31 Days of Faves: The Troggs – Love Is All Around

#23 The Troggs – Love Is All Around

The inimitable Creem and Rolling Stone rock journalist, Lester Bangs dubbed the Troggs, the “godfathers of punk”, comparing lead singer Reg Presley to Marcel Proust. Both Iggy Pop and Bob Dylan praised the band that took Chip Taylor‘s composition, “Wild Thing” to Number 1.

So there’s a certain irony that their most enduring hit was a love song. Presley’s composition, “Love Is All Around“, first appeared on the UK singles charts in 1967. I heard it in April of 1968 when it peaked at Number 3 on the WKNR Music Guide.

The four chord opening with wood block accompaniment channeled my own heartbeat. The 1-5-4-5 progression that backed each verse was perfect for holding your sweetheart close, beneath the star fields of cut glass balls in reverberating school gymnasiums.

The simplicity of the chorus:

You know I love you. I always will.
My mind’s made up by the way that I feel.
There’s no beginning, there’ll be no end.
Cause on my love you can depend.

…seemed to perfectly articulate the definition of young love.  It was still fresh, naive, and without the trials and tribulations that would punctuate the lyrics of later creations, more accurately reflecting the painful experience that was inevitably part of enduring relationships.

But all of those things were far in the future for teenagers who were thoroughly enjoying a first foray into reciprocated affection.

Such was “Love Is All Around’s” popularity that Wet Wet Wet‘s remake became the centerpiece in the soundtrack to the 1994 film Four Weddings and a Funeral. The cover became  an international hit spending 15 consecutive weeks at the top of the UK Singles Chart.

For those of us who experienced the genuine article, “Love Is All Around” remains a quintessential part of the soundtrack of our youth.

My own personal postscript happened in 1968 when I was 13. It was the last day of school. I was leaving the band room when she cornered me. We had known each other since fifth grade and her family was moving to Dexter.

“I need you to know something,” she said, tears instantly welling up in her blue eyes. “I’ve been in love with you since the day we first met. And I wish you loved me back.”

I was stunned, not knowing what to say, totally unaware and ignorant, as teenage boys often are. The best response I could come up with was, “Let’s talk about it.”

She couldn’t, turning and running away from me, out of the building and into the sunshine of a perfect Spring afternoon.

I made a weak attempt to follow her, emerging into the sea of kids hauling the contents of lockers into the afternoon of the final day of the school year. CKLW was ascending as Detroit’s popular radio brand and a dozen transistor radios were playing the station at once.

“Love Is All Around” encircled me as I tried to pick her out of the crowd.

But she was gone and I would never see her again.

The string section swelled as Reg sang, “So if you really love me, come on and let it show,” repeating the last seven words over and over.

And I wondered about what might have been.