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.
I feel obliged to offer "I hold your hand in mine" and "The Masochism Tango", both by Tom Lehrer.
Belaboring the Obvious, Spider Robinson
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/
D'oh! How did I forget Michael Franti?
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.
The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl - Fairytale of New York
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.
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.
Well, given that this is ScienceBlogs we can't leave out NaCl by Kate and Anna McGarrigle.
"If I Didn't Have You" by Tim Mincin
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.
I'm going to second Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. Great song.
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.
Metallica's "Nothing Else Matters"
Imogen Heap "Can't Take It In"
Frou Frou "Let Go"
Every other song by Don Henley
Nearly everything by Bryan Adams
Hold Steady "Chillout Tent"
"They had the privacy of bedsheets
And all the other kids were mostly in comas"
I always liked "New York City" by They Might Be Giants.
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!