Love Stinks

There are 2 types of people in this world. Those that only really know the J. Geils Band song “Love Stinks” from its appearance in the Adam Sandler movie “The Wedding Singer”, and those that knew it before that time.

I loved the movie “The Wedding Singer”, don’t get me wrong, but I knew and loved the song “Love Stinks” when the album “Love Stinks” came out in 1980.


It was in constant play on my turntable and everyone that came over I made listen to “No Anchovies Please”. That was the weird spoken story, so unlike anything else on the album, and a novelty.

“Love Stinks” was of course all over the radio. A few other songs from the album took off too, but it was “Love Stinks” that was THE song. Undeniably.

What cemented this song in my memory though was not the radio play or even my own personal record. For me, this whole album will forever be linked to a trip my fellow classmates and I took to Washington D.C. early in high school. I’m guessing it was a freshman trip. I graduated in 1983 and the “Love Stinks” album was released in 1980.

At any rate, we all gathered on a warm Saturday morning at the school, luggage and backpacks and all sorts of stuff and loaded onto a caravan of school busses. These were the days before seat belts on busses or any other safety precautions that I can recall. In fact, as seats were crowded, I and a couple other friends climbed on top of the luggage that was piled into the back most seats and made a nice little flat area to relax on. We opened the windows and let the summer day and the noise of the bus and classmates wash over us as we excitedly began our journey.

At some point, someone who had brought a boom-box, yes a boom-box, put on the radio and we listened to the Top 40 of the day. It was fun and the microcosm of the bus began to dissolve from the tightly wound social groups into a more overall cohesive group. The boom-box was about mid bus and after about an hour of radio, someone popped in a tape. It was “J. Geils Band – Love Stinks”.

The bus broke out into pandemonium.

Suddenly we were all one complete unit, singing “Love Stinks” at the top of our voices and the entire bus was an accidental choir. Everyone was practically screaming when it hit the part were Peter Wolf belted out the actual lyric “love stinks!”. There were 40 kids shouting out the same phrase in unison. It was great. A moment I will never forget.

We listened to the entire first side of the tape, then flipped it over and did the second side. Everyone seemed to know all the songs and the ferociousness of the singing never waned. We were bonded over that music, on that trip, and I remember that bus trip as much or more than I do the visit to the White House, or the Smithsonian, Tomb of The Unknown Soldier, or even Ford Theater where we saw a play (whatever was playing at the time) that turned out to be a bit more risque than the school liked.

We had our photo taken on that trip.


I’m in the top row of the stairs… long hair and all with the huge glasses, but don’t bother trying to pick me out.

The photo is a reminder of the people on that trip, but the album “Love Stinks” is the catalyst for most of the memories.

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