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Monday, February 9, 2009

"If music be the food of on"

That's a quote from Shakespeare, the play "Twelfth Night." If you end the quote there, one gets the impression ol' Willy was a lover of music. However, if you complete the phrase, "Give me excess of it; that surfeiting, The appetite may sicken, and so die," it's less obvious if the problem is love's pangs or annoying music.

In the same way that romance is the most popular genre for books here at the Des Plaines Public Library, love must be the most popular topic for songwriters both past and present. Romantic love, for sure, but other kinds of love have inspired songwriters over the centuries, too. One can go back to the ancient Hebrew scriptures, for example: " The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in love. The LORD is good to all, compassionate to every creature." (Psalm 145) The "Song of Solomon" is a spiritual lyric dressed in very romantic language:
My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.
Hymn writers of every age have composed what can surely be described as "love songs," from "How Great Thou Art" to "I Have Loved You."

Pop songwriters moon-June-and-swoon over a potential love, a new love, even an old gone bad, but memorable and meaningful songs have also been written about familial love and friendship. "Butterfly Kisses" was a big hit, a father's affectionate remembrance of his daughter growing up. Elton John's "The Last Song" mused over the "love between a father and a son," in a struggle for reconciliation before dying. Carly Simon's "Love of My Life" is a mother's tender ode to her children and Dan Fogelberg's "Leader of the Band" is a son's tribute to Dad. Friendship songs can be silly, like the odd combination of Jackson Browse and Clarence Clemons singing, "You're a Friend of Mine," poignant like James Taylor's famous version of Carole King's "You've Got a Friend," and boisterous, like "I'll Be There For You," the song The Rembrandts recorded for popular sit-com "Friends."

But, romantic love songs rule the day, no doubt about it. The photo above is the white board in our staff lunchroom. Someone wrote, "What's Your Favorite Love Song?" and within days, the board was covered with suggestions. Classics like "That's Amore," "At Last" and "People" mingle with metal ("No One Like You" by The Scorpions), disco ("More Than A Woman" by The Bee Gees) and, for those bad days, "Another Bites the Dust," by Queen. It's quite a diverse playlist!

So - what's your favorite love song, any type of song, any type of love? Click the "Comments" link here and let us know - if there's a story behind your choice that you'd like to share, please do so. Check back on Wednesday for all the details on our special February 14th "Love in the Afternoon" extravaganza and to read what other readers had to say about favorite love songs.

See last year's PlainTalk article on favorite love songs.

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