Lyric Problems: Belinda Carlisle's "Heaven is a Place on Earth"

Belinda Carlisle claims again and again in her 1987 Billboard #1 hit "Heaven Is a Place on Earth" that:

"They say in heaven, love comes first."

No, they don't. This is not a commonly used (or ever used) expression. No one says this. This song is the only place where these words are spoken.

In fact, I ran a search on the King James Bible. The three words "love comes first" do not appear sequentially anywhere in The Bible.

Also, who are "they?"

Donald Trump is fond of say that "People are saying this..." and "They say that..." but he's lying every single time. Absent of an actual, quotable human being, Trump claims that people are speaking in his favor but is incapable of pointing to any specific person. 

I'm not attempting to compare Belinda Carlisle to Donald Trump, and I understand that there's a big difference between the veracity of the President of the United States and a musician. Carlisle didn't even write the song. That credit goes to Rick Nowels and Ellen Shipley.

Still, "they" don't say in heaven that "Love comes first." Not as far as I can tell.  

That lyric has annoyed me for 30 years. 

Four interesting facts about the song "Laid" that should not only be interesting to me (but probably are).

1. "Laid" is one of my favorite songs, but I have yet to find another song by James that I like.

2. "Laid" does not contain the word "laid" anywhere in its lyrics. This happens from time to time in the music industry. "Baba O'Riley" by The Who, "Danny's Song" by Loggins & Messina, and a whole bunch of Led Zeppelin songs come to mind, but still, it's not common. 

3. Ever since I heard the song for the first time, I've wondered (and worried about) the song's protagonist. He's tried to escape an apparently unhealthy relationship with this woman, only to find her returning to his life again and again. Then he sings those last two unforgettable lines:

You're driving me crazy
When are you coming home?

 Haunting. Right?

Does this mean he's trapped? Unable to escape her charms? Doomed to return to her again and again? Destined to never find happiness and real love? 

Or does it mean that he's finally realized that she was meant for him? Has he finally found true love? Do they live happily ever after?

Perhaps you haven't wondered about these final lines like I have. Perhaps you think I'm worrying too much about a fictional protagonist in a minor hit song from 1993. 

You would be wrong. 

4. Here's the craziest thing about the song: 

The chorus is just the single word "pretty" stretched out over at least six bars of music and modulated vocally throughout those six or more bars. Except I would argue that the chorus isn't the word "pretty" but instead the second half of the word "pretty." It's really just the modulation of the second half of that word that makes up the chorus. Just half a work, and yet it's still catchy and easy to sing.

Crazy. Right?

Here are the lyrics in case you're unfamiliar (and if so, shame on you):


This bed is on fire with passionate love
The neighbours complain about the noises above
But she only comes when she's on top

My therapist said not to see you no more
She said you're like a disease without any cure
She said I'm so obsessed that I'm becoming a bore, oh no

Ah, you think you're so pretty...

Caught your hand inside the till
Slammed your fingers in the door
Fought with kitchen knives and skewers
Dressed me up in womens' clothes
Messed around with gender roles
Line my eyes and call me pretty

Moved out of the house so you moved next door
I locked you out, you cut a hole in the wall
I found you sleeping next to me, I thought I was alone
You're driving me crazy
When are you coming home?

Richard Marx is trapped in my head, and I didn't even know it.

My wife decided that the theme of our next Speak Up show at Infinity Music Hall in Hartford would be "Should've Known Better."

We decided this in the car on the way to New York. As she spoke the words aloud, I said, "Isn't there a song called Should've Known Better? 

And there is. It's a Richard Marx song from 1987 - almost 30 years ago.

The song never hit #1 on any billboard chart.
I've never owned a Richard Marx album.
I don't have a song by Richard Marx in my iTunes library.
I was never a Richard Marx fan. 
The song probably hasn't been played on a radio station since 1990.

And yet when Elysha played the song, I knew every single word. 

That song - one I don't partuicularly like by a musician I never particularly enjoyed - has been living in my head for almost three decades, just waiting to come out. 

Even Elysha - a woman who has more music in her head than anyone I have ever known - didn't know the lyrics to this song.

I knew every single word. 

I can't help but wonder what else is living inside my head, waiting for the moment to raise its ugly head. What other song or memory or bit of trivia is still lying dormant, as pristine as the day it was encoded into my biological hard drive, waiting for someone to ask the right question and bring it forth?

The brain is a strange thing. Capable of forgetting something you were told five seconds ago yet also able to retain enormous chunks of information over decades without any effort to maintain the integrity of the data. 

Oh, and I took a look at Richard Marx's other hit songs., I know at least six others by heart. 

Perhaps the man is simply a virus. 

Unnecessary repetition. Wasted opportunity.

I will never understand why songwriters repeat the first verse of a song as their third verse. Thankfully, it doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it can completely ruin a song.

Lee Ann Womack’s chart topping song I Hope You Dance is a perfect example of this. It’s a beautiful song and ideal for father/daughter and mother/son dances at weddings, but for reasons I will never understand, the first and third verses of the song are identical.

It’s still a lovely song, but I’m convinced that the unnecessary repetition prevents it from becoming an all time classic.

King Harvest’s Dancing in the Moonlight suffers this same problem. Though I still like a song a lot (and my wife loves it), the first and third verses are identical. The song has managed to remain in the public conscious for almost forty years, perhaps because the repetition is a little less noticeable in this song. While the lyrics play an enormous role in Womack’s song (and are probably the song’s most defining feature), Dancing in the Moonlight is more about the song’s overall musicality. You don’t need to know the lyrics of the song in order to enjoy it. 

Also, every single rhyme in the song is an –ight rhyme. There are only so many of those words in the world.

Not only does the decision to repeat verses strike me as unnecessarily repetitive, but it also represents a lost opportunity. The songwriter and musician had a chance to say more without appearing to say too much, but when given the chance, they opted not to.

I don’t understand it.