The other night as I was lying awake, my thoughts rambled about the popular-music trope of the “book of love.” There’s the Monotones’ classic single, of course (“Oh I wonder, wonder, who boo-pe-doo, who, who wrote the book of love”), but Elvis Costello invokes it in “Every Day I Write the Book” and Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds recorded a single with Rockpile, “When I Write the Book (About My Love)” — subsequently covered by a number of performers. There was a band named Book of Love.
Is there a traditional background for this motif? Biblical tradition alludes to a “book of life,” and there’s the “talking book” tradition to which my radio conversation partner Allen Callahan refers in his book’s title. Am I forgetting a “book of love” tradition from folklore? Did the Monotones give birth to what became an utterly convincing folk-repertoire metaphor?