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Why can't we write love songs anymore?

BOX OFFICE HIT: Lovers’ Rock Monologues stars Carroll Thompson, Victor Romero Evans and Janet Kay

LOVER'S ROCK Monologues returns to the stage at the Fairfield Halls in Croydon and to the Tricycle Theatre in London this week, in a tremendous run that has seen the production gross over £1 million in box office receipts.

That is a phenomenal achievement for any stage show let alone one that was hatched over a dinner table in my kitchen by a group of friends who just happened to be two of the queens of lovers’ rock and one of the kings of the musical genre.

If it were as simple as “the music” we would all be millionaires. Certainly the harmony of Janet Kay, Carroll Thompson (Mrs Adebayo) and Victor Romero Evans is part of the attraction of this hit show. To see these giants of lovers’ rock singing, dancing, reminiscing about the good times, cracking joke and acting out their teenage fantasies is a real revelation, even for the people in the audience who may not be as familiar with the lovers’ rock scene.

Having said that, you’d be surprised how Lovers Rock Monologues has also tapped into the untold story of all the white lovers’ fans who can sing every line of every lyric ever recorded by the likes of Louisa Mark, Sandra Cross, Paulette Tajah, and the recently married Paul Dawkins - all million-selling artists.

But Lovers’ Rock Monologues goes deeper. It’s a phenomenon. That’s why it’s so difficult to capture. I want to say it’s a musical. And it is. I want to say it’s a play. And it is. I want to say it’s a comedy show. And it is. But you have to see it for yourself, because it’s more than that. 

AFFIRMATIONS

Lovers’ Rock Monologues is the story of the love that kept us alive. Not just in the late 1970s and 80s and 90s when ‘Inglann’ was still a bitch and we were the targets of its bitchiness, but ever since then also. The songs that were written in that period were affirmations of our humanity in a period where our humanity was being denied. But humanity is not in the favour of others. We are the arbiters of our own humanity. It is within our grasp. Hence the songs of joy and laughter and romance that encapsulated that history.

When Winston Reedy sang the million-selling smash Dim The Lights, didn’t he echo what we were all thinking at the dance, let alone the bedroom? And didn’t Jean Adebambo’s multi-million selling Paradise take us to the place where we would love to be instead of the drudgery that we found ourselves in? 

It was the same thing for the Motown sound of black America in the 1960s. After half a century of depressing blues songs where some old geezer in dungarees was moaning about his missus leaving him, suddenly The Supremes, The Temptations and Smokey Robinson and Marvin Gaye all burst on the scene looking like we all wanted to look and with songs of love that seemed to capture what we all wanted to say - Stop in the Name of Love, I Heard It Through The Grapevine. Those were the songs that lovers’ rock fed on. Lovers’ rock was our Motown.

Why can’t we write love songs like that anymore? 

Is it because of the lack of adversity? Is it because we don’t feel the pressures of racism anymore? Is it because we are all middle-class fat cats now? (Speak for yourself, Adebayo - Ed.) Or is it because we are not learning the lessons from the past? 

SURPRISED

Forgive me for saying so, apart from Alicia Keys, Adele and Taylor Swift, I don’t hear none of today’s top artists writing love songs like we used to. Yes, Adele and Taylor Swift. They were also weaned on a diet of lovers’ rock. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that they have gone and seen Lovers’ Rock Monologues to soak in the vibe of the time and to learn from the stories of those classic lovers’ rock stars. Because those top stars know what we mere mortals suspect, that the best music comes from the heart.
Not just the best music, the best stories, the best cooking, the best styles, the best products, the best families. Love is where the heart is. That is the key to the success of Lovers’ Rock Monologues; it’s from the heart. And until we learn that and we start to write and sing songs from the heart again, Adele and Taylor Swift will continue to be the biggest selling lovers’ rock stars on the planet.

Lovers’ Rock Monologues starring Janet Kay, Victor Romero Evans and Carroll Thompson: Jul 17-18, 7.30pm at Fairfield Halls; Croydon Jul 20-25th July at Tricycle Theatre, Kilburn, London.

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