The Greatest Love Song?

I received a message from someone who follows this blog asking me what I thought was the best “love song” of all time?  Wow that’s a really subjective question and as with everything to do with music also a question of taste. But when I thought about it, something still worth looking into.  So how do you evaluate what makes a great love song and let alone even pick which is the greatest love song?

Where do I start. Should it be based on popularity, sales? I can tell  you straight out what a shit love song is. (which is what’s prompted this question LOL).  Then what about music genre or decade? Importantly, should a love song generate mostly  “happy” or mostly a “sad” feelings to make it great?

Should it be something glowingly happy like Stevie Wonder’s “You are the Sunshine of My Life”  Or sad and heartbroken leading to the point of anger and destruction in “Somebody Kill Me” from ‘The Wedding Singer’ movie?

A great love song, or any song for that matter should stir some kind of human feeling and emotion in you. It should give you some meaning you can relate with. I think on this front I’m gonna go with selecting a song being mostly sad, but with some element of hope. Musically this song must also be excellent, in arrangement, voicing and its performance. So, now I think I have my filters lets see what I come up with.

I’m gonna cheat and come up with two great songs from the hour or so I’ve spent on thinking about this question.  The first song is “Come Away With Me” by Nora Jones.  While pretty simple, the lyrics of this song just melt along in Nora’s smokey voice.  She has that warm almost woodwind tone which sounds more like an instrument than just vocal chords. Sara Bareilles’ Gravity, (now this is beautiful song and contender but just too sad)  is another singer who also has this quality. The style and voicing of the song borders sometimes on slow blues, jazz and even country. I love the double bass and percussion combo arrangement in the live performances of this song.  Also the fact that the song works equally well when she plays it solo on the piano.

The lyrics and melody are not overly complex nor does it stir strong emotion with dynamics or its chord progression. But her message of hopeful desire to run away from the world to a promise of love clearly comes across.  I think that is also partly why I like it.  It makes me feel and imagine nostalgically what it would have been like to blow the dust off an old LP record of the song and half drunkenly slow dance drift away to it with your beloved.  Not that you couldn’t do that today. ‘Come Away With Me’ would still be the perfect song for that.

My second great love song is “Edge of Desire” by John Mayer.  Now this is a much more “intelligently” written love song, which doesn’t mean its stale or too clinical.  When you start with a brilliant song writer and guitarist with world class musos playing on the track, the ingredients are there already for a great song.

Firstly, the lyrics in this song are just outstanding, there’s not a wasted word. Nor a junk word. Mayer strings together perfect lyric lines filled with meaning and representation beyond their prose. It’s about the futility in arguments and the need throw out your white flag and surrender.  Going back against what you believe or are standing for, sometimes against your better judgement.  “Life is too short to just keep playing the game” Mayer says in the intro of this live performance. Giving in, swallowing your pride and just unplugging from the bullshit for a relationship to survive.

I can’t think of anyone else who can write better constructed and sounding arpeggios and patterns, no not guitar riffs. Parts which immediately reflect and project meaning and emotion. And melody.. sheez. Any chump singer sounds awesome on youtube when they cover this song. Which is proof in itself that the melody is a beautiful thing. I particularly like the drumming in this track too. From the snare type and tone selection to the bass drum pattern everything is well thought out and not overdone.  Same goes for the rest of the arrangement.

The highlight of this song for me is the powerful bridge section of the song about 3/4 of the way through.  It’s the climax of the song which could be dubbed under many a movie or video sequence featuring two lovebirds finally giving in to each other.  Like “boy” who desperately races out onto the airport tarmac to stop “girl” from leaving.  Or “girl who stands sadly in the rain when “boy” leaves on a train, then he jumps off it.  Maybe that is a sign of a great song – that you can imagine pictures or images from it.  The song creates your own personal movie.

So there you have it Grace01 thats my 2 cents worth in greatest love songs!

Edge of Desire

Young and full of running
Tell me where’s that taking me?
Just a great figure 8 or a tiny infinity

Love is really nothing
But a dream that keeps waking me
For all of my trying
You still end up dying
How can it be?

Don’t say a word, just come over and lie here with me
‘Cause I’m just about to set fire to everything I see
I want you so bad I’ll go back on the things I believe
There I just said it, I’m scared you’ll forget about me

So young and full of running, all the way to the edge of desire
Steady my breathing, silently screaming,
“I have to have you now”
Wired and I’m tired
Think I’ll sleep in my clothes on the floor
Maybe this mattress will spin on its axis and find me on yours

Don’t say a word just come over and lie here with me
‘Cause I’m just about to set fire to everything I see
I want you so bad I’ll go back on the things I believe
There I just said it, I’m scared you’ll forget about me

Don’t say a word just come over and lie here with me
‘Cause I’m just about to set fire to everything I see
I want you so bad I’ll go back on the things I believe
There I just said it, I’m scared you’ll forget about me

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