This Modern Love: “Laundry Room”

In this bi-monthly column, I’ll be writing about some of my favorite love songs from the year 2000 to now.

The Avett Brothers – “Laundry Room”

From: I and Love and You (2009)

There are many, many things wrong with most of us writers. For me, it’s a delightful cocktail of anxiety, low self-confidence, hopeless romanticism, total impracticality and drive to impress that pushes me to keep trying to get it exactly right on paper just one fucking time. I don’t think I ever will, but we all have something that drives us to keep tilting at windmills. Cornball as sounds, in my case, that something is usually love.

Judging from the lyrics to “Laundry Room,” Scott and Seth Avett not only understand what it’s like to try so hard to convey the depths of passion you have for a person, but what it feels like when you can’t get the damn thing right:

Last night I dreamt the whole night long
I woke with a head full of songs
I spent the whole day
I wrote ’em down, but it’s a shame
Tonight I’ll burn the lyrics
Cause every chorus was your name

I find this to not only be one of the most exquisitely devastating verses in any love song I can think of, but so relatable it really annoys me I didn’t write it. I’ve been that man, trying (and failing) to come up with some way to get it fucking right – some metaphor or string of words that finally fully expresses how you feel. But for all the effort, there are times when their name is the only thing that fully encapsulates every unforgettable thing about them. Some words can’t be improved on.

Taken from the Avett Brothers’ star-making album, I And Love And You, I was a sucker for “Laundry Room” before I even heard it – that’s where my first kiss was, you see. It’s not made explicitly clear in the song if this is the singer’s first love, but it is clearly a celebration of young love. The singer references his girl’s parents three times, and you certainly get the feeling they’re both still figuring this whole thing out, especially with admirably restrained lines like, “Keep your clothes on/I got all that I can take.” 

If you know anything about The Avett Brothers, you know they can play their take on bluegrass-drenched folk like absolute motherfuckers. Here they aim for something more delicate and simple (minus the instrumental tear-down at the end, which never seemed to fit the vibe of the song) with some lilting harmonizing, bittersweet violin and graceful fingerpicking. Musically, it all conveys a melancholy that often accompanies a maturing and changing relationship. 

But what’s most affecting about “Laundry Room” is that the lyrics are all about hope and finding the joy in the little things. Take the following verse:  

Stop your parents’ car
I just saw a shooting star
We can wish upon it
But we won’t share the wish we made
But I can’t keep no secrets
I wish that you would always stay.

If you’ve ever been really, truly happy in the presence of someone else, you get what it’s like to have your only wish to be that you get more time with them. Those are the days and nights we wish would never end. That’s love. That’s “Laundry Room.”

This, that and the other: I was going to share a couple of my favorite other songs about kissing, but then it occurred to me that 1995’s acid-drenched superhero flick, Batman Forever had two great ones, including one bulletproof classic. Here’s those:

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