Top 10: Greatest Love Songs

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February 14, 2014 by NowhereButPop

by Andrew Doscas

I have a secret affinity for love songs, which at this point shouldn’t come as a surprise.  With it being Valentine’s Day, I figured this’ll be the best time to countdown my ten personal favorite love songs.  The songs on this list are actual love songs, inasmuch as they celebrate being in love; they aren’t about heartache and lost loves as we have the other 364 days of the year to think about those.

10) “Wonderwall”/Oasis

Best Line: “I don’t believe that anybody feels the way I do about you now”

A key aspect of my liking of a song comes from how sincere I think the singer/songwriter comes off as.  With his voice cracking and out of tune with the rest of the song, Liam Gallagher does more than enough to convince me of his and his brother (actual songwriter) Noel’s sincerity.  Ultimately it’s the intimacy of lyrics like “Maybe you’re gonna be the one that saves me” and “After all you’re my wonderwall” that create a personality to the song that makes us believe it was written for one specific person (which it was).  It brings to life the very real feeling that when you’re in love, the only other person who matters in the world, is the person you’re in love with.

9) “Leather and Lace”/Stevie Nicks and Don Henley

Best Line: “Lovers forever face to face”

Written by Stevie Nicks and performed along with Don Henley with whom she was dating at the time, there’s a very literal sense that they were both singing to and about each other.  It’s a pop love song about being in love performed by two people who were in love with each other at the time.  There’s a very world weary and sensitive angle to the song, but the message in spite of this is that even though “the heart’s so fragile” love is worth finding.  Both Nicks and Henley’s verse are soft and insecure, but there’s a certainty about their feelings and the absolute nature of these feelings that empowers the song.

8) “Can’t Help Falling in Love”/as performed by U2

Best Line: “Shall I stay, would it be a sin if I can’t help falling in love with you”

By far and away, the best version of this song was done by U2 during their ZOOTV tour in which they closed out more than half their concerts with this song.  Their cover is overflowing with a subdued innocence and bare sincerity that juxtaposed what U2 was doing at the time.  From the Edge’s shy guitar work to Bono’s angelic falsetto it’s as if the band perfectly captured that unparalleled moment when you realize you’ve fallen in love with someone.

7) “Just What I Needed”/ The Cars

Best Line: “I don’t mind you coming here and wasting all my time, cuz when you’re standing oh so near I kinda lose my mind”

A very simple and light hearted song that focuses more on the giddiness of being in love as opposed to heavy and contemplative feelings, “Just What I Needed” is more reminiscent of a more youthful and energetic love that’s found more often in junior high and high school.  It’s not the ribbons in her hair, nor is it the perfume that she wears, there’s just something inexplicable about her that makes the singer fall in love with her as he just can’t control himself whenever she is around.  “Just What I Needed” exemplifies a very excited and inexplicable sense of love that emulates a more youthful, if not naïve perception of love.

6) “December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)”/Frankie Valli

Best line: “Oh, I got a funny feeling when she walked in the room, and I, as I recall it ended much too soon”

 

Not nearly as innocent as the song initially comes off as, “December, 1963” is a feel good song about a past love.  It’s a sweet reminiscing of the girl you lost your virginity to, but it’s done so in a very innocent way as the singer is simply mesmerized by her sheer presence as she walks in the room.  He’s so enamored by her that she has captured his entire focus and although he’s attracted to her, she’s the one in control because of his naivety and lack of experience.  Even though “it ended much too soon” he’s still left with great memories that he can look back and smile on…a rarity in itself when looking back at past relationships.

5) “The Rain Song”/Led Zeppelin

Best Line: “I’ve felt the coldness of my winter, I never thought it would ever go, I cursed the gloom that set upon us, but I know that I love you so”

Not only is “The Rain Song” the equivalent “Stairway to Heaven” on Houses of the Holy, but it’s also one of the most beautiful and sentimental songs in their entire catalogue.  Musically, the song is a slow crescendo up until the climactic declaration of love.  Lyrically, Robert Plant compares finding love to seasonal affective disorder.  “The coldness of my winter”, the darkness and gloom and despair associated with winter is now compared to being without love and lines like “it is the summer of my smiles” reflect that finding an elusive love is comparable to the thawing out of that coldness.  The misery and frigidity and loneliness of winter cannot last with the onset of the warming and bright and chipper summer, just as the despair and gloom of being alone withers away once there is a love to shine a light through the darkness.

4) “Sweetest Thing”/U2

Best Line: “You can sew it up, but you still see the tear”

Even in the rough parts of a relationship there’s still love to be found, and that’s exactly what “Sweetest Thing” is all about.  Written as an apology to his wife, the song is a declaration of love from Bono to his wife, and that even though she is mad at him (rightfully so) he still loves her.  What makes this song so memorable, besides the video, is that it’s a love song that exists within the realm of more tumultuous times.  It’s saying that even in the bad times he still loves her and deviates from most other love songs that only mention the good times.  But it is through this test that proves the sincerity and truth of the love that served as the inspiration to this song.

3) “Because the Night”/as performed by Patti Smith

Best Line: “Because the night belongs to lovers, because the night belongs to us”

From the wondrously sublime passion of the opening piano melody to the eruptive empowerment that is the chorus, “Because the Night” is about a love that is fiery and unchained and passionate in its confidence.  This song is the closest embodiment of an actuality when you give yourself up to love and acknowledge your feelings to the fullest.  There is nothing shy or timid or unsure about this song at all; it’s representative of knowing that you’re in love and wanting the rest of the world to know that by screaming that the night itself belongs to you and your love.  This is the song that Bono says he wishes he wrote and his performance with Smith and original songwriter, Bruce Springsteen, prove it.  This is the song that plays in the background while lying with your love as you rest your head on her breast listening to her heart beat against the sound of the rain.

2) “Let My Love Open the Door”/Pete Townshend

Best Line: “When tragedy befalls you, don’t let it drag you down, love can cure your problems, you’re so lucky I’m around”

The opening keyboard scale along reveals the light and happy feel of the song, and it’s a song that puts a smile on anyone’s face whenever they listen to it.  “Let my Love Open the Door” is a song that puts a smile on our faces because it reveals to us a very real truth about ourselves-We want to love as much as we want to be loved.  This is the song that we want somebody to sing to us, that no matter what they just want to see us happy; it’s also the song that we want to summarize how we feel about someone.  The song is a message to Townshend’s wife telling her “don’t be upset or sad, I love you”.  It’s a very modest and simple song and because of this it has become the universal song that Pete Townshend had always hoped to write.

1) “Your Song”/Elton John

Best Line: “I hope you don’t mind that I put down in words, how wonderful life is while you’re in the world”

Elton John’s “Your Song” is the song I wish I had written.  Verbatim, these are the exact words that I want to say to the love of my life when (if) I meet her.  The key to most love songs are in their simplicity, as it is often the simplest acts of love that are the most sincere and powerful.  All this man can do for his love is write her this song that “may be quite simple”, but it’s the best he can do for her.  All he wants to do is write down how wonderful life now seems to be just by virtue of finding this one woman.  Life is so perfect simply because of the fact that she is in the world, and the singer can’t help but exclaim this simple but absolutely sincere notion to her.  Because when you’re in love, the world truly does seem like a wonderful place.

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