It’s only make believe

By | 20 December 2016
'Conway Twitty' by Bradford Timeline used under Creative Commons Licence.

‘Conway Twitty’ by Bradford Timeline used under Creative Commons Licence.

This somewhat melancholy and mournful tune by Conway Twitty, was the 1958 Christmas number one.  Conway Twitty, (having changed his name and chosen two seemingly random towns as names), was an American singer and this was his first big hit.  The song was actually written whilst Conway was in Ontario, apparently he had become convinced that this is where success could be found.  However despite this song reaching number 1 in 22 countries , it didn’t immediately bring forth great riches.  Indeed, subsequently Conway resurfaced as a Country & Western singer and then after a few further false starts made his money creating the theme park ‘Twitty City’ in Nashville. (A marvellous example of assonance and consonance!)

But what of the 1958 Christmas Number 1? Here’s a brief extract:

My hopes, my dreams come true, my life I’d give for you,

My heart, a wedding ring, my all, my everything.

My heart I can’t control, you rule my very soul,

My only prayer will be someday you’ll care for me

But it’s o-only make believe.

The theme  of ‘unrequited love’ dominates the lyrics – perhaps not overly ‘Christmassy’ – but a theme nonetheless!  Perhaps I can explore this theme further in the newspapers – those sources that bring a whole new meaning to ‘it’s only make believe’!

Newspapers are of course a valuable source of information and we subscribe to many newspaper databases.  [It’s worth noting here for any Westlaw aficionados, that we don’t subscribe to ‘news’ content on Westlaw, so therefore the ‘news’ tab is defunct.  However you could still search some UK newspapers via the current awareness tab, you would however largely receive just an abstract, so to read the actual article you would then need to try a specialist newspaper database.  There is a ‘UK newspapers’ searchable group on Lexis going back to 1982, however the coverage obviously varies according to the publication.]

So, perhaps the best place to start, might be to look at OxLip+ via SOLO.  Here you can narrow your search down to newspapers, by clicking on the ‘subject tab’.  By doing this, you will retrieve 67 hits, clicking on the ‘i’ will furnish you with a little more information on the holdings and currency of each database.  The big two are Nexis and Factiva, the latter with a bias towards business information.

Firstly looking at Nexis, I can narrow down my search to a group of newspapers e.g UK national newspapers, or alternatively I can just search for and pick one source.  Being that us emotionally stunted British are possibly incapable of discussing my song’s theme of ‘unrequited love’,  I think I’ll start with The New York Times.  Search in the source box and click on the ‘I’ for currency information.  By typing in my search ‘unrequited love’ and asking it to appear in the headline produces three results. nexis new york times serach strategy

Immediately the one that grabs my eye is the third hit: ‘Pain of Unrequited Love Afflicts the Rejecter, Too.’  Whilst Conway’s song is all about the emotional state of the would-be lover, he never once considers the anguish felt by the rejecter – surely a huge oversight!  

The article discusses a study by Dr Baumeister and Sara Wotman that explores the impact on the ‘pursued’ rather than the pursuer’.  The findings of this research are published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.  A quick check on Solo and immediately I am taken to the online version of this journal via a database called Ovidsp – (sometimes we are allowed to use databases that are not strictly ‘law’!) For more information on this database do have a look at our Medical Law LibGuide.  By searching on the author’s surname, in this case ‘Baumeister’, I can see the report approximately half-way down the subsequent results list: Unrequited Love: On Heartbreak, Anger, Guilt, Scriptlessness, and Humiliation.  Indeed Dr. Baumeister concludes:

To refuse love, even unwanted love, seems to violate some deeply rooted and widespread human tendencies. Although many would consider it an enviable position to be in to have others offering love, in fact it turns out to be a difficult and upsetting position. ”  Baumeister, Roy, Wotman, Sara, Stillwell, Arlene ‘Unrequited Love: On Heartbreak, Anger, Guilt, Scriptlessness, and Humiliation’ (1993) Vol 64 (3) J Pers Soc Psychol 377, 394

But how has the path of true love (or not true love) changed over time?  Perhaps I can track the theme of unrequited love across one of our databases of historical newspapers.  Two immediately spring to mind – The Times Digital Archive and ProQuest Historical Newspapers.  Looking at the latter first, I can see a list of historical newspapers databases that it holds here.  I’ve selected The Guardian and Observer and used the advanced search option, so that I can search for my terms in the title of the article.

Here you’ll read many cases of tragic endings from the 1920’s when love remained unrequited.  They are quite fascinating if only for the enigmatic language used; for example we have the student infatuated ‘with a lady of irreproachable character’ and the youth ‘enamoured with a  maid on the farm’.

But what of Conway himself, was he writing from personal experience?  Perhaps we can glean more information on Conway by  searching for his obituary on the The Times Digital archive. (Keep it light they said – sorry!). times digital archive

This database can be found via Oxlip+, or you could simply search for it in SOLO. By keyword searching ‘Conway Twitty’ I quickly find his obituary.  The motivation for his song is not clear, but it is perhaps fair to surmise that having being married 3 times, Conway’s love was requited sometimes!

Perhaps we can leave Conway now with the oft quoted words of Lord Tennyson from his poem “In Memoriam A.H.H.” :

‘Tis better to have loved and lost

Than never to have loved at all’

By Nicola Patrick, Research Support Librarian