My favorite Gene Pitney record begins with a ferocious drum roll, mighty enough to throw your heart off its rhythm — and if it doesn’t, the words will:
It hurts to be in love
When the only one you love
Turns out to be someone
Who’s not in love with you
It hurts to love her so
When deep down inside you know
She will never want you
No matter what you do
How good a record? Neil Sedaka put this out, perhaps as a favor to old writing partner Howard Greenfield, who penned this with Helen Miller; RCA Victor refused to release it, complaining that it wasn’t done in-house. Gene’s version, as it happens, is exactly Sedaka’s, with Neil’s voice scraped off and a brief organ bit overdubbed. “Don’t change a thing!” someone at Musicor, Pitney’s label, must have said.
How good a description? Viewed through the prism of Grey’s Anatomy, perhaps too good:
O’Malley followed the path that a lot of us do. He at once acknowledged that she was out of his league and so didn’t make his move but then did not acknowledge that the next move was his… the move away. Moving out of the apartment or trying to tackle his futile emotions. The romantic in all of us says that love is not something that can be contained, but to say that of O’Malley is also to say that of Meredith. The main difference being that she at least had a shot at her dream at one point.
There is supposed to be a romantic tragedy behind the love of the unattainable. I think that popular entertainment presents us with it so often (and make it love actualized sometimes) because we can all relate to it. But I view it as a truly destructive force. The inability to get someone out of your mind or to let a former lover go is one of the greatest sources of self-inflicted misery I’ve seen in those around me in my somewhat privileged life. It’s human and to some extent unavoidable, but I find Hollywood’s exaltation of this impulse to be problematic. I’ve complained before about how Hollywood misleads men by making them think that persistence counts. But it misleads women into thinking that men will come around, too. And it misleads all of us into thinking that there is something beautiful about unrequited love and dreaming the impossible (Mc)Dream(y).
Once in a while, though, it makes a really good record. For some of us, that’s going to have to be enough.