I was watching VH1's "100 Greatest Love Songs of All Time", and I realized something. (Besides the fact that Jennifer Love Hewitt has no real purpose in life.)
They all sucked.
Not for any technical reason. But they were all the same song! All overblown, soaring power ballads, or sweet gentle ballads.
But they were all very...homogenous. All spoke of love as this one thing, soft, gentle, ethereal. No passion, no lust.
That's bullshit. Love is not ethereal, unless you're a 13 year-old girl writing drek in a "My Pretty Pony" Trapper Keeper. Love is harsh, love is gentle, love is demanding, love is forgiving, love is...well, as varied as the humans who fall in love. But this show didn't reflect that.
So I'm going to fix that. Presented, whether you approve or not, are what I think of as the ten best love songs that I've heard. No real order, hence, no numbering. There's a few artists on here more than once. Deal. And yes, all of these have been a part of one relationship or another, which is one reason why they stand out.
- "Feels Like Home", Bonnie Raitt.
- While this is not one of her biggest hits, it should be. Not overblown, no choral group in the background. Just a soft, song talking about how at last, they've found home. Home isn't a place, or a structure. It's a person. It's someone's eyes that have a special look for only one other person. Who's there for them. Who loves them back. It's a song from someone who's been around the block, and doesn't want much from love anymore, and finds that they've found, in this person, far more than they dreamed possible. If you can listen to this song, and not get at least a little choked up from what it's saying, then I kind of feel bad for you.
- "Love Letter", Bonnie Raitt.
- (Told you there were repeat artists.) This is not a gentle song of finding someone. This is a song of wanting someone, really, really bad. It may not even be love, but right now, the singer is a little too desireous of her target to care. The best part is that the target probably doesn't even know that there's a woman out there who wants to shove him down on the bed and do things until he's all fetal and whimpering. (Trust me. Guys are dumb. We never see shit like this.) She's got a target and a mission, and a plan. If only more guys were this lucky.
- "Temptation", Prince and the Revolution
- Yes, yes, I know, "what about 'nothing compares to u'?" Well, had not shinehead ruined that song for me, I'd think about it. Nah, screw that. I like this one better. It's a song about wanting someone. You don't want to talk, you don't want to hold hands, and unless you can cuddle doggie - style, that ain't on the menu either. The entire song is about heat, and sex. The background guitar growl, (Okay, the only other person who can layer guitars like Prince is Jimmy Page.), the percussion track, the bass line. This song is all about raw lust. Even the end, when "God" takes him away for focusing on lust too much works well. But then, this is Prince.
- "The Beautiful Ones", Prince and the Revolution
- A twisted look at love. The protagnist is in love, but angry. The target of the song is also seeing someone else, and the singer is pissed. It's almost a "WTF is up with that?" song. "You want ME, but you're also doing THAT?" The singer is laying it down..."Him or me". "I want you, but you have to choose, and choose now." Love is demanding sometimes. Love is not always selfless. This song captures that, but there's such passion too, especially in Prince's soaring vocals. They show that he doesn't want to force things, but he doesn't feel like he has much of a choice. Love does that sometimes, and this is one of a very few songs that deals with that side of love.
- "The Rain Song", Led Zeppelin
- While "Thank You" or "All of My Love" are usually considered the "Love Zeppelin" songs, I've always felt that "The Rain Song" was unfairly overlooked. It's a soft song, indeed, you can barely hear Plant's vocals for most of it. It talks about not a first love, found while hormonal fires burn hot, but rather a love found later in life, when the soul grows more contemplative. It's a song telling a loved one how they rescued the singer from a rather cold and lonely existance. Even the louder middle parts still manage to keep that softness, as though this was more of a song to be sung by the fireplace, and not in an arena full of screaming fans.
- "I'm Gonna Crawl", Led Zeppelin
- This is on the same album as "All of My Love", (In Through The Out Door), but is a different song. It's a blues-ier song, less of a devotional song, and more of a bald declaration, talking about the intensity of the feelings the singer has. It's passionate, and grand, without being overbearing. It's also quite simple in what it says: "I love this person with every fiber of my being, and if I need to crawl to her on my knees to show her that, then I will, and I don't give a damn what anyone else thinks of that." Plant's screaming vocals at the end, devoid of any attempt to make them anything but indicative of the raw emotion that love brings forth, makes this, in my opinion, not only Zeppelin's best love song, but probably one of the best love songs by any band.
- "Tuff Enuff", The Fabulous Thunderbirds
- Someone told me, not too long ago, "Sometimes, we don't want tenderness, or sensitivity. We want our man to be a man. Just throw us down on the bed, and take what you want." That's this song. It's a man's song. No pretense, no bullshit, no "Open Arms" like soaring vocals. Just a blatant statement. "Tell me what you want me to do for you, and it's done." This is a song sung by someone who will not hesitate to kick the shit out of someone who is messing with their woman. Perhaps that's always been an essential part of being a man, that protective streak, that willingness to smack the crap out of people when required. That's not always a bad thing.
- "Rock the Boat", Aaliyah
- It's too bad she died in such a lame, stupid, cliched way, because Aaliyah really was a hell of a singer. This song smokes. Blunt, to the point, "Get your clothes off and take care of my needs...now". Passion man, that's a huge part of love. Too many love songs are almost platonic, or afraid of the hot, sweaty, monkey-love that is what we need, and not just once in a while. The bass line, the keyboard line, and Aaliyah's abso-fuckin-lutely smoking vocals are damn - near Barry White - quality. This is definitely a song to get laid to, and contrary to what Diane Warren may want us to think, getting laid is a BIG part of love.
- "Oh! Darling", The Beatles
- Okay, I admit to liking the Beatles, but I like this stuff, not the overblown crap they did later in life. How can you NOT like this song? It's passionate. This is a great counter to the sterile perfection that Celine and the rest of the nimrods pass off as love. The vocals aren't perfect, the music is almost amateurish, and you almost cringe to think what McCartney was doing to his voice every time he sung this. But at the same time, it doesn't matter. It's earthy, coarse, basic, and above all, passionate. You can't sing this song if you think that love is something above baser emotions. I mean, if you get up in a Karaoke bar and sing this to the one you love, and they DON'T take you home and bang you senseless, there's something very wrong with that relationship.
- "Automatic", The Pointer Sisters
- Yeah, yeah, it's not a stereotypical "luuuuuve song". But damnit, love's supposed to be FUN too. You're supposed to LAUGH when you're in love, have FUN, be goofy even. Sure, whenever the other person walks in the room, your insides do a flip - flop, but that means you can't have fun? That you always have to be serious? Screw that. Even lovers like to dance, and bop, and bounce, and generally make fools of themselves, but SO WHAT? You're in love, there's someone who feels the same way. How can that NOT make you want to do goofy things that make them laugh until they cry? How can that NOT make you want to go dancing with them? When did the music industry decide that "love" and "fun" are mutually exclusive? I must have missed that memo.
So, that's my list, those are my picks. You may agree, you may disagree, but those are what I think should be at the top of any list of love songs, or songs about love.