“If music be the food of love, play on”. Although these words were uttered by Shakespeare’s Duke Orsino who, it turns out, was a deeply confused man in a play about mischief, conspiracy, and gender, the poetry of the phrase rings true. And with February being the most romantic month of the year, it’s time to explore the theme of love and music.
Every year, I prepare myself for this month to be filled with saccharine sweet songs and cringe-worthy warbling about how love is everlasting, and once you catch a glimpse of The One it’s all love at first sight, with birds singing and woodland animals helping you get dressed in the morning. I get that songs like that are full of hyperbole because people don’t want to hear about the boring side of love, especially as it’s difficult to rhyme “and then I did the washing up while he watched Catchphrase” with anything worthwhile.
And then First Time by Australia’s Vance Joy came into my life. It tells the story of the urgency and bitter-sweetness of first love. Teamed with an upbeat and folksy riff that we expect from Melbourne’s answer to George Ezra, the catchy tune will soon work its way into your head like a musical earworm.
Paraphrasing Cat Stevens’ First Cut Is The Deepest with the lyrics “there will always be another time for us to fall in love, but it never cuts you quite as deep as that first time”, Vance Joy sings in a way anyone who has been in love can relate to. What starts off as a song about young love and a summer fling turns into the voice of experience – knowledge of what it means to be in love.
The song presents a level of hope for the future combined with the remembered heartache of the past. It perfectly encapsulates the naivety of a first love, and the insight found once that love is lost.