Love is soft as an easy chair, a many splendoured thing, what you want it to be. And love is a rose — but you’d better not pick it. For Valentine’s Day this week, Jim Reyno takes a look at some memorable love songs (several have been written over the year
Lone Justice, I Found Love (1986) Joyous kickoff track to the excellent Shelter album. Maria McKee really belts it out: She sounds like she’s really found love! (As an aside, McKee’s half-brother, Bryan MacLean, was a member of the influential ’60s band Love.)
Barbra Streisand, Evergreen (1976)
Delicate ballad opens with one of Streisand’s most famous opening lines (written by Paul Williams): “Love, soft as an easy chair … ” It gets real gooey after that.
Andy Williams, Love Is a Many Splendored Thing (1955)
From the movie of the same name, this Sammy Fain-Paul Francis Webster composition won an Academy Award for best original song. And the whole thing started with Han Suyin’s 1952 novel A Many- Splendored Thing.
Prairie Oyster, Did You Fall in Love With Me (1991)
Charming tune that subtly captures the apprehension and anticipation of a developing relationship. “I thought I saw a ghost of a smile / When my hand brushed against your hair.” Oh my, I’m blushing already! Great mandolin solo, too.
Alannah Myles, Love Is (1989) This debut single (written by David Tyson and Christopher Ward) and stylish accompanying video launched Myles in Canada. The riff is still funky and the chorus still hooks: “Love is / What you wantittobe/Loveis/Heavento the lonely.”
Celine Dion, My Heart Will Go On (1997)
I tried to avoid breakup-longdistance songs on this list, since that’s another category entirely. But in the last verse of Will Jennings’ lyrics, Dion sings: “You’re here / There’s nothing I fear.” So I’m claiming My Heart Will Go On for this list. The most powerful of power ballads, and beloved worldwide. I think it was voted Most Lovingly Heartfelt Song for Couples Whose Devotion Transcends Human History and Outer Space — and it was unanimous! Except one vote for …
Force MDs, Tender Love (1985) My favourite love song, no apologies. I love the unhurried tempo, the percussive touches and the gorgeous vocal harmonies. And when I try to sing along with the high parts … I sound spectacular. Come on!
Linda Ronstadt, Love Is a Rose (1975)
Written by Neil Young, this is as good a metaphor for love lost as I’ve heard: “Love is a rose / But you’d better not pick it / It only grows when it’s on the vine / A handful of thorns / And you’ll know you’ve missed it / You lose your love when you say the word mine.” Frank Sinatra, Only the Lonely (1958)
The original Voice paired with frequent collaborator, legendary arranger Nelson Riddle. They’re my pick as greatest jazz-pop pairing of the 1950s. But if you said it’s Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong … Well, it’s not a relationship-changer.
Depeche Mode, But Not Tonight (1986)
Songwriter Martin Gore celebrates a night all by his lonesome, sung convincingly by Dave Gahan: “Here on my own / All on my own / How good it feels to be alone tonight.”
Gilbert O’Sullivan, Alone Again (Naturally) (1972)
Nothing celebratory about solitude in this massive hit. It opens with the narrator contemplating jumping off a nearby tower, then goes downhill from there. If not the gold-medal winner for most depressing pop song, it’s at least on the podium. Eric Carmen, All by Myself (1975) Another tough look at being single. Everyone can get behind the surging, emotional chorus: “All by myself / Don’t want to be / All by myself anymore.”
Natasha Bedingfield, Single (2004) Catchy pop anthem by an underrated singer-songwriter. It’s her declaration of independence: “I’m not waitin’ around for a man to save me / Don’t depend on a guy to validate me.”
Beyoncé, Single Ladies
(Put a Ring on It) (2008) Another ridiculously catchy pop anthem. Like, an insanely catchy, dance-inspiring three minutes and 13 seconds of fun. Although the lyrics fall into the postbreakup-new romance category, it’s the chorus that gets it here.
The Greatest Love of All
Lyrics by Linda Creed: Originally recorded by George Benson in 1977, more famously by Whitney Houston in 1985, less famously by actress Sandra Hüller in the 2016 film Toni Erdmann. It’s the ultimate chest-swelling, selfesteem manifesto.
It seems singer Celine Dion’s heart will go on — and on, and on, and on, and ...
Many people are inspired by Whitney Houston’s version of Greatest Love of All. (She dropped the “the” from the original title.)
Alone at the microphone: Frank Sinatra.