’ll miss him forever, and I promise to dedicate a blog post to him soon. I love you, Mark.
David Bowie once said, “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.” It took me a long time to figure that out. Almost too long. Maryhope figured it out right away, and was in love with me long before I figured it out. In July 2017, after an incredible weekend together, she texted me a line from my favorite David Bowie song, “Absolute Beginners”: “I absolutely love you.” And, for reasons that still boggle my mind, my not-so-great reply (I think) was, “Oh yeah, I love you too!” What she realized (and I yet hadn’t) is that WE were the “Absolute Beginners” David Bowie was singing about. I didn’t hear from her for two days and I thought I had lost her forever. And I couldn’t get “Absolute Beginners” out of my head. And, between “Absolute Beginners” and my embarrassing admission of jealousy towards a friend of hers, I finally figured it out. And a week later, I told Maryhope I was in love with her!
In the 12 years I’ve known Maryhope, and especially these last four years, I can say absolutely and unequivocally, Maryhope has always challenged me and pushed me to become the person I am today, the person I was all along and didn’t see it. But she knew. She knows me better than I know myself. We have consistently said we had a hand in saving each other’s lives, and we certainly did. When all this started, I just hadn’t realized how much my life was truly in need of saving. I’ve gone from being the guy who crashed on MaryHope’s couch all those years ago to now, a man who has discovered and embraced the joys of running, growing out my natural hair (without the not-so “subtle highlights”), pot, vegetarian cooking, tea, yoga, meditation, reading Rumi, listening to the brilliance that is Bruce Springsteen, T. Rex and Janis Joplin, letting out my inner hippie, looking and feeling better at 51 than I did at 41 or 31, and all the while being madly in love with the most gorgeous and beautiful and funniest and brilliant and sexiest and truly amazing woman in the universe! I am the happiest and luckiest man in the history of men.
Maryhope, I absolutely love you! It’s absolutely true!
To those folks reading these words, and who are on the verge of love, and someone says to you, “I absolutely love you,” DO NOT hesitate to respond back with those same four beautiful words.
Apart from a truly beautiful thing happening in my life, and a truly heartbreaking loss in my life, I think that’s one of the reasons why I couldn’t write anything for awhile – I couldn’t find the right words. Don’t wait too long to say the right things. I waited a long time, and often stumbled over saying the wrong things. I still do. But, as Maryhope has reminded me often, sometimes saying something, anything – even if it might not be the right thing – is often better than not saying anything at all.
Life’s too short. If someone says to you, “Let my love open the door,” you walk – or run, without hesitation – right through that open door and quickly close the door behind you. Don’t look back; look forward. What’s waiting for you there I can’t tell you, but if it’s anything like what I’m experiencing right now with Maryhope, there will be joy and tears of joy, laughter, dancing, extraordinary adventures, a bond like no other, and a strong, precious, beautiful love that will keep those love songs flowing for all time…
“Let my love open the door / Let my love open the door / Let my love open the door / To your heart…”