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Music Monday: Love Songs that Steal Your Breath

16 Apr

There are some artists who are blessed with a bedroom voice and our featured performers today definitely fit the bill.

Missy Higgins, the Australian musician and vocalist most often compared to Sarah MacLachlan and Alanis Morrisette for her lyrics and voice, put out her second album On a Clear Night in 2007.  While the tracks “Steer” and “Where I Stood” (famous for its inclusion on Grey’s Anatomy and One Tree Hill) are the more famous, one of my favorite bedroom songs, “Warm Whispers” is also on this album.

Your warm whispers.
Out of the dark they carry my heart
Your warm whispers.
Into the dawn they carry me through
And I am weeping warm honey and milk
That you stay surrounding me, surrounding me.

While several of the songs on this album were inspired by a breakup or a lover who wanted to keep their relationship out of the public eye, “Warm Whispers” can be interpreted a few ways.  While there is longing that could be interpreted as the lover is no longer there, I think that the sexuality inherent in the “weeping warm honey and milk” line feels more like it expresses real passion, particularly when followed by the plea for the lover to stay “surrounding me, surrounding me.”

Corinne Bailey Rae burst onto the music scene with her eponymous debut album released in 2006.  Probably the most famous song on the album is “Put Your Records On,” a song which garnered numerous awards in the UK and here in America, including Grammys for “Song of the Year” and “Record of the Year”.  My favorite track, “Breathless,” is a little mini-romance novel kind of song, with the singer letting her best friend about the torch they have carried for him/her for years.

Seems like everyone else has a love just for them,
I don’t mind, we have such a good time,
My best friend, but sometimes, well,
I wish we could be more than friends,
Tell me do you know?
Tell me do you know?

I get so breathless, when you call my name,
I’ve often wondered, do you feel the same?
There’s a chemistry, energy, a synchronicity
When we’re all alone,
So don’t tell me
You can’t see
What I’m thinking of.

This song paints such a vivid picture that I’m using it for the basis of a little novella I’m working on for an online class!

Two terrific songs performed by women with sultry bedroom voices that make us think more about love and longing.  Enjoy your music Monday!

Music Monday: Can’t Take My Eyes Off You Is a Heart-Stopping Classic Love Song

9 Apr

This classic love song actually goes under two different names, the “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” that I’m using, and also the preposition version “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You“.  First recorded in 1967 by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, the song is actually written by Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio, both of whom had careers as songwriters which spanned decades and had performers like Michael Jackson, Diana Ross and Frank Sinatra singing their work.  Here’s the Frankie Valli version of this classic:

This song has some unforgettable lines, all of which center on that moment of utter love and fascination.  The lyrics capture the ultimate yearning we have for someone we love.

You’re just too good to be true
I can’t take my eyes off you
You feel like heaven to touch
I wanna hold you so much
At long last love has arrived
And I thank God I’m alive
You’re just too good to be true
I can’t take my eyes off you

“You feel like heaven to touch / I wanna hold you so much / At long last love has arrived / And I thank God I’m alive” – how many writers have put these thoughts in a hero or heroine’s head?  The jaded person who didn’t believe that love was for them, who is consumed with the desire to simply revel in the person with whom they have fallen – fallen hard and fast – in love?  Let’s also not forget the following knee-weakening lines:

Pardon the way that I stare
There’s nothing else to compare
The sight of you leaves me weak
There are no words left to speak

It’s not just me, musicians everywhere love this song!  It’s been featured in numerous movies and musicals, like Bridget Jones’ Diary and Jersey Boys, but the song itself has been covered over 200 times since its debut and by fairly disperate artists.  I can understand the easy listening crowd covering this (really, Barry Manilow, you didn’t have to) but Muse?

It’s actually a pretty awesome edition, particularly with the rockin’ chorus being a little more dissonant.  But in my hands down favorite version category, Lauryn Hill takes the ultimate prize.

Enjoy your music Monday!

Music Monday: Love Songs That Don’t Want to Change You

2 Apr

I was first wowed with this concept when I heard Martina McBride‘s hit, “My Baby Loves Me (Just the Way That I Am)” which was released in July 1993 as part of her album The Way That I Am.  This song was written by American singer/songwriter Gretchen Peters, who also won awards for McBride’s rendition of Peters’ song “Independence Day” but listeners would easily recognize some of her other popular songs like “Heaven” for Bryan Adams (an artist with whom she has co-written over 30 songs).  For anyone interested in the process of songwriting, there is a moving and informative interview with Peters, speaking about her writing process and some of her work.  “My Baby Loves Me” was actually recorded and released the year before Martina’s rendition, by Canadian country music star Patricia Conroy, who made it to #8 on the Canadian charts with it, but Martina surpassed her success by hitting #1 the following year in Canada and making it to #2 on the Billboard charts.

I think my favorite part of the song can be found in these lines:

When there’s dark clouds in my eyes
He just sits back and lets ’em roll on by
Come in like a lion and go out like a lamb
My baby loves me just the way that I am

Plenty of men who don’t care about dating someone who looks like a beauty queen, but a man who can love you when your in a foul mood and take with equanimity is a total keeper.  This could be the reason that this song is the ringtone for my husband on my cell!

Probably the most popular recent hit falling into this category of love with total acceptance has to be from Bruno Mars, who won the heart of every woman when he came out with “Just the Way You Are (Amazing).”  The song has even more impact when you realize that it was Mars’ debut single in the music world, taken from his debut album Doo-Wops & Hooligans (2010).  This single has managed to sell over 12.5 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling singles of all time.  And why?  Not only is it the creative lyrics or Mars’ distinctive, soleful voice, but also due to the beautiful sentiment of a person fully in love with a woman, exactly as she is.

Written by Mars as part of The Smeezingtons, or the group consisting of Mars along with writers Philip Lawrence and Ari Levine, Mars said in an interview that he was largely inspired by Joe Cocker and Eric Clapton who write love songs that are simple and get right to the point of how they feel about the woman in question. I refuse to quote from the song because most readers already know every single word and sing it in the shower, but suffice it to say, it’s what every woman (and I imagine a LOT of men) want to hear. Total acceptance from the person you love.  Enjoy!

Music Monday: Halo by Beyonce is the Plot of a Romance Novel

26 Mar

There are certain songs that manage to encapsulate an entire romance novel, or at the very least, a hero or heroine’s emotional journey.  “Halo“, recorded by Beyonce Knowles in 2008 as part of her I Am…Sasha Fierce album, was written and composed by Knowles, Ryan Tedder, and Evan Bogart.

A certain amount of controversy surrounded Beyonce’s recording of the song, as it was originally destined for vocalist Leona Lewis, who couldn’t record it due to other commitments. Yet another famous singer, Kelly Clarkson, was upset because she had worked with Tedder previously and felt Halo’s arrangement was much to similar to her song from him, “Already Gone,” which came out in 2009.  In an extremely classy move, after Clarkson heard “Halo” she asked her record label RCA to pull “Already Gone” since she was worried about disrespecting Beyonce, but they refused her request.

“Halo” tells the story of a person who has found an ideal love, despite having been hurt in the past and previously shuttering their emotions. (All lyrics from LyricsMode)

Remember those walls I built
Well, baby they’re tumbling down
And they didn’t even put up a fight
They didn’t even make up a sound

I found a way to let you in
But I never really had a doubt
Standing in the light of your halo
I got my angel now

It’s like I’ve been awakened
Every rule I had you breakin’
It’s the risk that I’m takin’
I ain’t never gonna shut you out

How many romance novels have you read where the hero or heroine is hit by a ton of bricks when they see their destined love?  The use of angels (fallen or otherwise) is a common trope in romance fiction, whether it refers to a love interest’s appearance or behavior in the sense of them “saving” the other main character. Further developing the “savior” concept in the lyrics:

Hit me like a ray of sun
Burning through my darkest night
You’re the only one that I want
Think I’m addicted to your light

I swore I’d never fall again
But this don’t even feel like falling
Gravity can’t forget
To pull me back to the ground again

Feels like I’ve been awakened
Every rule I had you breakin’
The risk that I’m takin’
I’m never gonna shut you out

“I swore I’d never fall again / But this don’t even feel like falling”? Brilliant lyric.  I can sense the brooding hero just feeling the rightness of this person he has just found that clicks right into his life and his soul.  Sigh.

Despite the controversy, I for one am glad to have this song in my “Love and Romance” playlist.  Enjoy!

Music Monday: Sting Singles Made for Love

19 Mar

In high school, my best friend had a massive crush on Sting, so I actually know much more about him than the average person of my generation.  I know his real name was Gordon Sumner, that he was Catholic (this was important to us, being sentenced to Catholic school our whole lives), that he worked as a teacher (oh, the fantasies THAT inspired!), and that he lived with his girlfriend, Trudie Styler, and had children with her.  This was baffling to two teenage girls – why not marry her?  Of course, he eventually did, but not before showcasing the graphic birth of one of their children in the rockumentary, Bring on the Night, which my friend and I saw multiple times at the little movie theater in a local mall.  Since she went with me to see White Nights more than once (my crush was Mikhail Baryshnikov), it was the least I could do.  And I liked the music as well as the fact that he was a good political activist and philanthropist.

Released in 1994, “When We Dance” was one of the two new singles in the compilation album Fields of Gold: The Best of Sting, 1984-1994.  Naturally, Sting is creative and quirky, so the video seems like an sci-fi acid trip, but you can just put it on while you are doing something else and listen to how haunting the lyrics are.

Of course, Sting has been the voice of true love for a while (and no, I am NOT talking about “Every Breath You Take” which is a total stalker song.  Ew.).  Much more jaunty and upbeat, yet still romantic, “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” from The Police album, Ghost in the Machine, is more of a crush song, letting the listener in to a world of infatuation.  Sting actually wrote this song in 1976, but it wasn’t a big hit until its inclusion on this album in 1981.  I can still see my friend and I bouncing around the living room with MTV showing this video in the background.  It’s a typical early video (it has that “gee, what should we do in front of the camera?” quality which haunted early MTV airwaves) but it still appeared that the band was having a good time.  I adored Stewart Copeland (I’ve always had a thing for drummers).

If I Ever Lose My Faith in You” was released in the year before “When We Dance” on his album, Ten Summoner’s Tales which came out in 1993. I always picture this song as the internal voice of a battered hero who has given his heart to a heroine after years of pain.  The video is almost as weird as “When We Dance” (maybe working through some Catholic issues here) but just shut your eyes and listen to the fabulous lyrics.

Enjoy your Monday!

Music Monday: Kissing Music

12 Mar

“This Kiss” by Faith Hill has always been a favorite of mine.  Released in 1998, it was number one of the Country charts and reached number three in adult contemporary proving how often country is really categorized as “crossover” since it can have a wide appeal.  “This Kiss” was written by Beth Nielson Chapman (a songwriter powerhouse – take a look at her link to see how many hits she’s written) along with Robin Lerner and Annie Roboff and the song was actually incorporated into the soundtrack of the movie, Practical Magic (a forgettable movie starring the nevertheless talented Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman).  Book note: Practical Magic is based on the book of the same name by Alice Hoffman, and I’ve yet to read a book of hers I didn’t enjoy, since she’s big on magic and strong female characters.  You might want to check it out.

“Just a Kiss” by Lady Antebellum does a great job suspending the listener in that moment of total potential when you have a first kiss with someone you are falling in love with.  Band member Charles Kelley said that he drew upon his first kiss with wife Cassie McConnell when all of the members sat down to write this.  I’m guessing their marriage is awesome.

“Kiss Me” by Sixpence None the Richer, which people always said was a Christian band, but I think they might have been a regular rock/pop band in which the band members were simply open about their personal faith.  This song is a teen movie and tv show powerhouse, appearing in the movies She’s All ThatNot Another Teen Movie and TV shows like Dawson’s Creek,  The Young and the RestlessDays of our Lives, and my personal favorite, 7th Heaven (before those horrible twins starting talking – they were the moment the show jumped the shark).

“History in the Making” by Darius Rucker is a totally brilliant love song written by Rucker along with Clay Mills (who has written songs for Diamond Rio and Trisha Yearwood) and Frank Rogers (a known producer and session musician who has written songs with good friend Brad Paisley as well as big name country stars like Kenny Rogers).  Rucker is well-known as the former lead singer and musician for Hootie and the Blowfish, who later struck out on his own as a rock solo artist before transitioning from rock to country music.  He is, astonishingly, only the second African American to ever win an award from the Country Music Association (I mean, I know there aren’t a lot of black people in country music, but seriously?) and the first to win for Best New Artist.  I have always thought his voice was amazing, but the lyrics to this song resonate with love.

There’s your music Monday – I know it’s a little heavy on country music, but can I help it that country music does such a great job writing about love?

Music Monday: You’re the Reason Why by Lonestar

5 Mar

I bet I’m not alone, but I have a whole playlist in my iTunes entitled “Love and Romance” where I keep all the songs that make me think of romance novel plots or an individual hero or heroine’s journey.  Authors had begun offering playlist “extras” on their websites for songs that they felt were inspirational to their writing or that they listened to while creating the book, and I thought, what an amazing idea.  It make me appreciate the author’s perspective even more.  So why not create a playlist for myself of songs, old and new, that I think typify love and romance?

Here’s one I’ve been listening to a lot the last week or so by the band Lonestar from their latest album Party Heard ‘Round the World, entitled “You’re the Reason Why”.  Tell me that this doesn’t capture the journey of a romance hero or heroine!

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