Love is either our best friend or our enemy, there’s no in-between. An emotion that brings out the best and the worst of us, we can all agree what this world needs is a little more love. Love songs in popular music run an entire spectrum: from lovey-dovey, ooey-gooey, gag me with a spoon nonsense (I’m a big fan of Celine Dion’s) to avoidant (also a big fan of cheesy complainers aka Nazareth’s ‘Love Hurts’) to down right distressed – Aerosmith’s ‘What It Takes’ anyone? Either way there’s no escaping the power of love.. Don’t worry. I’m not singing Celine Dion right now. You are. Here’s a spectrum of classic love songs to give a listen to at your leisure.
“To feel the love of people whom we love is a fire that feeds our life.” -Pablo Neruda
5. Pale Blue Eyes – The Velvet Underground
“The fact that you are married / only proves you’re my best friend.” Off of the groundbreaking band’s self-titled 1969 album, this Velvet Underground song heartbreakingly details the relationship between the narrator and his best friend with whom he’s having an affair. It’s not a song that most people can sweetly dedicate to their girlfriend or boyfriend, but something to be played in secret, reminiscing regretfully on an unfortunate love. The guitar weeps in anguish, backing up Lou Reed’s plainly sung lyrics. Lyrics that don’t get anymore poignant.
4. Hope I Don’t Fall In Love With You – Tom Waits
“Well I hope that I don’t fall in love with you / cause falling in love just makes me blue.” Waits is a songsmith who can take a simple melody, a guitar, some poetry, twist those things around in that secretive magician type way only the best can and create a masterpiece. Much like the previous song on this list, ‘Hope I Don’t Fall’ is heartbreaking. There’s no other word for it. I’m not going to admit to crying along to this song at some point. Nope, not going to do it. In a crowded bar with music playing, wondering if he should bum a cigarette, this track is the epitome of “I fell in love with a stranger”.
3. Can’t Help Falling In Love – Elvis Presley
“Take my hand, take my whole life too.” Well gosh, Elvis, I can’t help falling in love with this song. There seems to be a common theme with love songs – a sense of helplessness, it being something out of your own control – and this 1961 track fits that bill perfectly. Covered over the years by everyone and their brother, the original is the one that awakens the most feeling.
2. Unchained Melody – The Righteous Brothers
“And time goes by so slowly / and time can do so much / are you still mine.” The way the last line is sung makes this one gut wrenchingly beautiful song to your lover, with singer Bobby Hatfield belting out his adoration for a lover afar. If ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’ has been covered by everyone and their brother, ‘Unchained Melody’ has been covered by everyone, their brother, and the next door neighbor, with over 670 artists giving it a try over the years. One of the original covers – The Righteous Brothers – is obviously the definitive version just for the hunger and longing alone in Hatfield’s vocals.
1. Wonderful Tonight – Eric Clapton
“And the wonder of it all / is that you just don’t realize how much I love you.” Not to spoil anything but… I’m 98% positive Eric Clapton is actually Cupid in human form and we’ll all find it out one of these years on Valentine’s Day. Sure, it may not have happened yet, but there’s still time. About Clapton’s wife, model Pattie Boyd, the track off of 1977’s ‘Slowhand’ album was written while waiting for her to get ready to attend a party of Paul and Linda McCartney’s. The moral of the story? A guitar and some sweet sweet lyrics are all it takes to emote love.