It takes a while for a love song to actually mean something.
I grew up in a house full of love songs — the ones my parents sang to me when I was still young enough to be put to bed, the vinyl records they played on repeat, the tape cassettes and CDs they later adopted. My family is a fairly musical one, so it wasn’t unusual for us to gather around the piano while someone played and the rest of us sang along.
And these were always love songs. So many great songs are.
The first time I owned my own set of love songs is when I asked my dad to order me a compilation album called, “All For Love.” It had Enya on it — I remember that — and I first heard about it because it always played on those early ’90s infomercials, back when TV was still used to sell music. These songs didn’t mean anything to me, of course. I was seven-years-old, maybe.
Love songs don’t really mean much to you at all until the first time you meet someone who gives them meaning. Because of this, when you’re 12, any song can become a love song. Back in my day I guess that meant anything on TRL? Which explains a lot.
As you get older, love songs get weighted down with plenty of meaning. Sometimes too much meaning; they can hurt to hear. But they can also brighten a day and lighten a mood and remind you of something important that you almost forgot. They take on molds of different shapes, each one fitting a different person, moment and memory in the same way two Legos audibly click. And even if one day that person’s gone, the nice thing about music is you’ll always have the song.
And so, while I sit over here and muse on the ones that mean the most to me, tell me yours: what is your favorite love song? And if you’re feeling brave, add the why.
(Ok, I thought about it: “Can’t Take My Eyes off of You” as sung by Heath Ledger’s character in 10 Things I Hate About You, partially because of the commitment to performance, “XO” by John Mayer because I’m a sucker, “Wild Horses” by the Rolling Stones because it applies to more than one kind of love, “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” by Otis Redding because it’s Otis Redding, “Tupelo Honey” by Van Morrison because it’s a damn classic and “Hold” by Saves the Day because some 8th grade memories just don’t fade.)
Collages by Emily Zirimis