By Nora Onanian, Web Services Coordinator
Seeing our listener’s Valentine’s Day song requests warmed our hearts! So, we decided to dig into your top 5 suggested songs, from the love stories behind them to the characteristics that make each one so romantic and timeless. Without further ado, 88.9’s love language is…
THE CURE - “LOVESONG”
The Cure’s “Lovesong” has made its way into movies, into TV shows, and of course into hearts around the world. It has an upbeat sound uncharacteristic of the Cure’s other songs at the time. The distinctive bass line and other instrumentation give it a catchy melody, and the lyrics avow an undying commitment. “You make me feel like I am young again,” Smith sings. “However far away, I will always love you.” The end product is something that sounds full of love, and the backstory makes it clear to see why.
Lead singer Robert Smith wrote “Lovesong” as a wedding present for Mary Poole just ahead of their marriage in 1988. He meant for the song to be a reminder of his enduring feelings while they were apart when Smith was on tour. The two first met at an acting class at age 14 where they formed a friendship and then later began dating. Talking about the song, Smith said "It's an open show of emotion. It's not trying to be clever. It's taken me ten years to reach the point where I feel comfortable singing a very straightforward love song." Just as heartwarming now as it was upon its 1989 release, both the story and song itself will seemingly never get old.
BILL WITHERS - “LOVELY DAY”
It’s easy to lose yourself in the beautiful, calming nature of this Bill Withers hit. And based on the lyrics, the sound is sweetly intended as a mirror of the way his special someone makes him feel. Withers sings about having worries weigh on his mind, but turning to his love is all it takes to uplift him. Withers and Skip Scarborough wrote the song and released it in 1977.
Considering this timeline, it is safe to assume “Lovely Day” is about Wither’s second wife Marcia Johnson, who he wed in 1976. The song’s most memorable moment can’t be missed. Repeating “lovely day” into oblivion, Withers holds an 18-second long note, one of the longest ever recorded within the pop genre. It’s just one of many components that makes “Lovely Day” a timeless love song.
TALKING HEADS - “THIS MUST BE THE PLACE”
For those that crave a love song that isn’t so blatantly direct, the Talking Heads’ masterpiece “This Must Be The Place'' will hit the heart in all the right places. The song is recognizable from the start with its distinctive bass line, synths, and keyboard. Its construction drew from complex African-inspired polyrhythms and funk to create a love song entirely unlike others that were in the mainstream at the time. David Byrne penned the lyrics, but it is unclear who he had in mind while writing.
In a self-interview released with the DVD of the concert film Stop Making Sense Byrne explains his intentions of making “a love song made up almost completely of nonsequiturs, phrases that may have a strong emotional resonance but don't have any narrative qualities.” He continued, “I tried to write one that wasn't corny, that didn't sound stupid or lame the way many do. I think I succeeded.” With the song’s massive popularity, it’s clear many would agree.
INXS - “NEVER TEAR US APART”
Released in 1987 by INXS, “Never Tear Us Apart” has a noticeably 80s sound. However, the loving feelings channeled into the song can earn appreciation for years to come. The lyrics describe the instantaneous, magnetic connection felt between two people. “I was standing, you were there, two worlds collided,” lead vocalist Michael Hutchence sings. The instrumentation builds up in intensity throughout with dramatic pauses, mimicking the way feelings build. This passion reaches a bursting point, marked with an elegant saxophone solo. Moments after, the song begins to soften and trail off.
Hutchence had a few different relationships over his life, but he confirmed in the Richard Lowenstein documentary Mystify that he created “Never Tear Us Apart” with his first love, Michele Bennett, in mind. While their relationship did not last, Bennett was allegedly the last person Hutchence spoke to before tragically taking his life. The song played at his funeral, the lyrics “they could never, ever tear us apart” a fitting sentiment for the power of love to bridge beyond even death.
THE LEMONHEADS - “INTO YOUR ARMS”
With its warm, laid-back sound and simple, repetitive, yet undeniably loving lyrics, the Lemonheads’ “Into Your Arms” is a Valentine’s Day staple. The song seems made for Evan Dando’s vocals, but many may be surprised to learn it’s a cover. Little-known Australian duo Love Positions first composed it. Singer-songwriter Robyn St. Clare is who wrote the lyrics. The other half of Love Positions, Nic Dalton, joined the Lemonheads for the recording which ended up on their sixth studio album Come on Feel the Lemonheads. There is little record of Robyn St. Clare’s personal life, but what is certain is that she captures the feeling of finding a person that feels like home so well.