Saturday Music: Passionate Kisses

This song by Mary Chapin Carpenter goes all the way back to the early days for Sweet Wife and me. And it sure is funny how time changes one’s perspective of a song.

Back in the 1990s, I think we enjoyed the catchy, folksiness of the sound, which was a breath of fresh air for those not into grunge. Plus, I’m sure we thought a song about passionate kissing was cool (for some reason).  Back then, I don’t think we thought a thing in the world about what the lyrics were really saying. But let’s take a look now:

Is it too much to ask
I want a comfortable bed that won’t hurt my back
Food to fill me up
And warm clothes and all that stuff
Shouldn’t I have this
Shouldn’t I have this
Shouldn’t I have all of this, and

Passionate kisses
Passionate kisses, whoa oh oh
Passionate kisses from you

Is it too much to demand
I want a full house and a rock and roll band
Pens that won’t run out of ink
And cool quiet and time to think
Shouldn’t I have this
Shouldn’t I have this
Shouldn’t I have all of this, and

Passionate kisses
Passionate kisses, whoa oh oh
Passionate kisses from you

Do I want too much
Am I going overboard to want that touch
I shout it out to the night
“Give me what I deserve, ’cause it’s my right”
Shouldn’t I have this (shouldn’t I)
Shouldn’t I have this (shouldn’t I)
Shouldn’t I have all of this, and

Passionate kisses
Passionate kisses, whoa oh oh
Passionate kisses from you
Passionate kisses
Passionate kisses, whoa oh oh
Passionate kisses from you

This song begins with a description of several “wants” the singer desires.  At first glance, they seem like basic needs, but they are really a step above what one has to have to survive. These aren’t just the basic needs of a bed and food, but a specific cry for a bed that won’t hurt the back and a full stomach.

Then, there is a cry for the extra: a full concert crowd, pens with never-ending ink (which would certainly be handy for a songwriter) and a peaceful place to sit and think (again, helpful for the songwriter who has a pen with never-ending ink).

On top of these is the chorus’ call for “passionate kisses,” a desire that is also echoed in the final verse.  To me, “kisses” would represent the touch of another human that we all desire on some level.  “Passionate,” however, would refer to the intensity of the touch. This songwriter wants the person they are kissing to want them – passionately.

It’s easy to ridicule the message in this song as “typically American” and say this person is wrong to want so much. But in reality, whether we are Americans or not, this is what we are all saying inside to some degree. We’d all like a full belly and a soft, quiet place to sit and think and we’d all like to have someone passionately in love with us. As twenty-somethings, the message of kissing resonated with us with the most intensity, but as forty-somethings, we understand a whole lot better.

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