Valentine’s Day is a divisive time of year. Those with a significant other to be thankful for won’t mind the lovey-dovey nature of the occasion, but it fills many singles with bitterness and resentment. Luckily, there’s a vast collection of songs for both attitudes that span every genre, and I thought I’d present some of each. Whether you want a few songs to dance to with your sweetheart, or you need some tunes just to help you get through the day, enjoy this emotional collection and bask in your feelings for awhile.
For The Lovers
The Postal Service - "Such Great Heights"
The Postal Service, comprised of Death Cab For Cutie’s Ben Gibbard and electronic artist Jimmy Tamborello, released Such Great Heights on their 2003 album “Give Up.” It’s an ideal track for an indie Valentine’s Day mixtape, and it’s full of sappy goodness. The song begins with the lines, “I am thinking it’s a sign / That the freckles in our eyes are mirror images / And when we kiss they’re perfectly aligned.” You can’t get any mushier while keeping your track listenable. Also check out Iron & Wine's cover.
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros - "Home"
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros are a 10-piece indie Americana group from Los Angeles who released this gem in 2009. Simple and folksy, it strikes a chord with travelers with the line, “Home is wherever I’m with you.”
Al Green - "Let’s Stay Together"
An oldie but a goodie, Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” remains one of the classic love songs of all time. You probably know at least one couple who cite this tune as their wedding song. Even President Obama couldn’t resist feeling the love on this one.
Bright Eyes - "First Day of my Life"
Generally known for songs that are pretty heavy on the melancholy, Omaha’s Conor Oberst lightens up a little on this one. This emotional tune leans toward the brighter side of love with lines like, “Yours is the first face that I saw / I think I was blind before I met you.” I mean, come on... the video is happy couples smiling at each other.
Whitney Houston - "I Will Always Love You"
I had to give a nod to the late, great Whitney Houston. Her powerful, soulful voice is at its best here.
For The Singles
Now, we come to the songs for those who can’t stand Valentine’s Day. Whether you’ve been bitter about an ex for a long time or you’re suffering from fresh wounds, you definitely don’t want to hear the love songs that this day is known for. Allow me to provide you a few tunes for an alternative soundtrack.
Jimmy Ruffin - "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted"
Jimmy Ruffin’s 1966 Motown hit is the tale of a man wallowing in sorrow after love’s departure. Perhaps you can relate to the lines, “Love’s happiness is just an illusion / Filled with sadness and confusion.” Ouch.
Brand New - "Jude Law and a Semester Abroad"
Few albums have captured the bitter resentment that comes from young, unrequited love like Brand New’s debut album, “Your Favorite Weapon.” If you’re in an angry mood today, this one’s for you. “And even if her plane crashes tonight, she’ll find some way to disappoint me / By not burning in the wreckage or drowning at the bottom of the sea.” Sweet, sweet revenge.
Johnny Cash - "Hurt"
This Nine Inch Nails cover is for those who might be a little depressed on Valentine’s. Or very depressed. If you can be in a cheerful mood after listening to this one, there might be something wrong with you.
The Beatles - "Yesterday"
This song is yet another classic of lost love and regret. We all wish we could go back to yesterday sometimes... or perhaps to tomorrow, when Valentine’s Day will be over.
The Postal Service - "Nothing Better"
Yes, we’re back to The Postal Service. You’ve got two Valentine’s Day songs with opposite emotions on the same album. The duet’s narrative consists of Gibbard begging for forgiveness as female vocalist Jen Wood pushes him away: “So please back away and let me go / I can’t my darling I love you so.”
And there you have it. Hopefully, these songs will get you through Valentine’s Day, whether you love it or hate it. Be sure to come back next year, as you may need the other half of this list by then.
Happy Valentine’s from WCBE!