A friend of mine gave me the impossible challenge of picking the five “Greatest Love Songs.” He’s working on a lesson plan for his students and we’ve always had the practice of doing every activity we ask students to do.
Of course, I didn’t quite follow directions and I came up with various criteria so I could make choices. Lists are fun. And futile.
This also gives me a chance to post about “Love’s Labor,” a comic I recently wrote for Study Group’s Valentine’s Day series called “Modern Love.” It was a collaboration with artist Josh Burggraf. His work is fantastic. I hope we work together more. We’ve discussed something, but it all depends on time and timing.
What the exercise of choosing love songs revealed to me is that I gravitate toward the songs of either hope or despair, rather than the celebration of romantic love. Songs like “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac or “Dreaming” by Blondie. There’s a bittersweetness to these songs. I decided to eschew those as much as possible. And arbitrarily I chose songs in English (well, that is my native tongue so it’s not that arbitrary, but love songs don’t have to be in English) and vocal versions.
And like every list I write, I’m sure I violated my own rules at least three times.
I did strive to pick songs that mean something to me or affect me on a visceral level in a way that Mingus, Mahler, or Morricone have. I mostly listen to instrumental music.
These don’t suit you? Great. Go make your own list. Let me know and I’ll check it out.
My List of Fifteen of the Five Greatest Love Songs
2. “My Funny Valentine”: Frank Sinatra
3. “Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours”: Stevie Wonder
4. “What a Difference a Day Makes”: Lonnie Johnson
5. “You You You You You”: The 6ths
6. “Knocks Me Off My Feet”: Stevie Wonder
7. “In My Life”: The Beatles
8. “You Are the Everything”: REM
9. “Something Stupid”: Frank and Nancy Sinatra
10. “Stand By Me”: Ben E. King
Beach Boys + One
1. “Be My Baby”: The Ronettes
2. “Don’t Worry Baby”
3. “Good Vibrations”
4. “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”
5. “God Only Knows”