The Price of Love

The Price of Love visualization with lyric
Photograph: cottonbro

“The Price of Love” is the fifth song on Bachelors Anonymous’ unreleased second album, In the Land of Nod, remastered and released digitally. Bachelor David Hughes tells the story behind the song.


This past spring I went through boxes of audiocassettes to see what I might want to digitize. To my surprise I found the cassette of songs by Bachelor Rob Berg that he gave me after we met in 1984. I could have sworn I’d returned it, but there it was. The A-side playlist:

  1. Grand Illusion
  2. Zigfreed
  3. Mr. Wenceslas
  4. God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen
  5. The Price of Love
  6. Heads in the Clouds

I hope we can release these at some point because they’re the seedlings of so much of what we did. “Grand Illusion,” “Zigfreed,” and “Mr. Wenceslas” were ported to Bachelors Anonymous wholesale. “God Rest You” received new lyrics, but the arrangement is remarkably the same. “The Price of Love,” on the other hand, had more of a makeover. Rob’s original arrangement was fairly jaunty, using a Casio synth and its built-in rhythm box, whereas the B.A. version sounds like we wanted to release our inner Boz Scaggs, if not Bryan Ferry.

This is perhaps the only song on which Rob let me have my way with his musical syntax, fudging both melody and meter with the lyrics. Rob’s original three verses involved couples of a couple persuasions and so I went with that theme—as well as internal rhymes à la “Looking for You.”

Synopsis: A romantic of one sort is married to a romantic of a different sort. The weird logic of the nuclear family that goes nuclear. And an exhortation to pay up.

The Recording

As I said, this song received “more of a makeover” than the other songs on Rob’s cassette. It actually received two.

In the mid ’80s we fleshed out the song via Rob’s shiny new DX7. Del Mar Richardson added drums and Rob asked his friend Tony Ramos to contribute harmonica. This is the only song for which we were able to digitally transfer all eight tracks from the original reel-to-reel tape.

For the 2021 mix below, Rob excised about forty-five seconds to tighten things up, he brought Tony’s harp in early, and added an elastic guitar line created from two keyboard patches. I like that we retained the sequenced synth at 3:44 (a Giorgio Moroder-esque technique that I explained last post in a footnote) and the way Rob’s bare bassline moves in at 4:06. Somehow I got the idea that giving the vocals a Leslie organ-cabinet effect (made famous by the Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows”) might enhance the sound, and so our mixing engineer Adrian Alvarado obliged.

Del Mar, as usual, has total recall. I sent him our original mix for good measure.

There were some foundational drums in the mix before I laid mine on; some were fills and bass drum. This accounts for the double bass drum beats which I normally do not do. David, I think you may have doctored the bass beats up some after I recorded, along with quantizing. This was one of the more difficult songs because I didn’t have that much-needed kick drum pedal.1. This may have been the song that helped to make that decision: “Poor Del is having trouble playing. He needs a bass pedal. Well, let’s get one then.” It’s possible that we left the original bass drum in there. 

[After sending the original mix…]

So the vocals WERE in the song and they sounded good then. It’s just like night and day listening to this and the remixed version. The 16th notes on the cymbals were something I did on Super Heroines’ “The Beast” verse, instead of the hi-hat. For “The Price of Love,” the hi-hat seemed too choppy and I couldn’t control the dynamic—later I would find out they could be softened in the mix when I started doing my own recording. The airy quality of the cymbals was what sounded best.2


Lyrics

I once had a friend who depended on romance
Beginning and end, he’d wait for the slow dance
He’d pray, “Amour, come my way
“Eros, don’t stray…”
But he’d never pay the price of love
The price, the price of love

His wife combs her hair, she wears black for no reason
She mourns her last affair, she’s labeled it treason
She mutters a prayer and lights a red candle
She brushes her hair and hopes for a scandal
“Today, I’ll have my way
“Surely he’ll pay…
“He’ll surely pay the price of love
“The price, the price of love”

Counting out the dulling years
Keeping track of every tear
Hoping for a miracle
When the price of love is paid in full

From mother to daughter, turn laughter to slaughter
The sins of the son are the whims of the father
When all’s said and done, we couldn’t be bothered
To say, “You can go your own way
“(But why don’t you stay?)
“Go on, go away!”
We think we can’t afford to pay the price of love
The price, the price of love

Every day someone has to pay for love to come his way
Every day someone else must pay for giving it away
Every day you can feel it sway your life in subtle ways
It makes you fall down stairs, it makes you lose your hair
It makes you feel so crazy deep down there
You’ve gotta pay the price when you feel so nice
There’s no free lunch here in Paradise
Come on and lose some sleep, take a lover’s leap
Come on and pick yourself up off the heap

Lyrics Reprinted by Permission

Credits

See album credits

Notes

  1. This involved Del Mar working with our electronic drums setup, explained here.
  2. Email, 16 Nov 2021.

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