Since Valentine's Day and #VDay are still trending on Twitter – at least, in New York City, where i've set my trending topics – and since walking around Sainsbury's the other day yielded no overheard conversations but those of gigglers chatting about what various friends' lovers did or didn't buy as Valentine's presents, and since compiling it was vaguely emotionally draining and since i haven't posted it yet, i present the LJB extra-curricular Valentine's Day mix.
Willed into existence by Twitter (2 votes 'yes' to 1 vote 'only-if-you-include-samples-of-Hugh-Grant': sorry Katy, this way i still have a clear majority but without having to find and watch a Hugh Grant V-Day film), lovingly selected and haphazardly mixed by me. i mainly just included love-themed songs that i love (however tangential the theme). There's a pretty even blend of euphoric, adoring, heartbroken, funky and inappropriate on there.
i originally did this cuz i couldn't decide what song to send to Jesse Darling for her Diskjammy Collaborative Mix #5 on the theme "Anti-Valentine".1 You should also check that out, it's brill.
Papa M – "Arundel"
The instrumental sound of awaking next to a loved one.
Lou Reed – "Romeo Had Juliette"
"Betwixt, between the East and West, he calls on her wearing a leather vest, the earth squeals and shudders to a halt..."
Shakespeare's star-cross'd lovers transplanted to late-80s Manhattan.
Elliott Smith – "Alameda"
"Nobody broke your heart: you broke your own..."
Andre 3000 – "Happy Valentine's Day"
"Could be an organ donor the way I give up my heart..."
i'm very interested in the sudden switch from "Happy..." to "fuck that..." in this song. Unexpected.
Bingo Gazingo – "I Love You So Fucking Much I Can't Shit"
"The whole world a toilet bowl..."
Otis Redding – "I've Been Loving You Too Long"
"Don't make me stop now / No baby, I'm down on my knees / Please, don't make me stop now..."
Absolutely emotionally flooring.
Smog – "To Be Of Use"
"Like a spindle / Like a candle / Like a horseshoe / Like a corkscrew..."
Brilliant balance between deadpan hilarity and quiet, wistful sincerity. An anthem about the desire to belong for no-self-esteem-engines everywhere. And that pedal steel was surely played by an archangel or at least a minor cherub.2
Joanna Newsom – "Cosmia"
"I'll sleep for the rest of my days if you're gone away again..."
i swear the placement of this next to old flame Bill Callahan in the mix was a serendipitous accident. Jo makes me swoon like a 60s teen drowning out the Beatles at Shea Stadium.
De La Soul – "Jennifa Taught Me (Derwin's Revenge)"
"Positions, muscles flexed, Dove was lost in a Ghana hex / Passed her test, felt her teddy, Jenifa, oh Jenny..."
For such a dirty song, this is actually really sweetly innocent.
Meat Loaf – "Paradise By the Dashboard Light"
"Ain't no doubt about it, we were doubly blessed / Cuz we were barely seventeen and we were barely dressed..."
There may be better songs about praying for the world to end so you don't have to break your promise of eternal fidelity to a girl you fibbed to in order to lose your cherry to her in the back of a car, but i can't think of any. Attn. hipsters: Bat Out of Hell still shits on the vast majority of your mp3 collection.
Ani DiFranco – "Shameless"
"I'll take off my disguise, the mask you met me in / 'cuz I got something for you to see..."
Wide-eyed lovers-against-the-world jam.
DJ Shadow – "Backstage Girl" feat. Phonte Coleman
"I mean, I told her straight up, you know, I got a significant other. Sh-she ain't care. She said for tonight I just wanna be your insignificant other. What?! God-DAMN!"
God-DAMN indeed. Phonte is such a smooth bastard.3
Gang of Four – "Anthrax"
"These groups and singers think that they appeal to everyone by singing about love because apparently everyone has or can love, or so they would have you believe anyway, but these groups seem to go along with what, the belief that love is deep in everyone's personality. I don't think we're saying there's anything wrong with love, we just don't think that what goes on between two people should be shrouded with mystery."
Aha! The cynicism we ordered is here!
Pharoahe Monch – "The Light"
"It was like the earth twisted around her / She shifted the ground I was like, "Ohhhhh.. SHIT!" / She's off the hook..."
The "little bit a thug-slash-B-boy gentleman" makes puppy-dog eyes over a gorgeous Diamond D beat. Pleasingly, he still never drops the polysyllables, as in the fantastic third-verse couplet "we kissin' and we wrestlin' - sexual confessions / I never lack a pack o'prophylac', I learned my lesson".
The Get-Up Kids – "Central Standard Time"
"I said I minded distance / But distance owned us from the start / It's every song. It's every song..."
One for anyone who's ever loved anyone a long time or distance away. The VFW reference in the first verse also raises the interesting prospect that one or more party might be moving away from the other to go to war.
GWAR – "Fuckin' an Animal"
"Damn hard on the knees!"
Yeh, i suppose it's a bit of an odd one out. But i needed it to temper the misery and wistfulness a little. As a bonus, i find this song way, way funnier than i reasonably should. In a kind of massive facepalmy way.
Elvis Costello – "I Want You"
"I want you / No-one who wants you could want you more..."
Bitter, obsessive, seething, wounded, mantric, amazing. Maybe the definitive third-wheel unrequited love song. When he sings "it's the thought of him undressing you" you can practically hear his eyes narrowing.
BOB – "Convenience"
"Then she rides, far away, motorway, can't keep her at bay / I have seen lights turn green just for her convenience..."
Someone on YouTube called this "one of the great lost pop songs of all time"4 and noted that it should have been massive, which means that we have at least one documented case of someone on YouTube being completely right about something. Glorious swoony headrush of a song.
Belly – "King"
"Baby, I can't fake it..."
The bit when she whispers "healer" after the sung "i'm your faith" is pretty sexy.
Bright Eyes – "June on the West Coast"
"And I wouldn't have to bring up my so badly broken heart and all those months I just wanted to sleep / And though spring, it did come slowly, I guess it did its part: my heart has thawed and continues to beat..."
Conor Oberst may have the heartiest sleeves in the room, but he does a nice line in quiet optimism when he wants.
Djali Zwan – "Love to Love"
"Misty green and blue..."
From the Spun soundtrack. Low-key and sweet except for the guitar solo, which is bombastic and overwrought and still rather sweet. It helps that Paz Lenchantin takes the lead and that Billy uses his inside voice instead of his coffee-grinder voice. Come to think of it, i've just realised this is also the mix's second appearance of the highly underrated David Pajo.
Frank Zappa – "Love of My Life"
"Stars in the sky, they never lie..."
The consensus is that FZ hated love songs, that any part of his oeuvre dealing with the subject is obviously designed to mock the cliches of the style and the gullible saps that buy into it. Bullshit. Exhibit A is this Ruben and the Jets track, a ridiculously romantic doo-wop pastiche that sounds no less than entirely sincere. Couples who share Zappa fandom have been known to pick "Love of My Life" for their first dance. Also worth a mention is Bob Harris' stratospheric falsetto backing vocal, so impressive that at one point he gets a round of applause for it.
Gene – "Speak to Me Someone"
"For I know your taste / and I can supply..."
i always felt Gene's pegging as a kind of cut-price student Smiths was unfair. This song alone predisposes me to like them more than anything featuring pious overrated whingebag Morrissey.
Jenny Owen Youngs – "Voice on Tape"
"It's a funny world where machines could replace people..."
Another one about missing someone who's (a way) away, i think. Regina Spektor on scene-stealing answerphone vocals.
Kanye West – "Love Lockdown (Bean Butler rubdown)"
"I'm not lovin' you the way I wanted to..."
Joe made this and it's ace. Squelchy funk and heartbreak, more like.
Martha Wainwright – "Bleeding All Over You"
"You moved up North, you've got a farmhouse / There's cowshit in your brain and love in your heart / I'm in the city and I'm trapped between two buildings and having to start at the start..."
Another unapologetically bitter song for the love of your life who preferred some other jerk.
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – "(Are You) The One I've Been Waiting For?"
"Outside my window the world has gone to war..."
The whole parent album is Nick's love opus and possibly even his magnum opus. This understated ballad may or may not be about PJ Harvey.
Leonard Cohen – "So Long, Marianne"
"I'm standing on a ledge and your fine spiderweb is fastening my ankle to a stone..."
Well it wouldn't be a love compilation without something from Laughing Boy, would it?
Zombina and the Skeletones – "The First Kiss (Cuts the Deepest)"
"In between days, only at night, I took his love, he took my life. Somehow my dress became undone; the moon stared down in disapproval like a dead man's head forced into a pitch black drain, weeping stars to illustrate a glittering release from pain, from my loveless life..."
Macabre black-humour concept pop that transcends its schtick by virtue of being basically really wistful and lovely.
Todd Rundgren – "Can We Still Be Friends?"
"Memories linger on / It's like a sweet, sad, old song..."
Well? Can we?
1 One of these songs eventually did make it to that mix courtesy of me.
2 It was actually the appropriately-named Ken Champion.
3 And The Outsider is a criminally underrated album. Shits on The Private Press.
4 Although he actually said "one off the", admittedly.