The conversation started because of Captain & Tennille. When their cheesy '70s classic, “Love Will Keep Us Together” came on satellite radio while we were on a road trip, my fiancé and I discovered that we both adore it — without irony, I might add. We genuinely love it. And with an exuberant refrain of “I will! I will! I will!,” wouldn’t it make a great addition to the playlist we’re creating for our microwedding?
So we listened carefully to the lyrics and instantly realized we can’t use it.
My fiancé and I practice ethical non-monogamy. We prefer this term to polyamory, but sure, you can call us poly if you want to. And since we love '70s culture, we don’t mind the term swingers either. But ethical non-monogamy seems to best encapsulate what we do and how we do it.
From the start, we were both interested in forging a strong bond that welcomed in, rather than excluded, interest in other partners. Our non-monogamy — and other non-normative aspects of our erotic life — are actually at the very center of our relationship. These are values we celebrate, discuss constantly, and which drew much of the community and friends we have around us. We want to make sure that the values we hold dear through our non-monogamy, including openness, honesty, adventurousness and evolving, are expressed in everything we do at our (two separate) weddings, even if we never use the actual term.
This led to a discussion of how many songs are out there are about “forsaking all others,” something we definitely are not including in our vows.
So when we heard that the lyrics to “Love Will Keep Us Together” and realized that they warn a partner to “stop” being interested in a “sweet-talking girl” and implore him to “be strong” rather than pursue this crush, we sadly decided that we can’t put it on our list. It is not a song that represents how we feel about such situations. I want my partner to hang out with that sweet-talking girl, tell me about her, and maybe we can both date her!
This led to a discussion of how many songs are out there are about “forsaking all others,” something we definitely are not including in our vows. It’s a common theme in popular songs: now that I’m with you, I promise not to look at anyone else, think about anyone else, etc.
Were we going to be able to find songs that don’t talk the monogamous talk for our wedding playlist?
There are some great songs about being slutty, of course: the Led Zeppelin catalog is full of them, and we are particularly fond of the “street corner girl” who likes to “ball all day” crooned about in “Hey Hey What Can I Do?,” but ultimately the narrator leaves her because he’s “got a worried mind.” So that won’t work. Nor will all the songs about rambling or wandering or stepping out, since they’re not exactly about the kind of healthy processing and communication done in ethical non-monogamy.
In her song “The Weekend,” SZA sings about how “my man is your man / this her man, too,” but it’s not clear how much these other women are okay with that. “Me and Mrs. Jones” is a soulful, gorgeous, sensitive '70s song about non-monogamy, but it’s definitely not of the ethical variety. (We may play it anyway.)
I posted on a Poly group I’m in on Facebook to ask if others had ideas. There were plenty of suggestions for songs that specifically talk about non-monogamy, some ethical, some not so much. There are even Spotify playlists (search for “Polyamory” by Merlin-themage for a pretty comprehensive one). But with a few exceptions — mostly pop songs about threesomes, and, notably, the song “Triad” by the Jefferson Airplane — most of them are of the novelty and/or pagan folkie variety (lots by a band called Gaia Consort). And that’s great, but that’s not really our jam. We want to find songs we already know and love that just happen to espouse an open message. And that’s not been easy to find.
In the end, we are mostly going with songs we love that talk about love and affection but simply don’t focus on the forsaking all others part. We also have plenty of songs that are special to us but don’t have lyrics that mean anything in particular. (Have you ever looked up the lyrics to “The Ghost in You” by the Psychedelic Furs? Man, we love that song, but the lyrics are incoherent nonsense.)
And even though we don’t only have eyes for each other and celebrate that reality, we may still use “I Only Have Eyes for You” by The Flamingos, just because it’s so damn beautiful.
If you know of great popular love songs — from the 1940s to today, funk, rock, disco, alternative, whatever — that just happen to also have lyrics in which the lovers aren’t all about forgetting anyone else exists, please share them in the comments!