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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.