John Cage wrote “How I Love You” and that song is often attributed as having been his very first big hit. However, there are a number of potential candidates for this title. In fact, many believe it could have been either “ARDL” or “My Old School.” One thing is certain, though, that John Cage did write that song and he did call it, “How I Love You.”
This is clearly a love song, if you think about it. It’s a simple love song, almost jubilant. It was being played on the radio every day. It was even sung by a popular folk group at a famous concert. Most likely, this song came to public attention by the artists and groups who popularized it.
John Cage has acknowledged that he was deeply influenced by the works of George Moulin Rouge. He made the connection between the music of Moulin Rouge and the work of John Coltrane. “How I Live Now” features three original compositions, all of which feature strong musical components. These arrangements form the basis for many future Coltrane compositions. It is therefore safe to assume that John Cage knew some of the ideas that went into the classic “colored ballads,” and that he may have been one of the inspirations for many of them.
The second song we’ll discuss is “Mystery of Love.” In fact, there are two verses, a prelude and a chorus in this song, which makes it a unique piece of classic choruses. The verses contain a narrative that is somewhat related to the first verse. As with “ARDL,” this song achieved commercial success with its use of a similar melody, “Mystery of Love.”
“Mystery of Love” was recorded by Coltrane with the same band that played “I Remember You.” Although the band changed names during the sessions for this album, they retained the same sound and were even better than their prior recordings. Unlike the first verse of “ARDL,” the first stanza of “Mystery of Love” contains three distinct ideas. The first idea occurs at the beginning of the chorus, as the subject of the story offers a solace from his relationship problems, anticipating what he will face tomorrow.
The third idea occurs near the end of the song, as the narrator realizes that he needs to confide in someone. It is here that the romantic mood of the song takes on a different hue. While the first stanza begins with “I remember you,” the last two seconds of the chorus continue with “I feel as if I ought to be going home.” “Mystery of Love” is an excellent example of how a simple but profound idea can be unfolded into a masterpiece of popular music. “Mystery of Love” remains a consistently interesting and exciting song in its own right, and is an exemplary song example of the art of understatement.