Since Valentine’s Day is near, I thought I’d take a break from writing about conflict and write about love instead.
You wouldn’t know it at first glance, but I’m quite a romantic guy … especially for a pastor … even though some people have accused pastors of being a third sex.
I love love … especially great songs about love.
In fact, as I was preparing for this article, I perused my “Love Songs” playlist on iTunes … and found I have 889 songs on it … some with multiple versions.
My favorite songs about love have to meet five criteria:
*The performance must be heartfelt with clean lyrics. (There goes most of the 21st century.)
*The song must be well known or done by a major artist.
*No song can be a breakup song … all must refer to falling in love or being in love at present. (There goes “Someone Like You” by Adele.)
*The song has to be one you can sing with … which means that sometimes the sparser the instrumentation, the better.
*The song has to move your soul and touch your heart … even moving you to tears. (My top 5 songs all tear me up.)
After I made my list, I noticed that nearly every song was by a male artist or artists … and that a really good love song is a relatively rare thing.
I’ll count down my Top 5 next time. Here are Love Songs 10 through 6:
Number 10: “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Elvis Presley
Elvis arrived on the scene long before I started paying attention to popular music, so I didn’t hear most of his great songs until my early teens.
But I know how much he meant to so many people. While on a trip to the Southeast a few years ago, my son Ryan and I stopped to visit Elvis’ birthplace in Tupelo, Mississippi:
The home of his birthplace isn’t very large:
You can even shake hands with a young Elvis:
Of all Elvis’ songs, I like this one the best, especially this lyric:
Take my hand
Take my whole life too
For I can’t help
Falling in love with you
I’ve never been a fan of Vegas-style singing and playing, preferring sparser arrangements than Elvis used, but there’s no doubt he was a great entertainer, as this clip demonstrates:
Number 9: “Have I Told You Lately” by Van Morrison
I tried to work in a love song by U2 … but there aren’t many … and I also tried to work in one from Bob Dylan … but his are more bittersweet.
But if you want love songs – great love songs – just listen to Van the Man – especially his stuff over the last 25 years. His best love song is arguably “Have I Told You Lately,” popularized by Rod Stewart.
The song … sung to a lover … even suggests that the couple pray at the end of the day.
I took my wife to a Van concert for her birthday nearly 20 years ago. What blew me away was the power of his voice: it filled the entire auditorium. Yet Van suffers from stage fright, so much so that he sometimes performs with his back to the audience. When he’s on, there’s nobody like him. Here are two clips of him singing this song (the first clip is more restrained):
Number 8: “Here, There and Everywhere” by The Beatles
The Beatles were primarily purveyors of the love song … at least until Revolver and Sgt. Pepper came out … when they began writing about topics like the unfairness of taxes, the gap between teens and their parents, and growing to the age of 64.
This song … written by Paul McCartney while waiting for John Lennon around the latter’s pool … is one of their best, even though it was never issued as a single … and it comes from Revolver, considered by many experts to be the best album of all-time by anybody.
I’ve been privileged to see Sir Paul in concert twice … the last time in Phoenix, Arizona:
Since The Beatles never did this song live, we’ll have to settle for a couple of clips of this song being performed by Sir Paul … in clips 10+ years apart (video is better on the second clip):
Number 7: “Beautiful” by Gordon Lightfoot
I wish I could see GL in concert. Due to aging and some health problems, his voice isn’t what it once was, but I have all his stuff and absolutely love his sound. When Gord’s Gold came out a few months after our wedding, I played it over and over.
When my wife and I were selecting music for our wedding, this is one of the songs we considered … and no wonder, with lyrics like these:
At times I just don’t know
How you could be anything but beautiful
I think that I was made for you
And you were made for me
And I know that I will never change
Cause we’ve been friends through rain or shine
For such a long, long time
And then he ends with:
And I must say that it means so much to me
To be the one
That’s telling you
I’m telling you
That you’re beautiful
Here’s a clip of GL singing this song from several years ago:
And here’s a clip of the original song from 1972 … with a single image … and GL in classic form:
Number 6: “Angel Dream” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
I love a lot of Tom Petty’s stuff … most of it from Full Moon Fever on … like “Free Fallin’” and “King’s Highway” and “You Wreck Me.”
In fact, my former church in Arizona started two services with Tom Petty songs: “Runnin’ Down a Dream” and my all-time TP favorite, “I Won’t Back Down.”
While he’s not known for his love songs, Tom and the gang have performed some great ones over the years … but this one is my favorite:
Now I’m walking this street on my own
But she’s with me everywhere I go
Yeah, I found an angel
I found my place
I can only thank God it was not too late
The second clip is better, but has subtitles in Spanish:
Those are five of my favorite love songs.
Out of the thousands of love songs out there, which are your favorites?