Here is my list of top ten love songs of all times. Category one…Seduction and Love Proclamations. When you, your parents, or your children were conceived, chances are one of these songs was playing in the background. I’ll list lost love under another category…Sad Songs.
“You Are So Beautiful,” written by Dennis Wilson (of the Beach Boys) and Billy Preston. Performed by Billy Preston and Joe Cocker. The preferred version depends on your genre taste. Cocker is soft rock and Preston is faux gospel. Both performances are moving. Both men look scary. The song is brilliant in its simplicity.
“Living For The Love Of You,” written and performed by the Isley Brothers. This is a beautiful melody from the greatest family act in the history of popular music. At their commercial peak Ronald, Rudolph,O’Kelly, Marvin, Ernie and brother-in-law Chris Jasper were the total package, producing, arranging, composing, and performing with little outside help. Jacksons, Osmonds, Bee Gees, Kings of Leon, Judds bow to the masters.
“Untitled (How Does It Feel),” written by D’Angelo and Raphael Saddiq, performed by D’Angelo. The video shows D’Angelo singing this song in a high falsetto voice and nothing else. Once he got dressed he went on to win a Grammy in 2000 for Best Male R&B Performance for this ballad.
“You’re Beautiful,” written by James Blunt, Sacha Skarbek, and Amanda Ghost, performed by James Blunt. This is a modern classic that will stand the test of time. Blunt’s lilting falsetto floats like a kite. This sweet melody describes the lust of seemingly unattainable eye candy. Expect to see geriatric couples slowly dragging each other around the nursing home rec center to this song 50 years from now.
“I Loves You Porgy,” written by George and Ira Gerswin, performed by Nina Simone. This is one of the strongest understated performances you’ll ever hear. It’s minimalist almost to the bone: voice and piano and damn she can play. This song is a real American treasure, on par with the Grand Canyon.
“Cherish,” written by Terry Kirkman, performed by The Association. While this song has been covered by many diverse artists the original version by Kirkman’s The Association is the definitive interpretation. The six part harmony backed by the electric folk arrangement eloquently tells the story of unrequited love. Prom night + this lovely 1966 number + a parked car = paternity test/shotgun wedding.
“I’ve Got So Much To Give,” written and performed by Barry White. This is 8 minutes of persuasive reasoning for swapping body fluids set to the environment of a moaning baritone crooner and a full string orchestra. Barry is one of the great all time romance singers.
“Always,” written by David Lewis, Jonathan Lewis, and Wayne Lewis, performed by Atlantic Starr. This lush, elegant ballad is actually nuptials set to music. The unfortunate legacy of this song is attending a wedding where some “singer” mauls this song like a pit bull in a chicken coop.
“(They Long To Be) Close To You,” written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, performed by the Carpenters. This song has been covered by countless artists including punk rockers the Circle Jerks (imagine that). But it’s Richard (piano) and Karen (vocal, drums), the Carpenter siblings’ 1970 release, that spent 4 weeks as the number one song in the USA and earned them a Grammy Award in 1971. Sadly, the Carpenters’ biggest social contribution came with the untimely death of Karen in 1983 which brought much needed attention to the then largely unheard of disease anorexia nervosa. Now people with eating disorders no longer have to suffer in silence.
“Let’s Get It On,” written by Marvin Gaye and Ed Townsend, performed by Marvin Gaye. This auditory aphrodisiac’s popularity transcends culture, age, politics, war, disease and contributes to global warming. Nothing all that complicated here; 4 chords, 2 bridges and a salivating singer. Marvin’s tenor/falsetto voice drifts in the air like smoke and cuts to the heart like a scalpel. His seemingly endless vocal ideas and phrasing carry the song as he keeps the melody coherent and relevant to the lyrics. The lyrics are soft but blatantly sensual. This is lechery at its finest.