Better Love

Album: The Legend Of Tarzan (2016)
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Songfacts®:

  • Hozier wrote this song for the 2016 film The Legend Of Tarzan, a starring Alexander Skarsgard. "I was excited about the opportunity and the challenge of writing for this film project," said the singer. "After viewing an early edit, I was struck by the theme of endurance, and endurance of love through such a hostile environment. I wanted the song to be an intimate reassurance as spoken from one lover to another - one that might be issued in hardship or doubt."
  • The song deals with Tarzan's relationship with his wife, Jane, and also with nature. In the film, Tarzan is living in London when he is convinced to return to the jungle on a diplomatic mission that is actually part of an evil scheme (cooked up by the always dastardly Christoph Waltz, playing a nefarious Belgian authority). Nature, of course, plays a starring role and drives the story. Speaking with NPR, Hozier said, "You can stare long and hard at the lines we try to draw from nature, and we try to put order upon it, and you oftentimes come back with very, very little. The characters in the film turn their backs on the lines that we draw for an ordered society. Tarzan is born in nature and grows up in the jungle. He really has no place in ordered society and rejects it eventually."
  • Hozier had just three weeks to write and record the song. He saw a nearly completed edit of the film, and drew from the story, taking themes from the film and putting them into universal context in the lyrics, so the song could stand alone even without the film as reference - there are no references to specific characters or scenes.
  • At it's core, this song is about finding solace in a loved one, which is reflected in the title. Hozier explained: "Having seen how brutal and hostile the world is, you can come to the rather cold conclusion that there is no better love outside of that of which you find in your lover, and therefore you redress your view of the world in the arms of that person."
  • This was Hozier's first time writing for a film project.
  • Hozier played the guitar and keyboards on this track. His band members Alex Ryan (bass) and Rory Doyle (drums) also appear, along with an orchestra that was recorded at Abbey Road Studios - Ryan did the orchestral arrangements. Hozier had used string sections before on his recordings, but this was the first time he had an orchestra at his disposal.
  • Tarzan has been around since the 1910s, when he appeared in the story Tarzan of the Apes many film and TV adaptations followed, in both cartoon and live-action form. Many portrayals are campy and oafish, focusing on his jungle call and wildman charm. The Legend Of Tarzan is nuanced, and brings him into modern times. Hozier's song brings a similar complexity to the project, with abstruse lines like "Fire weeping from a cedar tree."

    Compare to the 1999 Tarzan, an animated Disney film with an Oscar-winning theme song by Phil Collins called "You'll Be In My Heart." Collins' song does transcend the film, but it's far more simplistic. Sample lyrics:

    This bond between us
    Can't be broken
    I will be here
    Don't you cry


    This makes sense, as the movie is aimed at children; Hozier might not be a good choice for a kids' film.
  • Regarding the line, "Chided by the silence of a hushed sublime," Hozier says that it refers to "looking at nature as an indifferent entity, so you think of the indifference of nature. Although it's very beautiful, it's also horrendously brutal at the same time."
  • Speaking with NPR about the line, "I have never loved a darker blue than the darkness I've known in you," Hozier said: "We often refer to darkness as a downside or a failing, but oftentimes that's through fear of wanting to address that. Tom Waits said 'You're afraid to drain the pool for what you'll find at the bottom of it.' But I think oftentimes within that you find your greatest strength and your greatest mettle. It doesn't have to refer to darkness as a bad or malignant way - it could be that part of us that challenges the other parts of ourselves or challenges the way we see things. That part of us that may be iconoclastic or reels against other things that you accept."

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