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As many of you know, I love love. I am lucky to be in love and married to a great woman. I think often, though, about the nature of love. What is it? How do we notice it? Does it last forever? etc… In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, and a recent poll I heard on the radio about the “sexiest” songs of all time, I want to talk about love songs. It seems to me that the most popular love songs in music history are about the purest and most ideal pictures of love. I think, though, that the “best” love longs speak to the truth of love, relationships, and humanity.

There is certainly a place for celebrating and proclaiming “I will always love you” and “you are perfect (to me).” However, love songs take a step forward when they can speak to the uncertainty and risk of love, when they recognize and name the occasional irrationality or mystical nature of love, and when they suggest that deep love doesn’t always a great relationship make. At the same time, when a song can honor the truth of love while celebrating it in all of its passion, playfulness and power, then the best love songs rise to the top. Of course, if a song sounds good, it makes it all that much better.

VH1 did a ranking of the “100 Greatest Love Songs” a while back, this is their top 5:

1)Whitney Houston, “I Will Always Love You”

2) Elvis Presley, “Love Me Tender”

3) Celine Dion, “My Heart Will Go On”

4) Journey, “Open Arms”

5) Paul McCartney & Wings, “Maybe I’m Amazed”

My personal top-5 list is often changing depending on my current taste in music and new songs that are released (as well as how my views on love change, grow and mature). For now, here it is:

1) Wilco, “You and I”

2) Dave Matthews Band, “Steady As We Go”

3) The Pretenders, “I’ll Stand By You”

4) Journey, “Open Arms”

5) Dave Matthews Band, “You and Me”

It is really tough narrow down my list to just five, and the task of “ranking” songs is inherently difficult. Judging art is always such a struggle–albeit a fun, interesting, and often beautiful process.

I wonder, readers (if you didn’t ditch me after these past few weeks of slacking), what do you look for in a love song? And what are your favorite love songs? No need to rank them if you don’t want. Regardless of which love songs you like, I urge you to continue listening to them, whether as a reflection of feelings you have, have lost, or hope to have again.

Peace and love be with you all.

August 8th of this past year was a great day for me. It was the one-year anniversary of the ’08 summer Olympics–my favorite. Oh, and I got married. The wedding day (really, the entire weekend) was a whirlwind of activity, family, pictures, and smiles (almost all real). It was fantastic, but I’ve never really put my thoughts on that weekend, or marriage so far, on paper. Frankly, I’ve barely even talked about marriage in too much detail, save for with my wife. Don’t get me wrong, I am often asked, “How’s married life?” I seldom know how to respond, though, since…you kind of have to do it to find out.

I don’t feel like I can “sum up” marriage so far, but I want to comment on in a bit. First, I love it. There are definite ups and downs, but my best friend is almost always the first person I see when I wake up and the last person I see before going to bed (except, of course, when she is home late or up early). That, in it of itself, is wonderful. Moreover, it’s nice having someone to come home to. Conversely, it’s also nice to have someone come home to you.

Second, I don’t know if the life of a married couple is all that different from a couple who lives together and have acknowledged their intentions of a long relationship. The primary difference, I think, arises in the “getting married” part. We had tons of our friends and family (although unfortunately not all) surround us, embrace us as a couple, and we all recognized the love that Kirsten and I shared and pledged to do our best to make this relationship last. It’s really a communal action. Or ritual. For us (and for many), it was also about being intentional about bringing God into the community of support for our love and relationship. I have found that our relationship (and life) has changed because of this sacred ritual. On a day-to-day basis, there’s little that differentiates marriage from co-habitation. But the knowledge that God and a community of our loved ones honors and supports our love, through all the ups and downs, is powerful. And hope-giving. And just plain great.

“I do” were the best two words I’ve ever said. I thank God each and every day for my wonderful wife, and our fantastic friends and family. Thanks to all who have congratulated us in the past (almost) five months, and a special thanks to all who attended. Marriage is a touchy subject for many reasons, including GLBT marriage and a skyrocketing divorce rate (and polygamy…my wife it watching Big Love online). I am sensitive to and my heart breaks for those who don’t (or can’t) have a similar marriage experience, and I pray that they are someday able. So, next time you ask me “How’s married life?” I”ll give you my stock answer: “It’s great, but it’s not all that exciting.” It may not always be exciting (we spend more nights in that most), but what I really mean is, “It’s the best thing to ever happen to me and I’m forever grateful to my wife, God, and all my friends and family who support us.”

P.S. Sorry for the sappy post. I’m thinking sports or science tomorrow…

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