Local Current Blog

Chan Poling talks about ‘Love is the Law’ and same-sex marriage in Minnesota

Nate Ryan/MPR

With the same-sex marriage bill expected to pass through the senate on Monday and be signed into law by Governor Mark Dayton on Tuesday, supporters of the marriage equality movement are going to have something to celebrate next week. And the first song they’ll play when the bill is passed? The Suburbs’ 1984 hit “Love is the Law.”

A passionate supporter of the same-sex marriage bill, Chan Poling of the Suburbs offered up his band’s song to Minnesota United as the campaign was heating up, and if things proceed as expected he’s planning to perform that song live on Tuesday night in St. Paul.

Poling was on the Current’s Morning Show today to chat with Steve Seel and Jill Riley about his iconic song, its role in the same-sex marriage campaign, and why he believes that that love truly should be the law.

Chan Poling: Honestly I can’t remember who thought of the idea, but somehow it popped into my head that it’s a great theme song. So I simply just got on my Facebook page and I said, does anybody know how to get in touch with the Minnesota United campaign? Because I want to offer this song. I think it’s a great idea. Whenever you have a hook or a theme, anything that can kind of elevate the brand that you’re trying to put forth, it’s just a good idea. So as soon as I put that little spark out there—I mean the thing just combusted. It was just crazy, the response I got. And then it’s just gotten more and more viral and there’s so much excitement, it’s just great.

Jill Riley: What was the original inspiration for the song “Love is the Law”?

Poling: Well it’s really simple, it’s right in the lyric. I was walking—I used to live by Rudolph’s Barbeque on Lyndale and Franklin—and I was walking downtown, and the Hennepin Avenue overpass was spray-painted with some grafitti that said “love is the law.” And I thought, god, that’s a great title for a song. And then the first verse is me simply saying that I was walking down the street and that I saw it written there. And you know, it’s just a universal truth, right?

Seel: And now it’s taken on all sorts of new meaning, and it’s an official campaign, with t-shirts and graphics tying in your song title and phrase?

Poling: Yeah, they’re using the song for ads, and for videos, and as a soundtrack—and as a matter of fact, different versions, like the Brothers Frantzich singing it is one of the soundtracks for an ad. It just couldn’t be more perfect. And I’d like to take credit for it but it just kind of fell into place, it just fit just right.

Riley: There’s a New Standards version of the song as well. Chan, have you been asked to re-record the song, or to perform it along with the campaign?

loveisthelawshirtPoling: Well, as a matter of fact, yes. I think you might find us up on stage at the big celebration after the governor signs the bill. That’s a little bit of news that I don’t know if I should be sharing, but there it is. You heard it first on the Current! [laughs] It’s expected to pass in the senate, and the governor is expected to sign it, and unless all hell breaks loose, we’re going to be partying on Tuesday night and the Suburbs will be there.

Seel: And you also have another New Standards performance that’s kind of a germane tie-in as well, because you guys are playing Pride?

Poling: I know! It’s just perfect. We got that gig before all this, and we’re going to be playing second to last at Pride, on the main stage. And we’re bringing our big band, kind of our holiday show band, with the drums and the horns and everything. So it’ll be the New Standards Big Band and we’ll definitely do “Love is the Law” and have guests up there singing—I already got Camille Gage, and some political types and artists to kind of sing back-up. Whoever wants to jump up there and sing, can sing. If we can get Governor Dayton up there, that’d be great.

Seel: So that’s Pride, which is taking place on Saturday, June 29, with the New Standards performing “Love is the Law.”

Poling: Yes!

Riley: So Chan, in closing, why for you personally is the issue of gay marriage so important?

Poling: Well it’s very close to home. My son and his partner, Thomas, are in a civil union, and they want to be legally married. They live in California. And I was really pleased yesterday to call him up and say, “Come on home to Minnesota and get married!” We all want to go to a wedding, you know. And they’re planning on it in California. So I think, just personally, I’m going to take any kind of proceeds that I can get from this thing and try to spread the word out nationally, too, and maybe make a change in California and other states as well.

Stay tuned to the Local Current blog and follow @LocalCurrent for more info on the big celebration planned for Tuesday evening in St. Paul. More details are expected to be announced on Monday, around the same time as the senate votes on the pending same-sex marriage bill.

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    Chan Poling in the Current's studios (Nate Ryan/MPR)