This is the third in a series of articles analyzing the lyrics from the 1993 Carcass album “Heartwork”.
No Love Lost
Numbing feelings dead
Synthesized broken hearts to bled
Without emotion your heartstrings played
Strummed and severed to the tune of a tragic serenade
[A tragic chorus]
Without emotion, your heartstrings break
Snapped and severed to the tune of a tragic, sad cliche
No love lost
When all is said and done
There’s no love lost
The low cost of loving
Human frailties and weakness are easy prey
How your poor heart will bleed
The modern conception of romantic love is nothing short of vulgar. I do not mean vulgar in the sense of it being lewd or lascivious, but more so remarkably crass and repulsively commercialized. One of the more humiliating acts that exist in our culture is that of picking out a card for a loved ones birthday. The well-intentioned shopper is immediately met with all forms of syrupy sweet, ersatz garbage that pass for a genuine expression of feeling. Being told “I love you” Hallmark style is the equivalent of having some dude in a lime green leisure suit approach you and tell you that we should get rid of all the letters in the way so that “U and I can get together.” Love can seem like an ill-concieved, ham-handed con with all the charm of one of those insidious pop-ups that try to convince the barely sentient of the rich rewards that will be showered on them if only they surrender their credit card number. It is not hard to understand the disgust that would motivate Jeff Walker to write the words in “No Love Lost”.
While I am in complete agreement with the notion that love has been trivialized, I can’t climb on board with the idea that there is no such thing as love. The following admission is probably going to get my universal skeptic license suspended for the next six months, but, in all honesty, love is the one con I simply cannot renounce. I want to believe that there is a category of human experience that transcends our own personal needs and allows us, even momentarily, to exist for another. I want to think that there is more to life than survival and that we have a deeper need for connection to other humans. There must be more than just dumb, barely animate material wandering aimlessly from cradle to grave. I believe that many people share an essential longing to understand each other, to see their neighbors as beings dealing with the same existential dilemmas as themselves, struggling to find some compassion or empathy and aspiring to give that gift to another even though nothing tells them they have to. The best approximation of these feelings and desires is the word love.
Maybe this understanding reflects the cynicism expressed in “No Love Lost”. Imagine desperately wanting to feel the connection to others and being given back nothing but Hugh Grant movies and power ballads. Trying to come to terms with love in our contemporary carnival of cheap thrills and easy answers is a demoralizing task. If I am ever to really conceptualize what love means my expression of it will be minimized by the fact that the language I have to communicate it has been co-opted by a bunch of soft-sell dream peddlers who are more concerned about appealing to a demographic representation of males 25-34 than finding deeper human truths. Why not look at the Love Industry with scorn? After all, it has robbed us of our full means to relate something significant and meaningful to the world. Instead of filling us with a feeling of awe and reverence, the word fills so many seekers of reality with bitterness and irritation.
Maybe the real demonstration of the transcendent power of love is whether it can overcome the cesspool of a market in which it now resides. Occasionally there are human truths that possess so much power that they can surmount any obstacle set before them. That’s what I’d like to believe, anyway. For us to believe that love is real maybe we need to see that it can be debased in every way imaginable and still carry meaning. Or maybe those who sell it have uncovered the terrible truth; that love is simply an inducement to get the suckers to buy more of what they don’t need. Give them the fantasy of love and they’ll gladly exchange it for safety, freedom and power over their own lives. I desperately hope that this isn’t so.
(This series is being co-published by the folks over at MindOverMetal.org. Check’em out!)
#1 by James Dubbing on June 13, 2011 - 10:51 AM
YEA i AGREE but this band has been out for a long time now wow ,they sure changed,dont think those are the same guys I saw in show in baltimore MD at the Rage like 15 years ago ..that nite I was back stage with them and napalmo DEATH but i have to say Im disapointed,dont know why you would even take the time to disect such simple non pasion lyrics i wish they would write like they use too all that great anger turned into art…
#2 by Keith Spillett on June 13, 2011 - 11:37 AM
This song is my least favorite on Heartwork (both in terms of words and music). No Love Lost lacks the style and substance of the rest of the album. There are some good lines in it, but it pales in comparison to the brilliance of the rest of the record. This isn’t a knock on this song, it would be one of the better songs on most records, but it comes right in the middle of some truly groundbreaking work. The next 4 songs are, to me, where the record really takes off. I’ll be getting to the song Heartwork at some point next week.
#3 by John Erickson on June 13, 2011 - 12:55 PM
Wow, you really ARE a hopeless romantic! And you know what? Bravo! I had written a lot of fancy poetry in my twenties (a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, to coin a phrase), but it wasn’t poetry, or fancy music, or expensive commercial schmaltz that convinced my wife and I we were meant to be together. It was a simple touch of hands. Suffice to say, we both knew it was something special, and despite a thousand-mile separation and her relative state of poverty, we overcame and are still together today.
You are wiser than you give yourself credit – you have identified the difference between the emotion of love and the industry of love. No wonder you are such a keen analyst of song lyrics.
Or, to get out of this overly erudite and saccharin-worded conversation,
“DUDE! You ROCK!” 😀
#4 by Keith Spillett on June 13, 2011 - 8:12 PM
I’ve been called hopeless, but never a romantic! I wrote a lot of really bad poetry in my 20s that I would be horrified if anyone ever saw (which will probably be what I’m saying about my blog in my 40s)
Thanks for the kind words, sir! It is an honor to share them with someone who really appreciates them.
#5 by James Dubbing on June 15, 2011 - 10:54 AM
HOPEFULLY THEY FIND WITHIIN THEM WHAT THEY HE TO HELP BRING METAL AND ALL BACK BETTER AND MAKE ALL ..INCLUDEING FANS PROFIT FROM IT .
#6 by Steven Russell on November 11, 2012 - 5:49 PM
where’s part 4?!?
#7 by Keith Spillett on November 12, 2012 - 9:39 AM
It should be up there. I’m through 7 at this point.