Love is a many-splendored thing, and music reflects this complexity. Songs are written about first love, obsessive love, unrequited love, heartbreak and so on. Whether you consider Valentine’s Day a silly Hallmark holiday or a nice annual summit on the true meaning of the L word, here's an eclectic soundtrack that ranges from torch songs to tortured ballads. Raunch, romance and resentment are represented in this sonic valentine.
1) “Web of Love” • Joi Lansing • “Scopitone: S-1057”
Queen of Scopitones gets ensnared. Best experienced in Scopitone video form: bit.ly/alibijoi.
2) “I'd Love to Take Orders From You” • Mildred Bailey • A Date With John Waters
A submissive selection from the Pope of Trash's Valentine's mixtape.
3) “Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder” • Boyd Rice • The Way I Feel
Boyd's duet with Tiffany Anders doesn't exactly inspire couple confidence.
4) “Johnny Remember Me” • John Leyton • “Johnny Remember Me / There Must Be” 7-inch
Joe Meek-produced death ditty about a haunting love.
5) “I'm Straight” • The Modern Lovers • Troublemakers
Jonathan Richman woos a hippie's girl.
6) “I Want You” • Elvis Costello & The Attractions • “I Want You / I Hope You're Happy” 7-inch
The rawly voiced refrain on this concert staple is swoon-worthy.
7) “Love Like Anthrax” • Gang of Four • “Damaged Goods”
Post-punk tune comparing love to biological warfare.
8) “Love Comes in Spurts” • Richard Hell & the Voidoids • Blank Generation
Richard Hell wails on the sporadic, painful nature of love.
9) “I Am a Scientist” • Guided by Voices • Bee Thousand
Dig the four-track version of this metaphor-laden song.
10) “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out ” • The Smiths • The Queen Is Dead
“And if a 10-ton truck kills the both of us / To die by your side, well, the pleasure, the privilege, is mine.”
11) “I'll Be Your Mirror” • The Velvet Underground & Nico • The Velvet Underground & Nico
Restrained vocals and genuinely romantic lyrics make this one a keeper.
12) “Coral Kiss” • Pain Teens • Beast of Dreams
Bliss Blood and multi-instrumentalist Scott Ayers meditate on love bites.
13) “Fever” • Marine Girls • Lazy Ways
Short-lived Hertfordshire post-punk quartet channels Peggy Lee.
14) “Why Don't We Do It in the Road?” • Clint Ruin & Lydia Lunch • “Don't Fear the Reaper”
No wave chanteuse Lunch and Clint Ruin (Foetus) do The Beatles.
15) “In Every Dream Home a Heartache” • Roxy Music • For Your Pleasure
“I blew up your body, but you blew my mind.”
16) “No Escape” • Cabaret Voltaire • Mix-Up
The Sheffield industrial icon’s distorted, melodic interpretation of The Seeds.
17) “Vermilion Kisses” • Barry Adamson • Oedipus Schmoedipus
Spoken-word fairy tale darkness from the inimitable Mr. Adamson.