Year-end lists are tough for me, unless you’re talking about 1974, or 1945. Then there are always lists like “greatest love songs,” “breakup songs,” or “hate my boyfriend songs,” but the fact is, our romantic lives go through seasons and the music we listen to mirrors that. The warm snuggly sweater of young love feels itchy and smothering in the decaying heat of an impending breakup.
With that in mind, I offer a playlist that covers the whole arc of the average romance, from first glance to last door slam (though thankfully people get lucky sometimes and, with some effort, can skip the last half, or we’d have a major decline in the earth’s population).
The Kinks: “Something Better Beginning”
Ray Davies continues to be hugely underrated. There’s so much innocence and longing in this tune, and the watery production helps to cue the tear glands. Or mine at least.
Stevie Wonder: “For Once in My Life”
Flowers bloom, optimism is rewarded, Stevie hits those high clear notes.
Randy Newman: “The One You Love”
“She may be hungry/but she won’t say/But you better get a burger or something in her right away/Or you’re gonna pay at the hands of the one you love.” Randy Newman is so misunderstood by the general public. I’m not sure he cares, though. This song is the first fade of the initial spring bloom. If you’re lucky, you actually get to know the person who inspired those high notes, and the work begins. And you either keep hitting those high notes, or…