'Let My Love Open the Door' or How I Know When a Movie Is...

Scott Schrade schrade at akrobiz.com
Sun Dec 30 14:30:42 CST 2007

> My goodness. Has this person read the liner notes from Townshend's 
> "greatest hits" album, where he argues that it was a homage to God's 
> love, hidden inside a simple love song, and most people missed it? 

No, I don't think Mr. Miller had any knowledge about that when he wrote
his piece.  However, I'd like to argue that the religious interpretation of the
song is even more of a "gimmick" than the "locked heart" example Mr. Miller

First, let's read what Pete says about the song in the COOLWALKING....
liner notes:

"LMLOTD is one of those songs where you end up shooting to write some-
thing really deep & meaningful, & what you end up coming up with is some-
thing that appears to be froth.  This was a song about love, but this is actually
about divine love.  It's supposed to be about the power of God's love, that
when you're in difficulty, whether it's major or minor, God's love is always 
there for you.  But I suppose, because I used the royal 'we' - I sang with
God's voice - it became a song about, you know, 'Hey, girl, I'll give you a
good time, if you're feeling blue, come over to my place, & we'll catch a
movie,' very much a soap opera version of what it was about, but a few 
people have picked it out."

My first problem concerns Pete's use of that "royal 'we,'" as he put it.  Why
the cover up?  If it's a "deep" religious song, write it like that.  Why even
imply the secondary interpretation?  Because humanistic interpretation is real, 
that's why.  "Hokey & saccharine," as Mr. Miller states, perhaps, but the 
message is still real.  I've said it & you've said it.  "My love could open up a 
new world to you.  Just give me a chance."  However, the pleading egotism 
in the song's message attributed to one of humanity's countless mythological 
deities strips the song of any actuality.  It's no longer the story about me 
pining for the chick down the street (which actually happened) but is instead 
about an imaginary mythological deity lobbying for my vote.  Or worse yet, 
Pete's attempt to convince *me* to vote for *his* deity.    

How would this have sounded:

Let God's love open the door
It's all we're living for
Release yourself from misery
Only one thing's gonna set you free
That's God's love

Could've been a big hit with the Christian Music audience except for the
halo, hookers, & booze on the album cover, I'll bet.

Now let's use the ancient Hebrew name for "God:"

Let Yahweh's love open the door
It's all we're living for
Release yourself from misery
Only one thing's gonna set you free
That's Yahweh's love

Nearly the same, but "Yahweh" sounds kinda funny in today's world &
religion is anything but funny.  Nothing funny about people choosing sides,
discriminating, & murdering.  Oh yeah, helping the poor, too.

Or let's say Pete was born in ancient Greece & wrote:

Let Zeus's love open the door
It's all we're living for
Release yourself from misery
Only one thing's gonna set you free
That's Zeus's love

Pick another imaginary deity, any deity, & try it out.

My point is that the mythological interpretation completely dilutes the song
of any true meaning, making it silly, nonsensical, elitist, & absurd.  Not to
mention unrealistic.  The humanistic interpretation, while arguably "hokey"
in this case, is both real & accessible.  True to life rather than true to some
man-made god.  A much more pure & honest artistic statement, IMO.

But now we come to the point where I give Pete great credit. (!)  He *didn't*
write the song in a heavy-handed overtly religious way.  He wisely gave it
the humanistic touch, content to keep its true, narrower meaning to himself.
I admire that.  I'm a firm believer in the Separation of Church & Rock.

But the knee-jerk reaction to argue that because the song is really about
Pete's personal mythological deity somehow makes the song more meaningful, 
less hokey, & less gimmicky....is just plain wrong.  IMO.    ;-)  

Comments & criticisms welcomed.  


- SCHRADE in Akron

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