When thinking about this article I immediately recalled a quote by Nick Cave in which he states: “A love song is never simply happy. It must first embrace the potential for pain. Those songs that speak of love without having within their lines an ache or sigh are not love songs at all but rather they are hate songs disguised as love songs and are not to be trusted.”
Falling in love is quite probably the most inconvenient, irrational and time-consuming leap of faith the human experience presents. The odds are abysmally stacked against success, yet how often have we found ourselves scheduling our bus rides around a few minutes with the apple of our eye or lingering around bars for just one more pint in hopes our secret crush will make an appearance?
My band has a long-running joke we are “writing songs about the very fine line between true love and full-blown alcoholism.” Within every joke there is truth.
In fact, maybe I revel in this potential for pain. What follows is a collection of songs for long after the sun has gone down, it’s too late to buy more beer but you still have a half pack of cigarettes. Enjoy in moderation.
The Velvet Underground – “Pale Blue Eyes”
The VU at its sparse and plaintive best. “Thought of you as my mountaintop, thought of you as my peak/ Thought of you as my everything, I had but couldn’t keep.” Sing it, sweet Lou.
The Flaming Groovies – “Yesterday’s Numbers”
The song that asks, “Have you ever been alone?” and isn’t afraid to ape the Stones circa Sticky Fingers. Every Flaming Groovies record is worth the search when you finally find one in the used bin and it’s not 30 bucks.
The Rolling Stones – “Dead Flowers”
The World’s Greatest Rock and Roll band at their absolute best. Sure they were millionaires by now and it’s all just posturing but this song still rules.
Roky Erickson – “Starry Eyes”
Next to Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Goin’ On” the most beautiful vocal ever committed to tape. Absolutely incredible, and the fact Roky was subjected to the Texas justice system and lives now with his mother (some 25 years later) in Austin, Texas. and has rarely played since only makes this sadder.
Big Star – “Thirteen”
Maybe he never got the girl in this song, but amidst the boredom and frustration he sure was trying and sometimes that is all that we have got.
Mule – “One Hundred Years”
“They have seen me cry, they have seen me ball/ but by God above me, that’s the last time they’ll ever see me crawl.” P.W. Long picks himself up long enough to record this gem on Mule’s swan song, If I Don’t Six.
Willie Nelson – “Hands on the Wheel”
Maybe this is breaking from the theme, but I have got to give props to a song that is so well put together and so … hopeful. Everyone should own at least one Willie record.
Ween – “Baby Bitch”
A staggeringly pretty song with one of the more caustic lyrics to love lost ever. Eventually we all come through the other side, some of us slightly better adjusted than others.
These songs are in no particular order and I know I have listed no female artists. But some nights I’d much rather be with the boys. Happy Valentine’s Day.