Mason Jennings’ next album was Boneclouds. It is more “pop” than his earlier albums. But that isn’t to take anything away from it. I want to focus on one song, “If You Ain’t Got Love.” The title makes it sound like just another love song. But it is actually written to the singer’s child who is born with a heart problem and may die.
In the song, the child survives. But maybe that is just an imagining. The point of the song is that love is something that transcends life and death. But also in the song is a theme that runs through all of Jennings’ work: that all we have is the present and we must grab onto it. That’s probably why I think later when the child jumps in the lake, it isn’t real. I imagine the singer in the hospital, loving that baby for what may be only minutes. But since love is eternal, it doesn’t end with the death.
I suspect most people will hear the song rather differently — and more positively — than I do. Regardless of how you see it, “If You Ain’t Got Love” is heartbreakingly beautiful.