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Monday Morning Roundtable: The best love song of all time

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Wes Soltis – You can’t name the greatest love song ever without sounding entirely and horribly cliché. So, with that said, I’m going with Eric Clapton’s “Wonderful Tonight.” Is it played at every wedding? Everyone I’ve attended. Does it make every old person at the wedding smile with a youthful expression that makes you life is pretty, well, wonderful? You bet your ass it does.

The lady in question that Clapton wrote the song about is Pattie Boyd, the former wife of Clapton, and also the former wife of George Harrison (and apparently had caught the eye of Mick Jagger, too. Quite the list she had going). “Wonderful Tonight” wasn’t the only song Clapton wrote about Boyd, either. “Layla” and “Bell Bottom Blues” also inspired by her.

It’s surely not Clapton’s best song – but man, what a love song.

Ryan Peters – This is an especially difficult question to answer, in part because everyone has a widely differing personal definition of a “Love Song.” Some people are going to say that a song like Ray Charles’ “I Can’t Stop Lovin’ You” is an adult expression of longing and need, and others are going to think that Celene Dion absolutely nailed the concept with “My Heart Will Go On,” as they remember Leonardo Dicaprio dying in the cold North Atlantic water because Kate Winslet wouldn’t move five fucking inches and share that huge door him. And then of course there is a worldwide constellation on hormone-tinged teen girls who get all hot in the oven for Justin Bieber and the deep, deep pathos he sung of on “Baby” (sidenote: LUDAAAAA!).

Now, I’ve already explained that the awesome power of Justin Bieber terrifies me, and the swelling ballad isn’t my favorite type of song. Granting that this is all entirely subjective, I’m going to go with Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Long As I Can See the Light.” I don’t really think that it is a grand expression of love, but it runs the gambit from deep affection to let’s-get-our-pants-off-right-now. Plus, lord knows we all need more CCR in our lives.

Dominick Mayer – I’ll be perfectly honest: It was remarkably hard for me not to write a rousing defense of Starship’s “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now,” just for the fact that I regularly have a Pavlovian reaction to that particular bit of power balladry wherein I am unable to not pump my fist triumphantly when those pre-chorus bells kick in. But I’ll restrain myself, and instead go with The Weakerthans’ “The Reasons.” It might not be the most soaring love song in the world, nor the subtlest. I adore it for its simplicity more than anything; every line that John Samson has speaks to the beauty of those subtle, intangible things about the kind of contentment that a long-term relationship provides. “I can barely play this thing/But you never seem to mind/And you tell me to fuck off/When I need somebody to/How you make me laugh so hard.” “The Reasons” isn’t so much about that giddy rush of falling in love as appreciating the beauty of actually being in it. And there is something about that which is, lacking better-written terms, pretty fucking magical.

Ben Kessell – It’s quite possible that “She Is Beautiful” by Andrew W.K. is the biggest love/party anthem ever written. Think about it: there is a big time love/party vibe and were you to read the lyrics without music, you’d think it to be poetry. How can “She is beautiful Na na na na na na na na” not get your pants damp? I know mine are! If you and your partner like to stay up all night doing keg-stands and breaking shit while you bang, this should be played at your wedding. If this doesn’t moisten & engorge your genitals, then you probably do it to Morrisey or New Order. If so, please make sure you are not a dead person. That would be distressing for your lover.

In all seriousness, this party-goer has a soft side, too. What makes a song good is the emotion it evokes; what makes it the best is that it works every time, like Billy Dee. When I first heard Elbow’s “Mirrorball” I cried. This is no “slumped in the shower” cry, it was “I remember how good it feels to be love-drunk.” The song features a Brit crooner, sweeping strings and a gentle beat; a song to make love, not bang, to. Pretty much everything my beloved swoons to and it made its way onto the first mix I made for her. However, I cannot neglect the classics. If you’ve ever had to say goodbye to a summer romance or your lover in a different state, you know how wrought that last few minutes is with true romance. Louis Armstrong knows too, thats why he wrote “A Kiss to Build A Dream On.” He knows how sweet those last few kisses are, how much you will cherish and relive them in your head. He takes a potentially sad moment and illuminates nothing but the brightest of it. All in all I could not choose between any of these, because love is always changing. You could be banging one out to “Every Rose Has it’s Thorn” one night or you could be cuddling and laughing on a Sunday morning while “It’s Oh So Quiet” blares on your clock radio.

Seriously though, try doing it to “I Get Wet.” See what happens. Thank me later.

Amy Dittmeier – If we’re talking about self-love here the obvious choice is Tweet’s “Oops, Oh My.” But since this question falls around Valentine’s Day I’m assuming a more appropriate choice should be a song about romantic, can’t-live-without-you love.  Though “Oops, Oh My” is a fantastic song about loving yourself without the aid of men (if you really don’t know what I’m referencing, you may need to go back to high school) it’s not really a song that screams “I believe in love and all that it stands for.”

However I must admit I’m not a love song type of person. Sure there are songs that are romantic and that I may think nostalgically about past loves and lovers, but usually I’m pumping hip hop and electronic must the majority of the time.  Both are genres that don’t tend to be very romantic. But I will say “When the Stars Go Blue” off of Ryan Adams’s Gold gets me every time. It’s a song about sadness ultimately. Someone is sad and Adams is asking what’s wrong and expresses that he wants to help. Isn’t that kind of what love is?  You can enjoy the time you spend with someone else, from sex to drinking to watching movies, but when that other person is having a shitty day and you step up to the plate and make them feel better you’ve gone above and beyond casual dating. His cover of “Wonderwall” also kind of makes me want to cry but “When the Stars Go Blue” is a little more mature. And doesn’t remind me about how much I loved Oasis in high school and applied the song to every crush I had.