Monday, February 13, 2012

top ten love songs: part II (the awesome stuff).

It’s time to move on to Part II of my Valentine’s Day song list. This list is much more up my alley: nothing sugary sweet about these songs. These are the songs that are really not all that romantic, but they’re still about love (unrequited or otherwise). I like to call this set of songs “Less Romantic, More Awesome.”

Boston: “More Than a Feeling”
Nothing says love like rock from the late 1970s. “More Than a Feeling” is about, as I’m sure you know, a woman named Mary Ann and how much the lead singer wants her back. Some old familiar song triggered all sorts of memories, and now we’ve got this awesome song. It may be cheesy and over the top, but I dare you NOT to rock out when they get to the guitar solo.

Rocky Horror Picture Show: “Dammit, Janet”
Ever since I first heard this song, I’ve wished I had a friend named Janet so I could address her as such. This is one of the first few songs of Rocky Horror, before the cross dressing really kicks in. This song is how Brad (Barry Bostwick! awesome!) proposes to Janet (a pre-Tim Robbins Susan Sarandon). It’s really cute: “the road was long, but I ran it (Janet)/there’s a fire in my heart and you fan it (Janet)/if there’s one fool for you than I am it (Janet)/I’ve one thing to say, and that’s dammit, Janet, I love you!”

Rainbow: “Since You Been Gone”
Not to be confused with the Kelly Clarkson song of the same title, Rainbow’s “Since You Been Gone” is pure late 1970s delight. With their piercing near-falsettos and all that guitar, you can’t help but love it. “Since You Been Gone” is very much along the lines of “More Than a Feeling,” except that the Rainbow guy was reminded of his girl by a dream (as opposed to the Boston guy’s song reminding him of Mary Ann). Short on subject material? Maybe, but I’ll take it.

The Kinks: “Lola”
“Lola” is a sweet little song about a young man who encounters a woman named Lola in a Soho club. He is impressed by Lola’s size and strength: “when she squeezed me tight, she nearly broke my spine.” However, at the end of the song, he realizes that Lola is not who she seems: “I’m not the world’s most masculine guy, but I know what I am, and I bet I’m a man… so is Lola.” What makes this song really sweet is that he stays with Lola all the same.

Adam Sandler: “Red Hooded Sweatshirt”
“Red Hooded Sweatshirt” premiered on Saturday Night Live especially for Valentine’s Day, and it’s a love song from Adam Sandler to his red hooded sweatshirt. Generally, I don’t think Adam Sandler is that funny, but this song is wonderful. The best line from the song goes: “oh, what is it about you that makes me so jolly?/is it your 50 cotton, or your 50 poly?” My friend Allison introduced me to this song, and she spent a fair amount of time searching for the perfect red hooded sweatshirt: of course, it had to be 50% cotton and 50% polyester. This was more of a challenge than one might realize when you are too young for a driver’s license and your only real shopping option is the Brookings WalMart. Allison did eventually find her red hooded sweatshirt, and I’m certain she sang this song every time she wore it.  

Nelson: “(Can’t Live Without Your) Love and Affection”
Meet the Nelson brothers: Gunnar and Matthew, owners of some of the most glorious hair I've ever seen. They are twin sons of Ricky Nelson, who in turn is the son of Ozzie and Harriet. The Nelsons were once listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the only family to reach number one status in three successive generations. Anyway, this song was written about a crush on Cindy Crawford, which makes the song slightly more creepy. In any case, it’s the epitome of early 1990s rock, and I love every second of it.

Johnny Cash: “Ring of Fire”
You can always count on the Man in Black’s for something wonderful. Cash himself stated that this song is about “the transformative power of love,” so I’m going to go ahead and take his word for it. As we know, love can burn, burn, burn. But when you’ve got Johnny Cash singing to you about it AND you add a mariachi band, you’ve gone one great song.

The Turtles: “Elenore”
After their number one hit “Happy Together,” the Turtles were asked to create more songs like it. Their cheeky response was “Elenore,” possibly the only Billboard Top 100 song to contain the phrase “et cetera.” The lyrics go: “Elenore, gee, I think you’re swell/and you really do me well/you’re my pride and joy, et cetera.” How can you not love a song with lyrics like that?

Queen: “Somebody to Love”
This song is about the lack of love, but it’s a love song all the same. Freddie Mercury just wants somebody to love – is that too much to ask? The lyrics really are quite sad: “each morning I get up, I die a little/can barely stand on my feet.” Poor lonely Freddie! Though it’s kind of depressing, “Somebody to Love” showcases Freddie Mercury at his best… the man had a VOICE.

Meatloaf: “I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)”
This song falls into the “songs I totally love but don’t want to admit it” category. But now I'm admitting it to the internet. Who can resist Meatloaf, anyway? Not me, that’s for sure. He had me with that rockin’ keyboard intro. As the title suggests, the song is all about Meatloaf doing anything for love – except that. What is “that”? Only Meatloaf knows, and he’s not telling.
So that's my list: twenty of my favorite love songs of all time. I don't know about you, but I'll be listening to any combination of these songs on Valentine's Day while I eat my candy and spend the day dotting my i's with little hearts. Ok, so I won't be doing that last part... all day. Whatever you end up doing, I hope you have a great Valentine's Day with your spouse, partner, boy/girlfriend, family, pets, or whoever loves you. :) 

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