‘Tell me that you want those kind of things / That money just can’t buy / I don’t care too much for money / For money can’t buy me love’: these are the words of wisdom sang by Paul McCartney on The Beatles’ 1964 hit ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ which he wrote with John Lennon. They send me soul-searching every time I hear it, and I hear it a lot because A Hard Day’s Night is one of my favourite albums.
Even without reading into its truthful lyrics the song is a good one, a catchy, feel-good tune anyone with a heartbeat can jive to. We can put its chart-topping success down to the fabulousness that is ‘written by Lennon-McCartney; performed by The Beatles’, but I’d like to think that it was a number one hit also because people who bought or cared to listen to the song craved love, the purest kind that is never up for sale, unlike that other thing which can be bought with money or won with a drink under dim lighting.
You really can’t buy love, and we’re talking about the romantic variety here, though the same goes for familial love and love between friends, and whatever other form love may take. I define romantic love as mutual affection that bonds (usually) two human beings who devote themselves to each other and only each other. And love is not just holding hands, it also entails taking care of each other, which, during tough times or towards the end of a partner’s life, can involve a whole lotta shit and getting your hands dirty, in the most literal sense. As much as happy love songs like to focus on the pretty side, ‘in sickness and in health’ is not just some neat formality you hear at weddings and at the end of rom-coms; it’s what people who are bound by love and duty do.
Of course, there are other challenges a couple must face together—emotional issues, financial difficulties, and child-rearing, just to name a few—and they overcome these troubles out of love and necessity, to survive and to maintain the relationship. Unless a relationship is no longer possible and divorce is the only option, it is much easier to bear the burden of life with someone who cares and understands, or at least tries to. And this leads to my next point: I can hardly imaging a Japanese love pillow or gold-digger a third your age being a source of genuine comfort when life flings dung in your face (unless she really wants your money). You can buy a two-dimensional girlfriend and masturbate to her as much as you like, but who’s gonna be there when you need actual, non-sexual help? You didn’t buy love, you bought a love pillow. And need I expose the cons of marrying a gold-digger with water balloon breasts? The indescribable feelings of fulfilment, wonder, and invincibility that comes from loving and being loved—they too cannot be purchased, no matter how many Birkins, Cartier Love Bracelets or Ferraris you can afford. Materialistic happiness is as temporary as it is unfulfilling; a hollow promise, effervescent as the bubbles in a glass of Dom. As simple and sappy as it sounds, love is what money can’t buy, try as you may.
In any case, that is what I believe. Although, I’d rephrase the awesome foursome’s ‘all you need is love’ to say ‘all you need is love / when times are a-tough’ because you do need money for rent and all that, no-one can survive on love alone. I’m sure most people would agree, only ‘All You Need Is Love’ makes for a much better song than its pragmatic alternative, ‘Love Won’t Pay Your Bills But Sure Heals The Hurt’. I have yet to find my special someone, but when I do, I hope they will still love me when I’m sixty-four.