Music is an amazing thing. It can draw out all the same emotions a great book does, but it often doesn’t have more than a few minutes to do so. And what’s the topic that shows up with the most frequency in songs? Love.
Apparently the Beatles were right. That’s all you need. Of course, having the words to express your emotions doesn’t hurt either.
Here are my top ten songs discussing word choice, writing, reading, and possibly the most famous romantic couple in literature:
The sole reason this couple is on the verge of calling it quits seems to be that they disagree on the pronunciation of certain words. Now, I’m happy that they ultimately decide to stay together, but I’m also glad they understand that an issue as important as this must be discussed when embarking on a serious relationship.
- “Love Letters” (1945)
This song holds a special place in my heart as it always reminds me of my grandparents. But it also speaks to the power of words. It doesn’t matter that the singer is alone in a desolate place, so long as she has the words given to her by the one she loves.
- “Adelaide’s Lament” (1950)
Sometimes love doesn’t work out exactly the way you want it to. The best way to deal with this? Break out some psychology books and self diagnose. Obviously.
- “Show Me” (1956)
Despite the power and beauty of words, occasionally a little action is necessary. If you’re looking to illustrate that point (and aren’t above a little theatricality), this is the song for you.
- “The Star-Crossed Lovers” (1957)
Maybe you’re not in the mood for words. You’re just looking for a nice slow dance. That doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice your search for the literary. Just grab your dance partner and sway along to the melancholy sounds of Duke Ellington. Romeo and Juliet may not be verbal here, but the two saxophones representing them are still having a conversation.
- “The Book of Love” (1957)
I too wonder who wrote the Book of Love. Mostly because I’d like to ask them what happens in Chapter 5. I get the feeling the Monotones are giving us the Cliffs Notes version. At the very least I’m missing an important step between Chapters 3 and 4. How do you go straight from remembering the meaning of romance to breaking up? And why exactly are we assuming that she will always be the one to need the second chance? I’m starting to wonder if you even really read the book, Monotones, or if you just skimmed. Did no one tell you that there was going to be a quiz?
- “Fever” (1958)
Now, I personally don’t remember Shakespeare penning the dialogue, “Julie, baby, you’re my flame,” but after listening to this, who doesn’t want to use the line, “I burn forsooth?” (Also, technically this song was first performed in 1956, but Romeo & Juliet didn’t make their appearance in it until 1958.)
- “L-O-V-E” (1965)
There comes a time when subtly must be cast aside and you just need to spell it out. But how do you accomplish this without coming across as either too boring or too aggressive? Make it an acrostic! You know who loves acrostics? Everybody.
- “The Letter” (1967)
Once again, the love letter comes out swinging. Not sure if all the letter said was “I can’t live without you anymore” or if she went in to more detail. Regardless, whatever thoughts she put on the paper were enough to get her fella uprooting his life.
- “Your Song” (1970)
On the surface, this is a song about writing a song. But more than that, it’s about struggling to find the right words to express your love for someone. And knowing that even though the words might be simple and not able to encompass the entirety of your emotions, they’re the best tool you have. So, you tell the other person that life is better with them and trust that they can feel the rest.
Can you think of any songs you’d add to the list? Particularly from more recent years, as I’ve only now noticed how historically skewed my list is.
Hope you’re spending at least some of the day dancing! (I personally find it a good mid-week catharsis. Particularly if you can manage it without your coworkers walking by.)