Tough decision: Whether to make “Have I Told You Lately” the third Van Morrison song on this blog (others here and here), or the second Rod Stewart song (first here). Morrison wrote it, sang it well and made it a hit, but I like Stewart’s version better (and it did even better on the charts) so that’s the one I’ll post below.
Chances are, some people would be confused by the Morrison-versus-Stewart issue, thinking I’m writing about another once-popular song with an almost identical name and with some identical words. “Have I Told You Lately that I Love You?” was written in the 1940s and became a hit a decade later when sung by Lulu Belle and Scotty. It was also sung by “Gentleman Jim” Reeves, among others.
And I debated the inclusion of either song, since that particular question has always bugged me, in the same way that I’ve always been irritated by the birthday and anniversary cards intended for a loved one — usually a wife, sometimes a parent — saying some version of, “I know I don’t tell you often [or often enough] that I love you, but…” My mental reaction, as I’ve suggested previously, typically is something along the lines of: “Well, why haven’t you said it, you idiotic schmuck? And you think some five-dollar card is going to make up for that? Geez, I hope you don’t expect not to be poisoned if that person ever cooks for you.”
OK, so maybe I sometimes overreact to what I read in supermarkets.
Joanna and I tell each other “I love you” often — typically multiple times a day. It has been the last thing each of us said to the other almost every night for 33 years (well, excluding when we’re talking in our sleep). Of course, saying something can be easier than showing it: While I tell my wife that I love her, I sometimes fail to do the sample things that mean a lot, such as keeping things neater than at home than I do my office.
I do notice if she gets a haircut, but sometimes fail to notice that she has cleaned or decorated some part of the house, how nice she looks before we go out, or what earrings she is wearing. That last item is more relevant for us than it might be for some couples, since I have bought Joanna most of her earrings. She seemed to be one of the last women in American without pierced ears when we met, and had them pierced shortly thereafter. Since then, I’ve been adding to her collection. Almost every time I travel out of town, I bring back earrings as a souvenir.
Back to “Have I Told You Lately”: Though the first question it asks is silly in our case, some of the other lines ring deeply true. Joanna does “fill my life with laughter” — even after 33 years, we crack each other up, and we laugh together more than any other couple I know. My wife virtually always knows how to “take away my sadness, fill my life with gladness [and] ease my troubles” whether with the right words, a simple smile, or one of her amazing pies.
Lyrics here, with video of a live Stewart performance below.