LOVE SONGS 101: The Top 101 Love Songs (80-61)

Nov 26, 2003 (Updated Feb 15, 2004)

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The Bottom Line If you can give it, I can take it.


The Gratuitous Intro
This is getting ridiculous. Even now, I am still thinking of songs I want to add to this thing! I suppose the supply is about as bountiful as the air, but in the long run, I guess I'll just have to accept that this list is evolving even as I'm writing it. It's like the movie Adaptation or something. But it better stop happening soon, 'cause the closer we get to the top, the harder it gets to kick one off! Needless to say, the bitter songs usually end up getting the boot first, which I suppose is a good thing, being that this is a category for Romance Mixes and all...

Anyway, here's 80 thru 61, eat your heart out.

80.) "Sonnet" The Verve
Here we go again and my head is gone, my lord
I stop to say hello 'cause I think you should know by now

The Verve definitely had that "haunting thing" down; seems that every one of their songs had a distanced feel and a gaping hole into which they were being played. Nothing competes with a lot of extra room, and in the case of this song, I find that a romantic effect is achieved. Especially when the band finally get to cut loose with their abstract nonsense at the end. If it is possible to spew a "stream of consciousness" from a guitar, well, that's what they're doing.

79.) "Light My Fire" The Doors
The time to hesitate is through
No time to wallow in the mire
Try now we can only lose, and our love become a funeral pyre
Come on baby, light my fire

My #1 oldie slides into #79 on the Romance side of things, because the Doors just don't strike me as a sensitive kind of band. Between this and "Touch Me" I'd say they're more along the lines of "pumped". You know. And in this song, that is a good thing because they come up with a super organ riff to accompany this longing passionate feeling. Bringing it to life is the vocal of Jim Morrison, who carries this song to an Earth-shattering climax before it finally shuts down the same way it started.

78.) "Just Like Jesse James" Cher
If you can give it, I can take it
'Cause if this heart is gonna break it's gonna take a lot to break it
I know tonight somebody's gonna win a fight
Then if you're so tough, come on and prove it
Your heart is down for the count and you know you're gonna lose it

This is another one of those that might "not" be a love song, but damn if Cher isn't feeling the love when she tells that man to back the f*ck off. Another powerfully synth-driven tune that is at least in part responsible for my first getting into music -- I made it part of one of my "diary tapes" on the night of August 29, 1992 and I always looked forward to that part of the tape. The rest is history.

77.) "Babe" Styx
You know it's you babe whenever I get weary
And I've had enough, feel like giving up

You know it, you've heard it. So here it is. Considering how easy the song would be to describe, I find it nearly impossible to tell just what's so great about it. I guess just the fact that someone had the balls to do it. The guitar solo/vocal harmony blast in the bridge is one of the best parts.

76.) "Bad Time" Grand Funk Railroad
I'm in love with a girl I'm talking about
I'm in love with a girl I can't live without
I'm in love, but I feel like I'm living it out
I'm in love, but I must've picked a bad time to be in love

You know how it is, you just started to like a girl and you allow yourself (against your better judgment) to fall in love with her, and then you find out that she's five. Very rarely does a song, especially an upbeat one, find a way to make the music fit so well with the lyrics. In this one, they fit perfectly -- you sense all the regret, the sadness, the memory of how great things used to be.

75.) "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" The Proclaimers
And I would walk 500 miles and I would walk 500 more
Just to be the man who walked a thousand miles to fall down at your door

You'd think that people would have had enough of silly love songs, but I look around me and I see it isn't so. When it comes to silly, you just can't beat the Proclaimers and their wildly upbeat tune from the movie Benny & Joon, a movie every bit as silly. What made people take this song seriously was the sha-daDA, da (shaa-daDA, da!) da da dun duddle-un, duddle-un, duddle-ah da da.

74.) "Linger" Cranberries
And I swore, I swore it would be true and so did you
So why were you holding her hand, is that where we stand?
Were you lying all the time, was it just a game to you?

There were a lot of swaying bodies and trees in 1993 when the Cranberries jumped instantaneously onto the radio with this spellbinding number. Dolores seemed to have all kinds of interesting things to say about the troubled growth of a relationship, and she did it so eloquently that you couldn't help but listen. Very nice orchestration backing this one up.

73.) "Never Tear Us Apart" INXS
We could live for a thousand years
But if I hurt you
I'd make wine from your tears

I can play this song on the keyboard! Woohooo! This one is built around an atmospheric, rhythmic synthesized sound and an essential bass. Everything is going along according to plan, when suddenly the synthesizer stops, and Mr. Hutchence stops. Everything is silent, and suddenly a guitar breaks in with a simple but effective riff. The percussion follows closely behind and the song breaks back in. This song is about damn close to a musical epiphany.

72.) "Overjoyed" Stevie Wonder
Over time, I'm building my castle of love
Just for two, though you never knew you were my reason
I’ve gone much too far for you now to say
That I’ve got to throw my castle away

This is a pure vocal performance. The music is nice and subtle, but Stevie's voice soars as he sings of a dream he might have to give up on. The key changes are accentuated by some of the most creative improvisation on Stevie's part. I can't imagine that he actually came up with those notes in his mind... that just seems impossible. Surely he must have came up with it during a spontaneous, unplanned session and then had to go back and listen to it a hundred times to memorize it. I'm still not even so sure I could sing it myself! Awesome stuff.

71.) "I'll Have To Say I Love You In A Song" Jim Croce
Every time I tried to tell you, the words just came out wrong
So I'll have to say I love you in a song.

I probably already dubbed someone else the master of "simple" love songs. If I did, I take it back. That honor goes to Jim Croce. Just a simple guitar, a few simple chords and a straightforward lyric of confession. Somehow, he manages to bring every guy's thought into words with such ease that you wonder why you never thought of it yourself. 'Cause you know you wouldn't have.

70.) "Only In Dreams" Weezer
Only in dreams, you'll see what it means
Reach out our hands, hold on to hers
But when we wake, it's all been erased
And so it seems... only in dreams

The epic closer of Weezer's Blue Album is a startlingly heartfelt love song on the part of a bunch of guys whom most might have considered horny tweenagers up until that point. And maybe that's why the song is so shocking, 'cause Rivers nails it with all the pained hopelessness of a typical lonely guy who just can't get any... and in the process, realizes that he might be missing out on more than just that. The guitar solo is priceless, and bass is an underappreciated talent that gets its 15 minutes here (well, half of it anyway).

69.) "Under The Bridge" Red Hot Chili Peppers
Well I don't ever wanna feel like I did that day
Take me to the place I love, take me all the way

This would be one of those "love songs for the city" I was talking about. As a warning, there are two more, one of which you've never heard. But for now, this is just one of those songs that make you feel like you're sitting on top of a building looking out, thinking about anything in the world. At least I have her love, the city she loves me, lonely as I am, together we cry. Yeah, I know how that is. Another perfect driving song.

68.) "Find Your Way Back" Michelle Branch
I'm finding my way back to you
And everything I used to be
And leaving is all I can do
Until you find your way back to me

Almost nothing can be more goosebump-inducing than Michelle Branch on harmony. I originally had "All You Wanted" in this spot, until I heard this song in a movie trailer (surprise, surprise) and thought "Holy sh!t." While "All You Wanted" is a very nice song, this one is leaps and bounds above it in the original melody department. It is delivered with a heart so big, it could crush this town. (Oh, I do have Tom Petty somewhere on here, please tell me I do!) And that's what we lovebirds are talking about, ya hear? Good job, Michelle, keep 'em coming.

67.) "We've Only Just Begun" The Carpenters
Sharing horizons that are new to us
Watching for signs along the way
Talking it over, just the two of us, working together day to day

Another one you can blame Mom for! Sorry, but those Carpenter people had some serious heart to 'em, and it showed more than ever in songs like this. When the horns burst out on the chorus, even the most rock-oriented listeners might be inclined to think, even if only for seconds "Wow, the Carpenters actually rock." Just a plain good song all around.

66.) "Lady Love Me (One More Time)" George Benson
So before you turn and walk away
Just lady love me one more time
Feel your heartbeat close to mine

I don't know what it is about this song. It's definitely one that got plenty of airplay when I was a kid, and nowadays it's a lot faster than I remember (which is always a good thing). There is some interesting musical texture to this one, with music flying over and behind George as he treats us to his underappreciated vocal talent.

65.) "Tonight, Tonight" Smashing Pumpkins
Time is never time at all
You can never ever leave without leaving a piece of youth
And our lives are forever changed

Billy Corgan, strings, and Jimmy Chamberlain rat-a-tat-tatting away on the drums. This song, aside from being responsible for a few million of Mellon Collie's sales, is about as epic as they come. It's almost like something you'd hear out of a wild opera play, but it works. At least it did before it got played to death. Only just recently is the song starting to regain its initial freshness. But all exhaustion issues aside, "Tonight, Tonight" remains one of the Pumpkins' greatest works of art.

64.) "Father Figure" George Michael
Sometimes I think that you'll never understand me
Maybe this time is forever, say it can't be

George Michael knows his romance, and delivers it wholeheartedly in this sweeping, euphoric, pensive, and ever so horny masterpiece of a tune. George strutted his vocal harmonic stuff and fused the soulfulness of a gospel song with the wispy journey of a sensual love song. The combination is both shocking and gorgeous in a way that's tough to describe.

63.) "Don't Lose My Number" Phil Collins
He never meant to do anything wrong
It's gonna get worse if he waits too long

Okay, this is another one of those weird ones that you're wishing I would just stop with! But there is something so powerful behind this song. On one end, you have a pounding drum beat that just won't let up, on the other you have a chorus that is so full of hooks it's barely coherent. And in the middle, as the backbone, you have the story of one of Phil's friends who got caught by the police for something he may or may not have done. I guess more than anything else, the unconditional love he shows for this friend in spite of his current situation, there's something inspiring about it. I suppose I shouldn't mention that I wrote my own version of the song for a girl one time, which kind of distorts my vision...

62.) "The End Will Come" Elton John
And so they say the end will come for us
And so the world slows down to let us off
Just hang it up, and let it go, accept it if I must
But I don't believe no I won't believe that the end will come for us

With all the great Elton John songs out there, I go and pick some crap like this? Well I've got to tell you, I can never get enough of this song. I'll say the same thing I said in my review of The Big Picture -- this is the most outlandish offering Elton has offered since "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road". You can't possibly predict this on the first (or fifth) listen. The chorus has got more hooks in it than Peter Pan's got movies. "The End Will Come" is epic and romantic on a visceral level. Fascinating.

61.) "Lost In Love" Air Supply
You know you can't fool me, I've been loving you too long
It started so easy, you want to carry on?

As suggested by one of the most hilarious writers on this site, I realized I could not make this list without "Lost In Love". The song sounds pretty much the way its title suggests it would. Air Supply are not all about ballads, as this upbeat number shows. Everything in this song, the vocals, the background, the instruments and even the percussion, all blend together so beautifully.

To all those who have stuck with me, thank you so much. I know I tend to be more than a little shameless about personal issues, but I gotta tell you, this is getting pretty personal. It's weird, actually. Well, stick around now and I'll try not to pass out on ya!




Until next time...

Mike's Love Songs 100-81
Mike's Love Songs 80-61
Mike's Love Songs 60-41
Mike's Love Songs 40-21
Mike's Love Songs 20-1

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