It’s Valentine’s Day and that got me thinking about songs for this day. Not the “best” or “most romantic” songs, but songs that best capture the essence of the holiday. So I put that question out there, and these are the answers I received.
Whitney Law of the Capaha Arrow picked "A Kiss To Build A Dream On" by Louis Armstrong. "It's a time to be happy, and enjoy the love that you have in your life," said Law. "His style and the song embody that for me."
Whitney went with romance, and a lot people I talked to did. I’m not sure if they were being polite for the radio but hopefully they really felt that way. The other answers I got went like this: major bummer, persistent admirer, anti-consumer, and this one from Paul MacDougall of Pmac music, the local record store in Cape Girardeau, who went with this tragic selection: "September Blue" by Chris Rea.
"This one I believe, if I'm hearing him right, this is a love he lost, and not just lost, but I think she died," said MacDougall.
Plenty of people think Valentine's Day is a ploy to sell cards, and Amy Phillips, Senior Editor of News at Pitchfork holds this philosophy. Her pick is "Natural's Not In It" by Gang of Four.
"It's about love as a commodity," said Phillips. "And when you think of Valentine's Day, what's it all about? It's about commerce, it's about putting a price on love."
Persistence is a common theme of love and romance, and Brian Noto of 573 Magazine picked the pop-hit from the Proclaimers "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)."
"It talks about this fella's love to get back to his girlfriend," said Noto. "Ultimately it's about the journey, and the length he'd go to be with his lover."
The shock-rock pioneer Alice Cooper has his tender moments, and Eric Karlish of Pmac Music selected his balled "You & Me."
"It's really relatable because it's about regular people with regular jobs and they can't wait to get home to the one that they love at the end of the day," said Karlish.
It's not surprising that Kelly Hogan would select a "super bummer" love song as her latest album I Like To Keep Myself In Pain demonstrates her interpreting heartbreaking songs from songwriters such as Catherine Irwin, John Wesley Harding and the late Vic Chestnut with what sounds like sincere understanding. She picked Billy Bragg's heartwrencher "Must I Paint You A Picture?"
"You're cruising along and you see an add for Walgreens with hearts," said Hogan. "Then you kind of have to turn the rock over in your life and look at the worms underneath."
What I got out of these responses is that no matter what your outlook on love or Valentine’s Day, music has got your back. Whether you swoon over all the heart-shaped candy and cards or you can’t wait for the day to be over with, I hope you have a good one.