Silly Unconventional Love Songs

Via Kate, a call for love songs. I like most of the songs on Kate’s list, but as I tried to think of songs to add, I realized a couple of things: 1) I own more really good kiss-off songs than I do traditional love songs, and 2) even the songs that I like about loving relationships tend to be a little… odd. Make of this what you will.

Anyway, as a complement to Kate’s list of relatively conventional love songs, here’s a list of some odder tracks, mostly by less well-known artists. They’re all songs about love or people in love, but not quite the sort of thing you should expect to hear as the first dance at a wedding any time soon:

  • Papa Was a Rodeo by the Magnetic Fields. The romance of the century, involving truckers, cowboys, and gator wrestling.
  • Hey Julie by Fountains of Wayne. A sweet song about how much an office job sucks.
  • Mississippi by Bob Dylan. He never had a good voice, and what’s left of it is a wreck, but it works well for this song.
  • The Rock Show by Blink-182. Because snotty punk kids fall in love, too.
  • Just to See You Smile by Chuck Prophet. OK, this one is fairly straightforward and sappy, but not enough people have heard it.
  • Cooksferry Queen by Richard Thompson. Because “1952 Vincent Black Lightning” is too obvious.
  • North Bronx French Marie by Stew. I have a lot of odds and ends in my music collection. This is one of them, but it’s kind of sweet in an off-kilter way.
  • Lockjaw by the Rugburns. Another odd little song, from an album that swings between this sort of sweet little tune and ridiculous juvenalia.
  • Say Hey (I Love You) by Michael Franti. Because these needs something more upbeat to close it out.

So, there you go. This is deliberately skewed a little weird, even by my standards, because it’s more fun that way. It’s also skewed a little by the availability of good versions online– there are some great tracks that Google only turns up in off-key live versions, or weird edits.

Feel free to suggest more weird stuff in the comments. Be warned, though, that too many links (where “too many” is usually “more than two”) will put your comment in limbo until I get a chance to approve it.

Comments

  1. #1 Chrisj
    April 17, 2010

    I feel obliged to offer “I hold your hand in mine” and “The Masochism Tango”, both by Tom Lehrer.

  2. #2 MadGastronomer
    April 17, 2010

    Belaboring the Obvious, Spider Robinson

  3. #3 Paul Schofield
    April 17, 2010

    Ayreon’s Love is the first to jump to mind, more for bringing silly amounts of talented singers to bear on a silly little love song.

    Surprisingly conventional from a very unconventional guy; Devin Townsend Project – Ih-Ah.

  4. #4 Adrian Morgan
    April 17, 2010

    My favourite love song is “In Your Eyes” by Oysterband. (Ignoring the fact that the music gets a bit too loud when it climaxes). Lyrics: http://bob.bob.bofh.org/~giolla/oysterband/IYE.html

    You can hear a short excerpt as part of a medley of excerpts from my favourite CDs, representing my general tastes in music. http://outerhoard.wordpress.com/2010/03/13/nine-cds/

  5. #5 Kate Nepveu
    April 17, 2010

    D’oh! How did I forget Michael Franti?

  6. #6 Eric
    April 17, 2010

    Code Monkey, by Jonathan Coulton
    Into My Arms and Love Letter by Nick Cave
    I’m not sure how exactly my brain decided that No Children by the Mountain Goats should count as a love song, but it did.

  7. #7 cisko
    April 17, 2010

    I think I picked songs I like more than classic love songs.

    Dirty Projectors, “Stillness Is The Move
    Decemberists, “Yankee Bayonet” (in the ‘tragic love’ subgenre)
    Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, “Home” (Cheesy and arch, but catchy – you’ll either love it or hate it.)
    Death Cab for Cutie, “Grapvine Fires” (Note – the official video turns this into a tragedy, but they intentionally took that in a different direction from the actual lyrics. The lyrics themselves have more sweet in their bittersweet.

  8. #8 Ruth Ellen
    April 17, 2010

    The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl – Fairytale of New York

  9. #9 chezjake
    April 17, 2010

    Unfortunately, I can’t find a recording online, but I’d nominate T.R. Ritchie’s Why Does Love Make You Stupid, the chorus of which goes:

    Why does love make you stupid?
    How can your heart be so cruel?
    Watch out for that rascal, Cupid:
    You may think you’re smart,
    But when he shoots his dart
    You’ll find yourself playing the fool.

  10. #10 Simba
    April 17, 2010

    Skullcrusher Mountain by Jonathan Coulton. The pony never fails to provoke an ‘aww’ from me and my sister- I think we missed the point a little.

  11. #11 Rick Pikul
    April 17, 2010

    Well, given that this is ScienceBlogs we can’t leave out NaCl by Kate and Anna McGarrigle.

  12. #12 Dale Sheldon-Hess
    April 17, 2010

    “If I Didn’t Have You” by Tim Mincin

  13. #13 Craig
    April 18, 2010

    On the more conventional side of things you can’t go wrong with Bishop Allen’s “The Same Fire” – try to get the Daytrotter Session version – or Rhett Miller’s “Our Love.” I’ve been leaning towards the crazier love songs though, mainly Fight Like Apes’ “Tie Me Up with Jackets” and the surprisingly sweet “Naked, Drunk and Horny” from Yellow Note.

    No really, it’s surprisingly sweet. And mostly about home renovation.

  14. #14 Dan Miller
    April 18, 2010

    I’m going to second Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. Great song.

  15. #15 Eric Lund
    April 18, 2010

    A couple of unconventional love songs from my collection:

    Talking Heads, “Girlfriend Is Better”. We are told that “nothing is better than this, is it?” but aren’t given a clue why the singer likes this particular girlfriend.

    Sting/Edin Karamazov, “Can she excuse my wrongs”. Showing that the genre is at least a few centuries old. John Dowland wrote this song on behalf of the Earl of Essex, who was obviously having mixed feelings about the object of his affection (“Shall I call her good when she proves unkind?”). Essex was at one time a favorite of Queen Elizabeth I, who may have been the woman the song is about.

  16. #16 Bethany
    April 19, 2010

    Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters”
    Imogen Heap “Can’t Take It In”
    Frou Frou “Let Go”
    PSAPP “Hi”
    Every other song by Don Henley
    Nearly everything by Bryan Adams

    Mix-tape anyone?

  17. #17 David Wren-Hardin
    April 19, 2010

    Hold Steady “Chillout Tent”

    “They had the privacy of bedsheets
    And all the other kids were mostly in comas”

  18. #18 Watts
    April 23, 2010

    I always liked “New York City” by They Might Be Giants.

  19. #19 Anonymous
    March 4, 2011

    I think the ultimate unconventional love song–and perhaps the most beautiful song I’ve ever heard–is by Talking Heads. This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody). The lyrics when you really listen are surprisingly sweet, and heartfelt. Depicting pure, true and almost childlike love.

    Home is where I want to be
    Pick me up and turn me round
    I feel numb, born with a weak heart
    I guess I must be having fun
    The less we say about it the better
    Make it up as we go along
    Feet on the ground, head in the sky
    It’s okay, I know nothing’s wrong, nothing

    Hey, I got plenty of time
    Hey, you got light in your eyes
    And you’re standing here beside me
    Out of the passing of time
    Never for money, always for love
    Cover up and say goodnight, say goodnight

    Home is where I want to be
    But I guess I’m already there
    I come home, she lifted up her wings
    I guess that this must be the place
    I can’t tell one from another
    Did I find you, or you find me?
    There was a time before we were born
    If someone asks, this where I’ll be, where I’ll be

    Hey, we drift in and out
    Hey, sing into my mouth
    Out of all those kinds of people
    You got a face with a view
    I’m just an animal looking for a home
    Share the same space for a minute or two
    And you’ll love me ’til my heart stops
    Love me ’til I’m dead
    Eyes that light up, eyes look through you
    Cover up the blank spots
    Hit me on the head

    Sorry, I adore this song. David Byrne said, in 1984, that it was the only love song he had written. And I cannot think of a more romantic song (except for maybe Songbird by Fleetwood Mac). And the best part is that it came out of David Byrne!

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