Tina Charles loves to love

…but her baby just loves to dance, he wants to dance, he loves to dance, he’s got to dance…

I was in Salamanca in Spain in 2006 during the Feria de Salamanca and I heard this song a few times. I’d never heard it before. It sounded 70s-ish but you can’t necessarily tell the age of a song by how old it sounds – Hey Ya! (2003) by OutKast sounds decades older than it is while Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean (1983) is ageless.

I tried to work out what the song was but hadn’t pinned down the lyrics well enough to do an online search. There are search engines to match your singing if you can sing in tune but that’s a talent I don’t have. So it remained a mystery to me. I even tried searching for hit songs in Spain in 2006. It appeared nowhere on any list.

After a subsequent and longer stay in Spain in 2011 I discovered the wonderful RTVE.es website. One tv series I discovered on it was “La huella del crimen.” I didn’t know at the time that each episode is about a famous real-life case that occurred in Spain.

The third and final series featured the episode “El Secuestro de Anabel” and was about the horrific 1993 abduction and murder of Spanish woman Anabel Segura. She was kidnapped off the street by a pair of opportunists who decided to abduct someone from a rich neighbourhood and hold them for ransom. They hadn’t prepared in any way and had no measures to keep the unfortunate woman alive while they plotted for a ransom, so they murdered her the same night. Her body was not found till the case was solved two years later.

At the end of the television episode, when the case is solved but it’s clear that her family will never be the same again, Anabel’s mother picks up her dead daughter’s walkman, puts on the headphones and presses the play button. I Love to Love starts playing. I recognised it immediately as the mystery song from 2006. Had it been a hit that year, or in the year of the abduction? No. But by playing the scene a few times I was able to decipher the lyrics. One internet search later and a quick listen to the YouTube video and I had identified the song.

It actually dates from 1976. Why was it popular in Spain in 2006? I have no idea. I do know that in some European countries, English-language songs become popular in ways that foreign-language songs rarely do in English-speaking countries.

Anyway, I like the song and Tina Charles can definitely sing.

As an interesting extra detail, YouTube comments under some of the videos of the song mention a BBC program called “River”. This was a television series from 2015 that only ran for six episodes. In the last one, towards the end, there’s a scene that features the song very prominently. I never watched the show and don’t know what it’s about but that scene seems to have made some new fans of the song.

The Melancholy Roman