“Can’t Help Falling in Love” (2. analysis)

Pierre-Auguste Renoir – Lovers – 1875

The  melody is based on “Plaisir d’amour”, a popular French love song composed in 1784 by a German with an Italian name, Jean-Paul Egide-Martini.

The song was initially written for a woman as “rom“, which explains the first and third line ending on “in” and “sin” rather than words rhyming with “you”.

Elvis Presley‘s version of the song topped the British charts in 1962, It was one of his most famous and romantic songs which, during Presley’s late 1960s and 1970s live performances, was performed as the show’s finale

It is a tender ballad about being unable to resist falling in love, and it is one of the most popular wedding songs. However, some critics assert it should not be considered the triumph of romantic music, a happy song celebrating love, but a song of defeat, and grieving, which is seen from the very first lines of the song, where there is a warning from wise people not to fall in love impulsively. On the contrary, the singer cannot help becoming infatuated, seemingly against his own wishes.

Wise men say only fools rush in
But I can’t help falling in love with you
Shall I stay?
Would it be a sin
If I can’t help falling in love with you?

The line “Wise men say only fools rush in” recalls a phrase from “An Essay on Criticism” (1711) by Alexander Pope, where we read: “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread” meaning that the impulsive or inexperienced attempt things that wiser people avoid.
The singer goes on mentioning the word sin: “Would it be a sin” [if I stayed the night]: this sounds like a moral question about the possibility of breaking the ethical behaviour expected of every member of society. Does true love justify that? Is it still a sin if it is apparently out of his control?

Like a river flows surely to the sea
Darling so it goes
Some things are meant to be
Take my hand, take my whole life too
For I can’t help falling in love with you

He then compares his feeling to a river that ends up in the ocean: he thinks that he and his lover are the same.
This line may represent either the desire of moving on, which is what a river does, when it flows toward the sea, or letting go, abandoning himself to this feeling.

Like a river flows surely to the sea
Darling so it goes
Some things are meant to be
Take my hand, take my whole life too
For I can’t help falling in love with you
For I can’t help falling in love with you

After that, he asks her to take his hand, which is neither a sin nor rushing in, but in the next line he tells her to take his whole life. This conveys the romantic idea of sharing your life with someone you love, but it also means he is surrendering to the inevitability of falling in love and choosing to give up his whole life for her.

Yet, some notice that the idea of taking someone’s life may be a little disturbing



18 thoughts on ““Can’t Help Falling in Love” (2. analysis)

  1. Presley’s best selling single “It’s Now or Never” is based on “O Sole mio” by Eduardo di Capua and Alfredo Mazzucchi. I say “based” but in fact the melody was ripped off. Because copyright protections don’t apply is no excuse for stealing a melody without credit. I am a firm believer that even the music of Mozart should not be in public domain. I actively worked on the revision of the U.S. copyright laws in 1979. Sadly, classical music is still used in commercials, etc. without a cent of royalty being paid to descendants and heirs of the composer.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It’s entirely up to you. The best written songs will always have several different interpretations that could totally sum up the same song perfectly. I write music for my own pleasure, but if I was ever lucky enough to have a large listening audience, the last thing I would ever do is tell them what any song was about exactly. That’s always for the listener to decide.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Molto interessante cara Luisa! Strabiliante la doppia analisi del testo, in base al punto di vista del “capitolare per amore – o colpo di fulmine” in questo caso, considerando la travolgente passione…. a mio avviso, è una canzone romantica… 😊

    Liked by 1 person

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