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Posted on Sunday, February 19th, 2006

Dave!Courtesy of being tagged by Kachina over at A Whiter Shade of Pale comes this meme asking you to list your top ten favorite love songs. I think it was originally meant for Valentine's Day, but is only just now making its way here. This meme is more difficult for me than most, because most of my adventures in love have ended up being the absolute worst times in my life. It would be all too easy to pick the most depressing songs I could find and shove them in a list, but that's kind of like cheating, and so I'll put a little more work into it.

So as not to offend the meme-hating masses, my answers are in an extended entry...

  1. "Pictures of You" by The Cure. Inarguably one of the greatest albums of all time, The Cure's Disintegration rips through the perils and wonderment of love as no other album can. At the height of it all is the crushing lyrics and consuming musical score that makes Pictures of You the greatest love song of all time. I get chills every time I hear it, and all the beauty and heartache that makes being in love so uniquely human come rushing back to me.
    Lyric Memory: "If only I'd thought of the right words, I could have held on to your heart. If only I'd thought of the right words, I wouldn't be breaking apart... all my pictures of you."
  2. "If You Were Here" by Thompson Twins. This sublimely haunting tune by one of my favorite groups had already been a favorite before I ever heard it at the end of the film Sixteen Candles. But after that scene when Jake kisses Samantha over her birthday cake, it transcended to something far more than "just a song," and somehow encapsulated "love" as an abstract to me (because you really have to ponder those lyrics to see how love enters into the picture).
    Lyric Memory: "If you were here, I could deceive you. And if you were here, you would believe."
  3. "Higher Love" by Depeche Mode. It was very, very difficult to select just one Depeche Mode song for my list, because so much of their music captures the feeling of longing and desperation that comes from being in love. I fought over whether Higher Love or Mercy in You was going to be the one. Ultimately, I went with Higher Love because it was more literal in interpretation. On top of that, it's a great song.
    Lyric Memory: "I surrender all control, to the desire that consumes me whole. Leads me by the hand to infinity, lies in wait at the heart of me."
  4. "Don't Worry Baby" by The Beach Boys. This song is perfect on so many levels that I have a hard time putting my feelings for it into words. The thing that makes me really love it is that the line "don't worry baby" is NOT the guy comforting his girlfriend as you would expect... it's instead the girl assuring some poor bastard that everything is going to be okay. That's love. As a side-note, this song was originally written by Brian Wilson for Ronnie Spector and, while it's a nice rendition, I've always preferred The Beach Boys singing it.
    Lyric Memory: "Oh what she does to me. When she makes love to me. And she says don't worry baby."
  5. "I Love N.Y.E. by Badly Draw Boy. An achingly beautiful musical interlude from the amazing About a Boy movie soundtrack. I remember leaving the theater after having watched the movie and immediately going to the music store to purchase this CD. It is absolute magic, and highly recommended whether you liked the movie or not (but, seriously, how could you not like this film?). This particular track (short for "I Love New Year's Eve") is from when Hugh Grant's character was falling in love with the beautiful Rachel Weisz's character, and literally makes you feel what love is all about when you listen to it.
    Lyric Memory: N/A.
  6. "At Last" by Etta James. Seriously... you have not lived until you've made sweet love to the unparalleled vocal stylings of Etta James crooning "At Last". I rediscovered this stunning work in the movie Pleasantville, and have been in love with Miss James ever since. Etta's sex on wax, baby.
    Lyric Memory: "At Last, my love has come along. My Lonely days are over, and life is like a song."
  7. "Velvet" by a-ha. This song has a deeply personal meaning for me as to the bittersweet nature of love, but I think that just about anybody can appreciate what a lovely work it is. A close runner-up for a-ha from me would be "Time & Again" which is one of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard.
    Lyric Memory: "Her touch would be tender, her lips would be warm. But when we're together, I'm always alone."
  8. "The Scientist" by Coldplay. From the very first time I heard this song, it struck a deep emotional cord that encapsulates love as a kind of sadness and longing that everybody has felt at one time or another. It still has that effect on me today.
    Lyric Memory: "Nobody said it was easy, it's such a shame for us to part. Nobody said it was easy, no one ever said it would be this hard."
  9. "Closer" by Nine Inch Nails. Because love has a dark side, and there are times that love is governed by passion and need rather than your heart.
    Lyric Memory: "I want to f#@% you like an animal, I want to feel you from the inside. I want to f#@% you like an animal, my whole existence is flawed. You get me closer to god."
  10. "You Surround Me" by Erasure. Ah yes. The girl who got away. This song smacks me in the face with all the depression of lost love every time I hear it. I will be the first to admit that this one probably won't push any buttons for very many other people but, since this is my list, it simply has to be here.
    Lyric Memory: "Don't ever let me take you for granted, you've got your finger on the pulse of my soul. Let me place a kiss in the small of your back, love and protect you from the evils of this world."

The strange thing about making a list like this is that if I were to make a new one tomorrow, it would probably look entirely different.

Oh well. For anybody who cares, here are some other "love songs" that have/had meaning for me at one time or another...

Here Comes The Sun by Nina Simone; Somewhere Only We Know by Keane; End of the Innocence by Don Henley; Seven Seas by Sarah Brightman; Your Body is a Wonderland by John Mayer; Iris by The Goo Goo Dolls; Slave to Love by Bryan Ferry; Drive by The Cars; Come Undone by Duran Duran; Mandolin Rain by Bruce Hornsby; Until She Comes by The Psychedelic Furs; Bitter Sweet Symphony by The Verve; Miracle by Jon Bon Jovi; The Flame by Cheap Trick; The Promise by When in Rome; All I Want to Do is Make Love to You by Heart; Girlfriend in a Coma by The Smiths; Is Anybody Out There In Love by Boy Meets Girl; Hanging By a Moment by Lifehouse; Where Does My Heart Beat Now by Celine Dion; Sacrifice by Elton John; You've Got a Way by Shania Twain; Different Seasons by Johnny Hates Jazz; Take Me Away by Babble; Money Can't Buy It by Annie Lennox; Stop Crying Your Heart Out by Oasis; It Must Have Been Love by Roxette; I'd Die Without You by P.M. Dawn; Truly, Madly, Deeply by Savage Garden; and, lastly, I would be remiss to mention Every Breath You Take by The Police, which was at the top of the charts when I lost my virginity. Good times.

Categories: Memes 2006, Music 2006Click To It: Permalink


  1. adena says:

    Depeche Mode, the Cure, Erasure, NIN, Coldplay??….
    Good god, I think I love you!! 🙂

    Okay, I agree w/ you that Higher Love is a great song, but I have to go w/ “In Your Room”. I think that not only is it my FAVORITE DM song (because it’s so damn DARK), but it works for a spankin’ good love song as well:

    In your room
    Your burning eyes
    Cause flames to arise
    Will you let the fire die down soon
    Or will I always be here
    Your favourite passion
    Your favourite game
    Your favourite mirror
    Your favourite slave

    I’m hanging on your words
    Living on your breath
    Feeling with your skin
    Will I always be here


    Oh, and I LOVE, love “The Scientist”.

    I could argue a few Erasure songs, and Cure songs, as well…but, this post would take Fo-EVAH!

  2. Dave2 says:

    Oooooh… that IS an excellent selection. I don’t think it tops “Higher Love” for my list, but I think I would put it above “Mercy In You”… it is just too difficult to pick ONE Depeche Mode song when they’re all so perfect.

  3. marie b. says:

    I recommend “Lovers from the Moon” by the Magnetic Fields.

  4. Jeff says:


    Sorry, inside joke. Dave knows the story…

  5. Charred says:

    My favourite DM is “Death’s Door,” so it won’t work for a love song. “Somebody” would be good if I were still in high school…I’m not sure what I’d pick now.

    I’m amazed to come across someone who’s familiar with a-ha’s more recent works, practically everybody else in the world’s stuck on “Hunting High and Low” (the album, not the song).

    Thanks Dave, now I have to go fish out the old cassettes and give them a listen (the CDs are in the car and I’m too lazy to go get them).

  6. Chaz says:

    You’ve got a nice list of songs there, Dave. However, I hate to be that guy who points out a mistake, but it’s not Ella James. The correct name of the singer is actually Etta James. Though I can understand how that could easily be mutated into Etta James since the song was also performed by Ella Fitzgerald. We’ll just say that you were trying to attribute the song to both great singers so you weren’t really wrong at all. Instead, you were throwing out a subtlety that only the critical reader might pick up. Well done!

  7. margalit says:

    What an amazing list. I think I should marry you because we have the same taste in music, and that’s pretty rare. The only stuff you’ve left off is the many Peter Gabriel love songs that make me want to cry. Oh, and schlocky Phil Collins from the time he got his divorce around 1983.

    The Cure are definately at the top of my list, too. And now my kid loves them. How weird.

  8. Dave2 says:

    Now that’s freaky, Chaz… I KNEW it was “Etta James” yet somehow typed “Ella” instead??

    I’m more hung-over than I thought! Oh well, I’ve fixed it now, so thanks. 🙂

  9. Dave2 says:

    Marie B.: Wow… The Magnetic Fields… that’s a blast from the past! I do not remember “Lovers on the Moon”, so I’ll have to give it a listen.

    Jeff: Freebird’s only fun if the band you’re listening to will play it! 🙂

    Charred: A-ha’s best stuff is easily their latest works, and it’s incredibly frustrating that North America hasn’t had a chance to listen to the amazing, amazing stuff they’ve done on their “Major Earth, Minor Sky” and “Lifelines” albums. I am still waiting for “Analogue” to hit our shores as well.

    Margalit: Marry me? That’s pretty brave considering my track record! Oh, yes… yes… yes… “In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel should absolutely be on that list! Though I could never get into Phil Collins, I do admit that “Against All Odds” is a fairly decent love song. The Cure is either a “love it or hate it” type thing, and it took me a while to truly appreciated Robert Smith’s genius. Still… “Disintegration” is pretty much perfect as far as albums go, even if you’re not a big fan.

  10. adena says:

    Wow, Charred….”Death’s Door”. I LOVE that song. It’s so hard to find it. I have a bootlegged version of them playing it live, on a cd I burned.

    Not really a love song, tho’….well, maybe in a nice, morbid way.

    “Somebody” would’ve been my pick in HS as well, but there are far, FAR too many better DM songs, now.

    I’ll have to look up the newer a-ha stuff, if both you and Dave think they’re really good. I haven’t really heard much of a-ha since the 80’s.

    I love Peter Gabriel. You either hate him, or love him, and I’m w/ the latter. His “greatest hits” cd gets regular rotation in my car.

    “Disintegration” is brilliant. The music on that cd is incredible. I love “Lullaby”.

  11. serap says:

    Wow, I had no idea that the cure were so well loved! I’m a huge fan too, but ‘head on the door’ is my fave album… not sure which song I’d have on the list though, probably ‘close to me’. I thought your list as a whole was great, but I’d have to have some Elliott Smith, to really brighten the mood! ‘Just somebody that I used to know’ is excellent for that post-break-up ‘I could do much better than you anyway’ feeling.

  12. nic says:

    One must include “Unchained Melody” (Righteous Brothers), don’t you think?

  13. nic says:

    Oh, and “Unforgettable” (Nat King Cole)

    Somebody stop me!

  14. Dave2 says:

    Now see, it’s funny, but both of those songs could work since they are indeed great love songs… but “Unchained Melody” was ruined by the movie “Ghost” for me and “Unforgettable” was trashed when Natalie Cole decided to reinvent it as a duet with her dead father.

    It doesn’t take much to kill old love songs for me… Patrick Swayze and commercial whoring will do it every time though!

    And it doesn’t end there… other greats like “When a Man Loves a Woman,” “If You Leave,” “Baby I Love Your Way,” and the entire catalogs of Marvin Gaye & Luther Vandross have been killed for me at one time or another for one reason or another. Usually because of a movie I either didn’t like or a memory I’d just as soon forget.

  15. Naomi says:

    What!? No, “The Promise”?

    Oooh–Mexican Moon (Concrete Blonde)… LOVE it. LOVE.

  16. Dave2 says:

    “The Promise” by When in Rome is in my extended list at the bottom there. Truly a great love song.

    Concrete Blonde probably has a lot of good songs… which I’ve totally ignored because their breakout hit “Joey” bugged the crap out of me! Something about the lead singer’s voice makes my skin crawl, which is the exact reason so many other people love the band. 🙂

  17. jenny says:

    I’ve been on a HUGE Etta James kick lately, and agree that At Last is just spectacular. Although for a more upbeat love song of hers, I like Something’s Got a Hold on Me.

  18. Bec says:

    I have been reading your blog for quite some time after being brought here by a very fortuitous Google link. (Thank you for remeinding what is so great about blogs).
    I didn’t know a couple of the tracks but my housemate tutted at me after I mentioned them and sat me down in front of his CD player. Deep sighs at ‘Higher Love’.
    I would add Otis Redding – Cigarettes and Coffee for the beauty of the lyrics:

    “I’m sittin’ here talkin’ with my baby
    Over cigarettes and coffee, now
    And to tell you that
    Darling I’ve been so satisfied
    Honey since I met you
    Baby since I met you”

    Thanks again for making me smile.

  19. Dave2 says:

    Jen: Oh yes, Etta has dozens of classics. I bought two of her CDs after seeing “Pleasantville” and must say I prefer her earlier stuff, but would listen to any of it, really.

    Bec: That’s odd. I love me the Otis Redding, but cannot remember having heard “Cigarettes and Coffee”. Now that I think of it though, Otis has a few tracks that absolutely make the grade… “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” is classic. Ooh! Ooh! And “These Arms of Mine” too!

  20. Brandon says:

    We used I Love NYE for the processional in my wedding, so that song has a special meaning for me. I think the first time I heard it I thought it would make for an excellent replacement to all those funeral marches you hear at a lot of weddings.

    That whole About A Boy soundtrack is incredible. I haven’t really liked any other Badly Drawn Boy record nearly as much.

  21. Dave2 says:

    I had never thought of that before… but “I Love N.Y.E.” would be amazing for a wedding! I have it in heavy rotation, and always get goose bumps when it comes on. “Sparkly” is a good word to describe the magic on that song.

    The big surprise for me on the “About a Boy” soundtrack is “Donna & Blitzen,” which is one of the few Christmas songs I can stomach! Ooh… “Silent Sigh” and “Something to Talk About” are favorites as well. Heck, the whole album is amazing. It’s on iTunes, so go buy it immediately. 🙂

  22. apryl says:

    very impressed with the man you are by reading your favorite love songs.

    NIN’s “closer” is also a favorite of mine;
    as is the whole of Disintegration, Coldplay, Peter Gabriel’s “book of love” (from the Shall We Dance movie), and the Hugh Grant scene in Notting Hill when music and seasons combine to haunt my memory of love lost….”ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone…”

  23. jube jubes says:

    This may be a little too “pop-rock” for you guys, but i like “she will be loved” by maroon 5.
    ~”that’s the way love is” -Marvin GAye

    ~”Can you see me” -Jimi Hendrix (a good break-up song)

    ~”Dreamgirl” -dave matthews band

    ~”all that i can say” -Mary J Blige

    ~”can’t stand loosing you” -the police

  24. Dave2 says:

    Thanks Apryl… not many people would think of “Closer” as a love song. 🙂 “Ain’t No Sunshine” is a goody, but I kind of freak out in the middle where he keeps repeating “I know. I know. I know. I know. I know. I know. I know. I know. I know. I know. I know. I know. I know. I know. I know. I know. I know. I know. I know. I know. I know. I know. I know. I know. I know. I know. I know. I know. I know. I know.” Did he run out of lyrics? 😀

    Maroon 5 used to be a favorite… but they got overplayed for me. Still, I do like “She Will Be Loved” quite a lot. In fact… I’m off to iTunes to listen to it right now! 🙂

  25. apryl says:

    that’s funny. i had a feeling you’d bring up the “i know i know” thing. 🙂

  26. Esther says:


    I am having a tough time finding the lyrics to Peter Gabriel’s, “Book Of Love”. If you can help with that I would truly appreciate it as my best friend is getting married . I heard the song and liked the way it made me feel. However, I would like to see the lyrics.

    Thanks so much, Esther

  27. Hilly says:

    wow, i guess i wasn’t around yet when this was written cause i would have been all over this with comments. funny that i love more than half of these songs but i am walking away with ‘don’t worry baby’ stuck in my head.

    i should do this list one day, years later. even though i am not a huge sarah mclachlan fan, my all time favorite love song lyirc is, ‘deep within i’m shaken by the violence of existing for only you’. talk about love desperation!

  28. Kachina says:

    This *just* appeared on my incoming links and on re-reading your answers I have two and a half comments:

    Aimee Mann covered “The Scientist,” and that version bears a listen. Lots of piano, and amps the hauntingness way way up.

    If you like “Closer” you will probably like “Tear You Apart” by She Wants Revenge – also, consider seeking out the Closer-Mario remix.

  29. Classified Info says:

    Here Comes the Sun is by the Beatles. Or maybe you’re talking about the version preformed by her?

  30. Judy L says:

    Could anyone tell me where I could find the words and/or sheet music to The Promise by ‘When in Rome’?

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