Boo! Hiss! Down with Valentine’s Day! See that happy couple, walking arm-in-arm down the street? Kick their shins. Throw acid in their faces. Love’s for dicks. It’s all a sham! Boooo!
At least, that’s the sort of sentiment you normally hear at this time of year. Listings mags grown under the weight of misanthropic ‘anti-Valentine’s’ club nights, at which punters are encouraged to listen to black metal, self-harm, hurl bricks at teddy bears, and so on.
It’s a bizarre prejudice, this idea that love is cliched and icky and embarrassing and worthy of scorn, as opposed to, you know, the only thing that makes life living. So you’re not in a relationship on Valentine’s Day. Suck it up. Let the rest of the world have its fun. The thought of other people’s happiness fills you with rage? What are you, Morrissey? Get a grip.
Anyway, here at NME, to quote Elbow, we still believe in love, so fuck you. Here are the romantic lyrics that make us go as knock-kneed and gooey-hearted as a Los Campesinos! fan who’s just been given a new hairslide. I hope you’ll add to our list by suggesting your own loved-up couplets.
Alan Woodhouse: “Don’t believe what you’ve heard/faithful’s not a bad word”, from ‘Bachelor Kisses’ by The Go-Betweens. To be honest, I could pick from virtually any of the late, great Grant McLennan’s lyrics, but this one’s simplicity and sincerity always makes me smile. And it’s part of an unbelievably good song.
Tim Chester: “If the sun refused to shine, I would still be loving you/If the mountains should crumble to the sea, there would still be you and me/Inspiration’s what you are to me, inspiration, look… See.”
That’s from Led Zeppelin’s ‘Thank You’. It might be on the precipice of cringe, but then they always were. From their second – and best – studio album.
James McMahon: Like most indie loser schmucks, I’m drawn to romantic songs (I’m not going to say ‘love songs’, because ‘a love song’ should be about the welfare of other people, and most aren’t – I can’t, for example, think of many songs that go “oh, baby, I’m sorry you stubbed your toe”), that are essentially masochistic in nature (see: Smog, Buffalo Tom, Silver Jews, Will Oldham, etc).
But my favourite is ‘Hospital’ by Jonathan Richman. Why? Because despite the subject matter concerning a man completely falling to bits because he’s drawn to ‘the power that resides in your eyes’, it also features the funniest line I think I’ve ever heard in a pop song. “I’ve been going to bakeries all day long, there’s a lack of sweetness in my life…”
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Luke Lewis: I know Elbow’s ‘One Day Like This’ has become a real cliche – it seems to be the ‘first dance’ song at every wedding you go to – and I can’t imagine I’d ever personally utter the phrase ‘Holy cow’ at the height of passion. But still, the way Guy Garvey phrases that chorus is pretty devastating, no matter how many times you hear it.
Marc McLaren: Billy Bragg – ‘The Price I Pay’. “Girl I love you so much that sometimes it’s such/I’d walk a mile with a stone in my shoe.”
Bragg’s best songs are actually his love songs rather than his political efforts, and this showcases his softer side to great effect. No-one’s ever gone through that amount of pain for me…
Emily Mackay: “Come loose your dogs upon me/And let your hair hang down/You are a little mystery to me/Every time you come around.” (Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds, ‘The Ship Song’).
I’m not sure why I find the idea of love as being mauled by hounds romantic. Maybe it’s something to do with the acknowledgement of the
inherent savagery and non-fluffiness of wanting someone that badly. Or maybe I’m just a massive goth and need to get out more.