My Life Under the Covers – As Long As You Love Me – The Backstreet Boys

My Life Under the Covers

By Mary Scholz

Song Four: 

“As Long As You Love Me” by The Backstreet Boys

(written by Max Martin)

The Song that Taught a Girl to Stand Up for Herself…and that she was More Than Good Enough…

You knew this was coming…
Anyone who knows me well or has had a conversation with me about my musical influences through life knows that I was and will always be a die-hard Backstreet Boys fan.

And I’ll tell you exactly why.

I was first introduced to the Backstreet Boys at the age of 12. My friend Jillian was a fan. We had just finished the 7th grade. The songs were catchy. The boys were cute. And I got to go to my first concert since James Taylor when I was much younger. I made a sign that read “Brian I hope your heart Quits Playin Games” and thought I was the most clever girl in the world. (Brian Littrell had a heart murmur due to a hole that he had…in his heart…their first big single was “Quit Playin Games With My Heart…”)
We sang along and knew all of the dance moves and had an amazing time.

That’s the surface level reason.

Not only were their songs well crafted (thank you Max Martin), their harmonies tight and their shows incredible entertainment, they showed up in my life just when I needed them most. And they have continued to do so over the years.

As a kid I definitely went through bouts of depression. No one knew about it – I was very, very good at hiding it. There were many reasons for this – I felt largely out of place. Artsy in a school and neighborhood of athletes. Italian/German mix in a school with hard core Irish Pride. Glasses. Braces. Frizzy hair. I got picked on for having long hair when it was cool to have a short ‘do. I got made fun of for having crushes on the nicer, less popular boys in the class. I stood up for those boys when they got picked on but still was largely unrecognized by them. I felt guilty for having anything but gratitude and happiness towards life as I had been blessed with a loving family and a really nice, safe childhood. Being aware of this made me even more sad.
Despite the blessings, I had some rather dark moments.

I have always been aware that for whatever reason, I have been given the ability to experience intense joy and intense sorrow – usually coupled together, which I always found confusing. And I knew that there were so many more kids who had such difficult lives and struggles, so I felt…guilty. And invisible.

So where do the Backstreet Boys fit in? Well, if you’ve ever listened to any of their music, you’ll notice that most of their songs are geared towards placing them in the role of the guy on the outside, who sees a girl in pain and swears he’ll love her more than whoever is making her sad. A genius marketing tool as far as this adult music business individual is concerned. The 12-year-old-girl listened and believed.
She knew that those boys weren’t singing those songs to her…but she also knew it meant that somewhere, someday, someone would feel that way about her.

And somehow that was enough.

They also taught me to stand up for myself.
When I was in grade school, everyone listened to rap. I had no problem with it, but I just wasn’t digging Biggie Smalls the same way as I wanted to sing at the top of my lungs to BSB. So when we were assigned to cover our notebook with photos of things that inspired us, I included them. Kids laughed.
“The Backstreet Boys?!”
“Weren’t they here over the summer in concert? What did you go to their show too?”
I didn’t laugh it off or deny it as I might have before.

“They were – of course I did. We sat in the second row and it was AWESOME.”
Then, a popular girl, and I assume closet BSB fan…wide eyed…
“You sat in the SECOND ROW…?”
“Like I said. Totally awesome.”

I remember feeling so empowered by not backing down from who I was to appease people who thought they had a right to decide how I should feel about things.
Never mind that we sat in the second row of a section not exactly in front of the stage…
I made my point. My name is Mary. I have my own opinion and I don’t give a crap if you have a problem with that. Kids actually started treating me differently after that.

Theirs was the first cd I bought when I bought my first cd player. In keeping with tradition, every time I have gotten an iPod or any kind of music player…theirs is the first music I load on or listen to on it. It’s a lucky charm of some sort of mine.

They continued to release albums coinciding with difficult times in my life – deaths in my family, bad breakups, strained relationships…and they’ve always reminded me to be myself and keep looking forward.

So I will never deny them as a musical influence or their impact on my life. As a singer/songwriter it’s “cooler” to claim all of the amazing folk music influences that I do truly love…but I’ll always be completely honest about what a big deal this boy band was and is for me.
I’ve seen them in concert every summer that they’ve toured (minus this recent tour with NKOTB due to my travel schedule) and I will continue to buy their albums and be grateful for the fact that they saved a very sad 12 year old girl.

I picked “As Long As You Love Me” simply because it is my favorite.

And Max Martin, who wrote this song…well he’s the man behind the boys. Genius song writing – his (very shortened) list of hits speaks for itself.
Songs co-written by Max Martin:
Backstreet Boys:
As Long As You Love Me
Quit Playin Games With My Heart
Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)
I Want it That Way
Larger Than Life
Shape of My Heart
Show Me Love
Tearin Up My Heart
I Want You Back
It’s Gonna Be Me
Britney Spears:
Baby One More Time
You Drive Me Crazy
Oops!…I Did it Again
Bon Jovi:
It’s My Life
Celine Dion:
Love Is All We Need
Kelly Clarkson:
Since U Been Gone
Behind These Hazel Eyes
Feels Like Tonight
Katy Perry:
I Kissed A Girl
Hot n Cold
California Gurls
Teenage Dream
Last Friday Night
The One That Got Away

You get the idea….

8 thoughts on “My Life Under the Covers – As Long As You Love Me – The Backstreet Boys

  1. Hey Mary. I have never been big on country music, and certainly not the Backstreet Boys or pop music in general (though I have and always will love Michael Jackson). I am a “rock and metal guy”, for sure. Among other things.

    But I just wanted to say I really enjoyed this post, it touched me in a way that only people like you or I who had troubles in school and were the kids “on the outside looking in” would understand. I’m not a musician, I’m a writer, but I absolutely relate to a band “saving my life”. For me, at the tender age of 15, it was Metallica. I won’t go into details, but let’s just say for various reasons, I had a hard young life, and school just made it worse, and there were some very dark years there where walked around in a pretty suffocating veil of pain and anger and frustration. That’s not easy for anyone to deal with, let alone adding in the hormones and emotional BS of a teenage boy.

    Sufficed to say, I spent more time than I’d like to say, thinking about or even desiring suicide. And instead of turning to drugs, or pills, or violence, or booze, I turned to Metallica, who for whatever reason I was just then getting into in 1996. For me, it was their famous “Black Album”, most especially the song “The Unforgiven”. If you’ve ever heard that song, I’m sure you’ll know why. But that album in general, and eventually their other albums, were music, and lyrics, that I could really relate to, and channel all of my misery through. It helped sooth the darkness within, and I can honestly say that Metallica saved my life back then.

    There were other bands, other music, but they were the prime suspect. They were my Backstreet Boys. I didn’t get to see them live until I was into my early 20s, but it still meant a hell of a lot to me. And they are, still to this day, my fav. band of all time. So I definitely feel what you’re saying, and I wanted you to know that, for whatever it’s worth.

    P.S. Here is a beautiful song that fits with this theme perfectly, and I think might resonate with you especially because you’re a musician. It’s called “Darkness Within” by the band Machine Head. This is the acoustic version.

    And just in case, here is the original version.

    • Hi Jesse,

      Thank you so much for sharing that! I apologize, first, for the delayed response on my part!
      I think struggles you and I went through are probably more widespread than people admit and it’s for that reason that I think it’s a good thing to talk about. And it makes me so happy to hear another story about someone who was able to find the comfort and strength they needed in music, rather than finding more self-destructive ways to deal.

      I had a friend who’s Backstreet Boys was Metallica, too 🙂

      It’s amazing how greatly people we’ve never met can impact our lives, isn’t it?

      Thanks also for sharing the video, it’s a great song!

      • THIS IS US ALBUM it’s their best album since Millennium? . We don’t care any more about charts or about album sales the only thing that mrtetas now it’s that their are here with us they give us the chance to listen their great voices and they will do it for another 20 years .

  2. Mary,

    Oh don’t worry about how long it took! I just think it’s cool you actually read that and bothered to respond at all. Especially someone as busy as I’m sure you are. 🙂

    I’m a big AVGN fan by the way, and I think it’s awesome you helped work on the upcoming movie, can’t wait to see it. I’ve also got to say, that while I may be a rock and metal guy, I have varied musical tastes, and I’m a sucker for really good acoustic ballads. So I do in fact really dig a few of your songs. You have a beautiful voice.

    If you ever have time and want to check out some of my own “work”, feel free to check out my fairly recent endeavor, a blog entitled “Retro Revelations”.

    Cheers, and I hope everything is going great for you!

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