Songs from Musicals: #13, “Ten Minutes Ago,” from Cinderella

Honorable mentions: “The Prince Is Giving a Ball,” “Do I Love You Because You’re Beautiful?”

There are good love stories about people who have been in love for a while, maybe. There aren’t very many at all about people who consistently love each other throughout; they’re about people learning to love one another again, or about people who fall out of love in fiery fashion. Most of the good love stories are about people who fall in love. Depending on your ‘druthers, you may prefer the love stories where people are forced to give up their love and live with the consequences (Brief Encounter), die rather than give up their love (Romeo and Juliet), or live happily ever after falling in love (Cinderella).

I’ve been in love long enough that I occasionally forget what it’s like to have fallen in love in the first place. I don’t mean the honeymoon stage; that’s very different from falling in love, which is significantly more fraught and many orders of magnitude more important. One can, I think, relive a honeymoon stage over and over again, and probably should; one can even renew one’s love, which I think is sort of like reading a book that you’ve read many times before. But I hope to God that I never fall in love again; that would be too painful on too many fronts. In little moments – hints, really, or games of “remember when?” – the anxiety returns, the nervousness that she doesn’t love you back. The relief from that anxiety comes back, when you learn that she loves you too, or that she’s willing to put up with you loving her until she loves you back. You learn things in rapid succession, some of them affirming and some of them challenging, but all of them fundamentally new.

What draws me to “Ten Minutes Ago” is that it is about falling in love, and that it isn’t showy or flamboyant. Love is relief in this song, and togetherness, and touched with the supernatural. At first glance, it seems to twin with “Elaborate Lives” in structure: both songs do that thing where the man sings the new ideas and then the woman repeats it, seemingly because a duet is a better fit than a solo. Yet I like how it functions in “Ten Minutes Ago” much more; it’s a song about two people falling for one another, meshing themselves in a waltz and in identical lyrics. (Form follows function.) If love is oneness, and falling in love is the willing abnegation of some individuality in pursuit of a common goal, then “Ten Minutes Ago” is a delightfully pure example of a love song.

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