Friday, March 20, 2009

Weekend Listomania (Special L'Amour, Toots Shor L'Amour Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental groinal manipulator nutritional advisor Fah Lo Suee and I will be travelling to the fabulous off-shore resort L'île des Bonifications de Conservation (or Island of Retention Bonuses) for the first annual AIG "Eat It, Suckers" retreat and pig roast.

As a result, posting by moi will necessarily be sporadic for a few days.

But in my absence, here's a fun project for you all to contemplate:

Best Post-Elvis Love Song and/or Record!!!

Self-explanatory, obviously, so no arbitrary rules this time -- the song can be rapturous, bitter, horny, whatever. Just nothing about animals, please.

Oh, and don't give me any of that Stephen Merritt/Magnetic Fields bullshit, cause I don't want to hear about it.

Okay, here's my totally top of my head Top Six:

6. You Belong to Me Now -- Candy Butchers

I actually think this is the single most beautiful song written in the English language in the first decade of the 21st century. And if Mike Viola isn't on anybody's short list of the most emotionally compelling rock singers ever, I don't know who should be.

5. Here Without You -- The Byrds

Gene Clark at his most gorgeous, with the possible exception of "The World Turns All Around Her," for which I couldn't find a video. Why this one isn't a more often-covered standard is beyond me, although I seem to recall Richard Thompson did a nice version on a Byrds tribute album in the 80s.

4. Frederick -- Patti Smith

Frederick, as in her husband, the late Fred "Sonic" Smith, of MC5 fame. This song has killed me since vinyl days -- you can't help but wish that someday somebody would write as obviously felt and eloquent a love song about you. The chances are slim, of course.

3. Don't Worry Baby -- The Beach Boys

Heartfelt and heartbreaking, and one of those personal, confessional songs where Brian Wilson more or less invented the whole personal, confessional LA singer/songwriter genre that everybody thought was such a big deal when people like Joni and Jackson did it years later.

2. Andalucia -- John Cale

From one of my absolute favorite albums of all time, and ineffably touching, I think. No video, alas, but you can download the mp3 here. BTW -- the guy doing all the gorgeous guitar stuff is a pre-Little Feat Lowell George, whose name was left off the credits until the most recent CD reissue.

And the number one not necessarily silly love song, I think for a change we're all going to agree on this, obviously is --

1. Here, There and Everywhere -- The Beatles

One of the two most perfect pop records Paul McCartney ever made with his first band (the other, obviously, is "For No One") and all the justification for his knighthood anybody could possibly need.

Awrighty then -- what would your choices be?

[Shameless Blogwhore: My parallel Cinema Listomania -- theme: Nazis: I Hate Those Guys! flicks -- is now up over at Box Office. As always, if you could be kind enough to go over there and leave a comment, it would ensure my continuing post-AIG bonuses. Thanks!]


Dave said...

This is hard. Aren't more than 50% of all songs love songs?
I'm going to think of 80 or so after I wake up, but these are the first ones that pop into my mind at 5:45 a.m.

"I Can't Make You Love Me" -- I'm not a Bonnie Raitt fan, but this song gets me every time. Pop has rarely been more adult. Or sad.

"God Only Knows" -- Beach Boys (could have chosen scores more Brian Wilson compositions)

"Blame It On the Sun" and "Ribbon in the Sky" -- Stevie loses and wins.

"Fall at Your Feet" and "Don't Dream It's Over" -- Crowded House. Finn knows the ways of love.

"The Makings of You" -- Curtis Mayfield. Naked romantic love.

"Let It Be Me" and "Crying in the Rain" -- Everly Brothers.

"Here I Am" -- Maybe the most beautiful Bacharach/David/Warwick collaboration ever, and certainly the most romantic.

"He's Sure the Boy I Love" - the Crystals. Had to get one fast-paced love song in here.

"Angel" -- Aretha Franklin. A love song that makes you want to shoot yourself.

"Mary Anne" -- Marshall Crenshaw

And a bookend to my first choice. My favorite song from the point-of-view of the rejecter: Kirsty McColl's great song, "Dear John," especially performed by Eddi Reader. But Kirsty's version is equally wrenching:

steve simels said...

Dave -- know and agree with most of your nominees, although I must confess the Bachrach/David one is a new one me. Who did it originally?

And I didn't know Dear John, so thanks for the link on that. Gorgeous stuff....

Anonymous said...

Flatlander Butch Hancock wrote a fine love song, If You Were a Bluebird, without using the word "love" in it. You have to nod to that one. And, yes, Emmylou covered it and titled an album off of it.

I've always thought Brian Wilson's Angel Passing Through My Room is a beautiful thing.

Pretty partial to the Four Tops' H-D-H-penned Reach Out, Bryan Ferry's My Only Love and the Jayhawks I'm Gonna Make You Love Me, too.

TMink said...

The songs you guys have listed are killer.

"Something" is one of my favorite love songs ever.

"And I Love Her" is not too shabby either.


Anonymous said...

The Mike Viola pick is perfect and I'd have posted it here if you had not done so.

Also love the Crowded House picks.

Two picks to add:

"Here She Comes" by Low Millions. A great piece of blissed-out first-throes-of-love.

James Taylor did a pitch-perfect version of the old Yip Harburg standard, "My Romance" that's always been compelling to me. In fact, it was the song the wife and I played for our first dance at our wedding.

And one anti-love note: It took John Fogerty decades to write and record his first love song. He'd always been against them until he found the right woman. Then, out came "Joy of My Life" on the "Blue Moon Swamp" CD.

Feral said...

A fertile field this, yet full of weeds. Some of my cream of the crop...

Peter Gabriel - In Your Eyes. Overplayed but it still works. "Talk to Me" touches me as well.

Bonnie Rait was mentioned above and I gotta add "Let's Give Them Something to Talk About". Love that bit of sauciness.

Harry Nilsson - Without You. Just because I like Harry. I suppose I could mention "You're Breakin' My Heart"...

Of course when it comes to bitter, Tonio K wins hands down with H.A.T.R.E.D

Warren Zevon - Keep Me In Your Heart For A While. Poignant

Anonymous said...

Most of my choices have been chosen already (the minute I read the topic, I thought of "Here, There and Everywhere" -- it doesn't get any more loverly than that).

Bob Dylan is one of our great songwriters, but most of Bob his love songs sound so phony and forced. There is one exception -- "If Not For You" done beautifully both by Dylan AND George Harrison. Both versions are great.

(There is an unreleased slow version of the song by Dylan that tops both of'em, though.)

Wendy said...

"In My Life"

But of all these friends and lovers
There is no one compares with you
And these memories lose their meaning
When i think of love as something new
Though i know i'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know i'll often stop and think about them
In my life i love you more

And my word is "dophaz" ... :-)

Sal Nunziato said...

I could go with the obvious, but I am going to throw this into the mix instead- "The Golden State"- John Doe/Kathleen Edwards"

Lyrically sexy, romantic and heartbreaking, with a killer chorus to boot.

geor3ge said...

"God Only Knows" -- Beach Boys (could have chosen scores more Brian Wilson compositions)

That's a great melody. Slow the tempo, change the time signature, add a lugubrious piano accompaniment and you've got yourself a Strauss Lied.

Who Am Us Anyway? said...

For fellow codgers, I recommend Chris Smither’s Leave the Light On.

For fellow dirty hippies, I recommend Joan & Earl playing Dylan in Joan’s living room.

For everyone else, you could do worse than Neko Case singing Hold On, Hold On.

Anonymous said...

I've been digging "So What If We're Out Of Tune (With The End Of The World)" by Marah over the past few days. It's a good thing I never heard this song when I was with my ex, because it defined us perfectly, and she would have hated it.

Anonymous said...

Only have time for a few:

As somebody else mentioned, Tonio K.'s H.A.T.R.E.D. is the best bitter song ever (and the funniest), followed closely by another K. song, Go Away from "Amerika".

As far as pretty goes, two Pete Townshend songs come immediately to mind, both from the stillborn "Lifehouse": Greyhound Girl, with a gorgeous 12-string accompaniment, available on the "Lifehouse" DVD or the "Live at La Jolla Playhouse" CDs from his website (I saw the first of the La Jolla performances in person, and it was breathtakingly good); and Mary, also on the "Lifehouse" DVD as well as Townshend's first "Scoop" collection. Hauntingly beautiful.

Must mention Richard Thompson's Dimming of the Day, Chris Whitley's Big Sky Country, and a guilty pleasure - Billy Joel's tribute to the Righteous Brothers, Until the Night from his "52nd Street" disc. Holds some special memories...

Anonymous said...


Kid Charlemagne said...

Lots of Crenshaw songs:

"Whenever You're on My Mind"

"You're My Favorite Waste of Time"

Bram Tchaikovsky - "Girl of My Dreams"

Flamin' Groovies - "I Can't Hide"

Anonymous said...

Joni Mitchell's A Case of You

Aretha Franklin's Baby, I Love You - the definition of sassy

How about You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman, while we're on Aretha. Jerry Wexler said he only worked with three real geniuses in his career: Bob Dylan, Ray Charles, and Aretha.

I think there are more good Dylan love songs than one. I've always liked "Mama, You Been On My Mind."

Anonymous said...

love love me do - -beatles
In Spite of ourselves - john prine/iris dement

Anonymous said...

I think there are more good Dylan love songs than one. I've always liked "Mama, You Been On My Mind."

Probably, but his forte was always the "Fuck you!" songs. I can reel off a whole bunch of those without even trying....

ms. rosa said...

"Oh, and don't give me any of that Stephen Merritt/Magnetic Fields bullshit, cause I don't want to hear about it...." SIMELS GETTIN' SASSY! ha!

Songs I wished were about me because they love her so much:
"Dressy" by The Reigning Sound,
"Don't Renege on Our Love" by Richard Thompson,
"Miss X" MC5,
and Love's version of "Little Red Book" speaking of Bachrach...

steve simels said...

"Miss X" by the MC5?

Yes....ragingly beautiful. Good call!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Walk Away Renee- Left Banke
It Hurts Too Much- Robert Gordon
Winona- Matthew Sweet
Julie-Bobby Fuller Four (or even better, the Marshall Crenshaw version)
Without You (Nilsson or Badfinger)

Anonymous said...

Oh darn! I forgot "Kiss Me Baby" by the Beach Boys, which should never happen.

MBowen said...

Richard & Linda Thompson, "A Heart Needs A Home"

I win.

Anonymous said...

Forgot a couple this morning ... one of my favorites (because I'm a major sucker for the big B3), Steve Earle's I Don't Want to Lose You Yet, and Stevie Wonder's I Was Made to Love Her, mostly because it had what is arguably the greatest bass performance in pop music.

And, for personal reasons no one here would care to hear about, Raul Malo's treacly cover of Randy Newman's Feels Like Home.

Feral said...

A few more to add this evening;

Tracy Chapman - A Place In Your Heart

Allman Bros - Blue Sky

Phish - Come Waste Your Time with Me (I love that sentiment)

Beatles - Norwegian Wood (a love that could have been?)

You know, the dregs of this catagory could be fun sometime - the Worst love songs ever recorded.

Anonymous said...

MBowen said...
Richard & Linda Thompson, "A Heart Needs A Home"

I win.

Can't argue with that...

There's a clip of them doing that on YouTube which I think I posted two years ago which is so beautiful it hurts. From the Old Grey Whistle Test, super high quality.

Anonymous said...

Gummo said...
Bob Dylan is one of our great songwriters, but most of Bob his love songs sound so phony and forced.

I really gotta disagree with this. I'll give you the Nashville Skyline era--all of his songs at that time sounded kind of phony and forced. But "Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands," "Love Minus Zero," and "Sara" are some of the loveliest love songs ever.

I'd also like to add John Hiatt's "Have a Little Faith in Me" and Pretenders "I'll Stand By You" (even though I used that title first).

Unknown said...

"Future Perfect" by The Spongetones. I'm prejudiced, though - it's about me and my husband, who co-wrote the song.

Noam Sane said...

don't give me any of that Stephen Merritt/Magnetic Fields bullshit

A hearty "fucking A!" to that.

I guess because they've been played to death, Motown songs get overlooked, but the Temps' "My Girl" is...geez, what can you say?
Perfect? I guess that fits.

On the other end of the emotional spectrum, Donald Fagen's "Negative Girl" reeks of desperate desire. We've all been there; this gorgeous song somehow makes you want to go mean feat.

Dave said...


"Here I Am" was released as a single in 1966, but it was also the title song of what I consider, along with "Make Way for Dionne Warwick," Dionne's best album. The only hit from it was "Are You There (With Another Girl)" but another song, "In Between the Heartaches" (a song about a woman who argues that her abusive relationship is worth it for the times when her lover is good to her -- it's like a passive "Chain of Fools," and it's achingly beautiful) is another mindblower.
I have to get this music to you (check email).

I've thought of some more, of course.

One genre of love songs that always appeals to me is peons to nonexistent mates. To me, the prototypical example is the Safari's "Image of a Girl." Note the twisted syntax:

As I lie awake resting from the day
I can hear the clock passing time away
Oh, I couldn't sleep for on my mind
Was the image of the girl I hope to find

I look straight up at the ceiling above
Thinking of the girl whom I will love
Oh, would it be soon when she exists?
The image of the girl I've always wished

I twisted and I turned, ooh, trying to sleep
But all I could do was only to weep
For I haven't found that image yet
Of all the girls that I have met

And now the clock is still passing time
And I know someday that she will be mine
And I know shell always bring me love
For she's the image of the girl I love

Some other favorites in the genre: Jonathan Richman's "The New Teller" and Marshall Crenshaw's "Cynical Girl."

Speaking of twisted syntax, what about love songs that render the lyricist/singer inarticulate? Some of my favorites in this category: Te-Ta-Te-Ta-Ta by Ernie D-Doe, La La Means I Love You (The Delfonics), Mother Popcorn by James Brown (maybe the strangest lyrics of any big hit ever).

My two favorite "Oh" love songs, "Oh Me Oh My" (Lulu or Aretha) and Oh No Not My Baby (Maxine Brown).

Some picks from recent Listomanias: the Miracles'"Tracks of My Tears" and "You Must Be Love" and Lou Reed's "I Love You Suzanne."

And one question about another strange love song, the Zombies' "Tell Her No" (I also love Del Shannon's version. It's a rare song from the point-of-view of a guy asking another guy not to hook up with his no-good girlfriend. But the tone of the protagonist isn't angry at the guy -- all the hostility is toward his girlfriend.

The song ends with:

"Tell her nonononono-no-no-no
(don't take her love from my arms)
No no no no no
Don't leave her now for her love belongs to me"

Does the last line make any sense? Doesn't the singer WANT the other guy to leave her? What am I missing?

TMink said...

Brooklyn Girl, my wife loves that song as well! We were listening to Johnny Cash sing it and she started to cry a little. I asked why, and she said she realized that was our song.

That was years ago, but we sat listening to music last night and the original was the one we sent the kids off to bed with.

A perfect pop song.


Anonymous said...

Linda said...
"Future Perfect" by The Spongetones. I'm prejudiced, though - it's about me and my husband, who co-wrote the song.

Get outta town. Really?

I don't know the song, and I haven't googled, but are you married to Jamie Hoover? (The head Spongetone if memory serves...)

Wendy said...

Brooklyn Girl, my wife loves that song as well! We were listening to Johnny Cash sing it and she started to cry a little. I asked why, and she said she realized that was our song.

A lovely song ... Judy Collins also did a beautiful version of it.

And, since Motown was mentioned above ... there are tons of great Motown love songs, but "The Tracks of My Tears" ranks at the top, as far as I'm concerned.

MBowen said...

I saw the Patti Smith Group back in 1978, and she played a not-quite-finished version of "Frederick" back then. It started slower, with a little bit more of a Ronettes feel, and gradually sped up. Very sexy, very gorgeous, without the Todd Rundgren synth twiddles and disco drums. The show was broadcast live on WVBR and I had a tape of it for a long time, but as far as I know, no one has ever made an official bootleg out of it. Shame.

Anonymous said...

Didn't have time for this one yesterday: Accidentally Like A Martyr, Warren Zevon - WZ's weakness was sappy love songs ("Hasten Down the Wind", anybody?), but this one from the Excitable Boy disc is heartfelt, beautiful, and strong - not a trace of sappiness anywhere. A classic.