“The Big Love Has Died” is a BIG ballad. Sweeping strings. Hopeless lyrics. A chorus that crescendos to a high, before an unexpected drop.
If anyone could sing this song, it’s Seal. His partnership with producer Trevor Horn gave pop some of its best ballads of the 90s. In fact, I’m not sure anyone except Seal could pull off an epic ballad like this – especially given his very public break with model Heidi Klum. Seal was never one for providing a lot of detail in his music (he doesn’t even put song lyrics in his liner notes1). Still, he did admit to some influence from his personal life on “Big Love…”:
You try to be adult about [a breakup], be mature and objective and positive about it, but unfortunately that’s not the reality at the time. When that wound is still fresh your immediate reaction is to be damning and final, to want closure, to forget, to move on. To live in denial. That is the immediate emotional survival mechanism. I wanted that song to capture that in a way that people could relate to it.
-Seal, as interviewed in the Daily Telegraph
Trevor Horn gave a more succinct answer: “Over the past few years, Seal has been through the tumble dryer of love. He gets sad on the record. You can hear him being sad, but you can’t hear him being bitter.”
I love the honesty that Seal sings with in this song. Whether it’s about his divorce or a break-up with his high-school sweetheart, it’s a truthful, yet tasteful, take on the sadness and hopelessness that comes from a failed relationship.
- As he explained in the liner notes on Seal II: “One of the most popular questions people seem to ask is “Why don’t you print your lyrics on the album?”. Well the answer to that is that quite often, my songs mean one thing to me and another to the listener. But that’s OK because I think it’s the general vibe of what I’m saying that is important and not the exact literal translation. How many times have you fallen in love with a lyric that you thought went “Show me a day with Hilda Ogden and I’ll despair”, only to find that it went “Show me a way to solve your problems and I’ll be there”. I guess what I’m saying is that the song is always larger in the listeners mind because with it they attach imagery which is relative to their own personal experience. So it is your perception of what I’m saying rather than what I actually way that is the key.”